The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower ★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

The Dark Tower feels very hastily thrown together. It has all the requisite emotional beats and cliches with just enough emphasis on its idiosyncratic universe to avoid being a ubiquitously unoriginal affair.

Elba and McConaughey both do fine here if you ask me. I've seen many reviewers complain that the latter's performance wasn't menacing enough, and perhaps that's true if you've read the novels (I haven't yet) and are disappointed by the contrast. I was satisfied that he seemed to actually embody an independent character and wasn't just "Matthew McConaughey."

Tom Taylor's performance is less commendable but not at all bad. The writing does him no favors, as he is fitted with few discernible characteristics outside of his psychic powers and lacks a significant arc of sorts.

In general, this takes a rushed and bare-bones approach to the world-building, which is unfortunate, because the concepts and the imagery are very interesting. The viewer is enticed repeatedly with promises of mysteries to be explained and otherworldly phenomena to be fleshed out, but the film instead opts to acknowledge something's presence and move forward, teasing and disappointing.

Visually, the action is a mixed bag. Some scenes are fairly coherent and some aren't. Rarely is much done to make these scenes an experience. The sound design also disappoints, with gunshots being overridden by a lame and repetitive score. The CG is used liberally but not rampant, and its quality is fair, but not good.

It's odd that such a short film feels a little longer than it is, but there's not much I would have suggested to be cut (except Jake's friend Timmy, who's useless and is played by a kid who frankly cannot act, at all), but a lack of fluidity and depth results in these scenes feeling sterile and shallow.

This long-awaited adaptation is strangely never awful in any given moment, but its collective lack of value is stunning. I can't help but feel that when I do read the books I'll think to myself, "What a waste."

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