The Dark Tower (2017)

A strange take on the Stephen King series it’s ostensibly based on. The marketing campaign for the film established a way for the film to exist separated in discrete fashion to the actual book series, a clever plot point letting the film stand apart and perhaps get more creative and liberated with its treatment of the source material. The film itself does do that to some degree, reframing some events of the books from a younger character’s perspective (sidelining main character Roland to an extent), giving it more of a YA child-focused vibe in general, and reconfigurating several events from the books into having different outcomes.

But the film’s biggest innovation seems to be its surprisingly short runtime in the age of padded blockbusters. It never really does anything with much flair, there’s a surprising lack of vision or visual creativity to a series that seems to beg for that kind of adaptation. There’s so much unique and strange about Stephen King’s vision for the series and its related works, and it’s odd for the film adaptation’s most strange element to be its efficient runtime.

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Ostensible leads Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba do good work, particularly McConaughey who clearly relishes playing such an outright evil figure, but so much of the film rests on young actor Tom Taylor, and that approach never really worked as well as perhaps hoped. One wonders what kind of work the actors did on the ending we weren’t shown.

Taken completely independently of King’s work, the film works well enough (and credit really must go to how perfect the two proper leads are), it’s just so curious what a lean and lowkey adaptation is ended up being, and it’s remarkably strange for the film’s most curious aspect to be how decidedly not curious it ended up being. The mind races with ideas for other ways the series could be adapted, and if the TV follow-up actually ends up happening it’ll be interesting to see some done with the well-cast actors on fine form here, but as it stands now, the film is an interesting oddity, but not a work of great vision. I give it two and a half portals, and a revolver.

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