“The Dark Tower” is Stephen King’s multi-book, sci-fi/fantasy epic that is as sprawling as it is bizarre. “The Dark Tower” movie boils all this down into 95 minutes, which feels a little like trying to familiarize yourself with The Beatles by listening to the Muzak version of their greatest hits.
There’s some cool stuff here, but you feel like you’re skipping over the surface of something much deeper and substantive.
The best thing about this movie is its two leads. Idris Elba plays The Gunslinger Roland Deschain, a warrior from another world sworn to protect the Dark Tower, a monolith that protects multiple universes from eternal darkness and torment.
Roland’s sworn enemy is the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), an all-powerful sorcerer who wants to bring down the tower and usher in destruction.
Legend states the mind of a child can bring down the tower, so the Man in Black kidnaps children from multiple dimensions to harness their psychic energy to destroy the tower.
This leads us to Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a boy living in New York City who vividly dreams of Roland, the Man in Black and the Dark Tower to the point everyone thinks he is psychotic.
But, Jake isn’t crazy and it isn’t long before he crosses into another dimension and runs into Roland, the Man in Black, and his minions in the flesh.
There is a lot of crazy mythology to unpack here, but it feels like we are getting shortchanged, like if “The Lord of the Rings” was just one movie where Frodo left the Shire and chucked the ring into the volcano in about 90 minutes.
Sorry, I went a little deep-nerd on you there.
So, what does “The Dark Tower” leave us with? Elba and McConaughey are great. Elba oozes cool and gets some fun fish-out-of-water moments when Jake drags him back to New York. McConaughey struts through this movie, enjoying every second of being the personification of pure evil.
There are also some nifty action sequences, as Roland lives up to his title and shoots his way through a host of bad guys with deadly precision.
“The Dark Tower” is just interesting enough to be worth checking out and quite frankly was probably too weird to be given the slow roll and turned into an eight-movie franchise. But, that doesn’t make my inner-nerd any less disappointed.
“The Dark Tower” is rated PG-13 for thematic material, including sequences of gun violence and action.