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The Dark Tower: A Mildly Entertaining Sci-Fi Adventure That’s Totally Disconnected

A young kid has wild dreams of another world and its villainous Man in Black. When he learns the dreams are more like visions, he seeks out a Gunslinger in order to save the future for all worlds. Based on the book series by Stephen King, The Dark Tower fails majorly to take its science-fiction source to epic levels, but still manages to mildly entertain.

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Eleven-year-old Jake Chambers has experienced insanely vivid dreams of an unknown world. He channels his dreams into drawings that feature a crumbling tower, children in peril, and a man known as The Gunslinger (Idris Elba). Most frightening is the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), who Jake witnesses executing several people by magic within his dreams.

Jake’s mother and step-father think he’s having a mental break, as he’s still coping with the loss of his father several years before. However, Jake knows the visions are real after locating an abandoned house he had dreamt about. After discovering the portal to the other world, Jake travels there to find The Gunslinger and save all dimensions from being destroyed by the Man in Black.

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With the source material providing plenty for an epic science-fiction western of sorts, The Dark Tower seemed to get lost in itself and the constraints of 95 minutes, failing to really pull in the audience. The introduction to the Mid-World, the dimension Jake finds himself in, is so quick that its rich history seems otherwise forgotten about, seemingly stitched in there at the last minute.

Elba, however, provides a wonderful performance of the vengeful Gunslinger, Roland Deschain. The filmmakers did a disservice to his ability to bring forth the character. During the brief time Roland and Jake spend in New York City, Elba’s comedic chops are on full display and seemed to garner the most reaction from the audience. As much as its been played to death, I honestly wish this film would have had these other-worldly characters being transplanted to our world. It took forever to get to that point of adventure, and felt instantly taken away.

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As a whole, the film is okay. It’s fun at times, but won’t leave you totally fulfilled with what you’ve just seen. There were moments of excitement, amazing action sequences, and hopeful peaks at a positive turn for the story. But those all proved either short-lived or to fail in delivery. You can pry at the cracks in the plot, the confusion in the story and the lack of consistency. It just seemed the filmmakers were playing on the edge of something great.

One disappointment in this film is McConaughey’s portrayal of our antagonist, Walter, i.e. the Man In Black. As far as fear factor goes, despite his sorcery, McConaughey just doesn’t fit that villain aspect. He’s hardly intimidating and his Texan accent seemed to be slipping in and out. It was a weak spot for the film to fail at providing a truly menacing character.

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It’s disheartening to see a film so promising, fall totally flat. Especially for a film titled The Dark Tower, the tower itself is barely explained nor do we really see it much. Everything just felt disconnected at times and that’s the part that is most frustrating. This is the one time you’d wish they had planned a trilogy, to at the least better explore, explain, and develop a concise story.

The Dark Tower just wasn’t well done, slightly surprising for a film that has been in development for so long. While there is a television adaptation in the works, it will be interesting to see if it moves forward. As for Elba, he would likely not reprise his role, which was the main redeeming quality of this movie. There are a few pleasant scenes, moments of hope, but you’ll just end up wondering why they couldn’t execute the film, as a whole, better.

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The Dark Tower is in theaters August 4th

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