'The Dark Tower' is a massive disappointment

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MIDWORLD — The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed, but no one wanted to watch it happen.

The Dark Tower” is the long-awaited release of Stephen King’s brilliant series of novels. The movie has been in development for years, and Friday audiences will finally get to see the big screen incarnations of the man in black and the gunslinger. Unfortunately, those audiences are going to be sorely disappointed.

King’s novels take the reader on a brilliant journey that mixes genres like western, sci-fi, fantasy, horror and romance. The books weave a tale of sacrifice, growth, honor, mystery and love. The movie weaves a tale of petty revenge and terrible acting. As a big fan of King’s books, I have been looking forward to this movie for a long time and I walked out of the theater feeling abused and angry knowing what could have been.

Here are some of the reasons “The Dark Tower” isn’t just a bad adaptation of the source material but a bad movie:

The acting

"The Dark Tower" novels are filled with intriguing and fascinating characters and we see some of them in this first movie, but unfortunately 98 percent of the cast is really bad. First thing that needs to be addressed is that both Idris Elba and Tom Taylor were fantastic in this movie, so they are not included in this section. However, the rest of the cast, including Matthew McConaughey, is.

We’ve all watched B movies or low-budget student films where the actors are trying so hard to act as they deliver lines that may have been written by a third-grader who thinks they understand how adults in tense situations actually speak. This is unfortunately what we get in “The Dark Tower.” Pretty much everyone in the supporting cast is playing their version of a robot, and McConaughey is so absurdly over the top delivering dialogue that it makes your skin crawl for all the wrong reasons. In the Academy Award winner's defense, I don’t really blame him for the performance, but rather the mind-numbing script and what appears to be a complete lack of direction.

Tried to do too much

The seven books in the series comprise 3,914 pages of literature. If you’re curious, that accounts for a lot of exposition, plot lines, characters and twists. “The Dark Tower” has a running time of 95 minutes, and for some unknown reason, the filmmakers thought it was a good idea to try and jam significant portions of all seven books into that time frame. If you’re doing the math in your brain, you’ll know that the total sum equals a complete mess.

There is so much exposition and character development jammed into the 95 minutes that it all comes out as a convoluted mess that’s hard to follow for those of us who have read the books and even harder for those who haven’t. We have no emotional connection to any character and don’t care when something tragic happens. It’s a haphazard mess that turns into a frustrating time at the movies

What worked

Idris Elba and Tom Taylor

With everything wrong with the movie there is something that worked and that’s the performances from Idris Elba and Tom Taylor.

The heart of the series of books is the relationship between Roland the gunslinger and the boy Jake. The film does not capture the magic of the relationship, but I think the casting of Elba as Roland and Taylor as Jake are spot on and stand as the only redeeming qualities of the film.

For me, Elba is the gunslinger and Jake is the brave yet troubled Jake. I want a studio to take another crack at doing “The Dark Tower” the right way, but make sure to leave both Elba and Taylor in their roles. But no matter how good these two were or how expertly they filled the roles of these characters, it could not save the film from itself.


“The Dark Tower” series of movies truly had the potential to be the grown-up equivalent of the "Harry Potter" series. A dark and exciting saga filled with magic, good, evil and one of the greatest literary characters of all time. What we got was a mishmash of ideas that were poorly executed and a meandering narrative that leads us down dead end after dead end.

Knowing the potential of the series is without a doubt the most maddening aspect of the film. We’ll likely never get to see the gunslinger’s epic journey to the dark tower because this first outing was such a disaster. I’m sorry, Mr. Elba and Mr. King, you both deserved better.

At least we King fans have “It” to look forward to and hopefully, it’s good enough that it helps us forget about the film “The Dark Tower.”

“The Dark Tower” is rated PG-13 for thematic material, including sequences of gun violence and action. Make sure to look for Travis Poppleton’s parents review on what you can expect to find content wise in “The Dark Tower.” John has grown up around movies and annoys friends and family with his movie facts and knowledge. John also has a passion for sports and pretty much anything awesome and it just so happens that these are the three things he writes about.

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