Briskly forgettable, “The Dark Tower” gets ‘er done, whatever “‘er” is, in under 90 minutes, excluding the finish credits. Pretty brief in Earth minutes, in other words. For the record we’ve seen far, far worse films come early july, “The Mummy” and “Transformers 5” included in this. Apologies to Stephen King, author of the eight dream novels in the “Dark Tower” realm, nevertheless, you can shove that “Mummy” right through the portal to Mid-World, where all the villainously bad videos go. “The Dark Tower” isn’t one of these. It belongs in Middling-World.
The books’ dense alternative-universe mythology has vexed many an adapter lately. With several credited screenwriters on the ultimate product, director Nikolaj Arcel’s movie appears and feels like a series of cautious, stressed compromises and expository panics.
To little avail, the ensemble is great. “The Dark Tower” stars Idris Elba as the Gunslinger, a good man struggling to survive in what’s kept of his crummy world. His nemesis is a well-dressed sorcerer enjoyed by Matthew McConaughey, with a “where’s my Lincoln? Isn’t this a Lincoln advertisement?” twinkle in his vision. Both fine actors murmur, methodically, in low shades throughout “The Dark Tower,” which doesn’t do much for the movie’s in advance drive.
In a major change from the catalogs, the movie doesn’t use the Gunslinger as its entry point or even its protagonist. Back again on Earth, in New York City, troubled middle-schooler Jake (Tom Taylor, genial enough) is possessed by visions of the Deep Tower and a man in black and a Western-style gunman in pursuit. He, and we, learn that Manhattan is crawling with demon-y humanoids moving for human. Quickly enough Jake detects a portal to Mid-World in an old house in Brooklyn, the last un-gentrified property in the complete borough. Zwoop he will go, through the portal seemingly lent from “Highlander 2: The Quickening,” and after that “The Dark Tower” becomes a bit of any metronome, zwooping back and forth from Mid-Earth to midtown. The sorcerer desires Jake for his own nefarious purposes, because he’s a “shine,” or a psychic.
The tower’s survival, we’re advised, is the key to the balance of the universe; the sorcerer needs it toppled, so the apocalypse can start in earnest and the demons swirling just outside the universe proper can move around in and mess up the neighborhood. The Gunslinger is the tower’s protector. A security officer, quite simply, only he’s equipped with pistols forged from the metallic of King Arthur’s Excalibur (the weapon, not the hotel). King juggles mythologies just like a Flying Karamazov Sibling. The movie, alas, settles for relatively straight-faced world-building with very little humor, though which good landscape with Elba’s first encounter with NEW YORK hospital staff.
May be the movie sufficient to do what it’s made to do? Not necessarily. It’s designed as a launching pad for a “Dark Tower” tv series, scheduled to star Elba and Taylor. So this can be an hour-and-a-half Television set pilot; it just is actually a big warmer summer months movie, too.
The filmmakers had two alternatives with this material: One, position “The Dark Tower” as an R-rated splatterfest with Elba as the new Clint Eastwood, in space. This would make some sense, since Ruler acknowledges he borrowed ideas and imagery from “THE NICE, the Bad and the Ugly” for his experiences. Option two: Go for the PG-13 rating and the Young Adult fiction masses, and put the teenage youngster at the guts of things. They gone with option two.