The Dark Tower (2017)
August 8, 2017 6:31 AM - Subscribe

The Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, roams an Old West-like landscape where "the world has moved on" in pursuit of the man in black. Also searching for the fabled Dark Tower, in the hopes that reaching it will preserve his dying world.

The reviews are... not kind:

Rotten Tomatoes: "Go then, there are other Stephen King adaptations than these."


AV Club: "Oh, to think what a director like Guillermo Del Toro—or anyone from the current crop of hungry young genre directors—might have done with a film version of Stephen King’s fantasy cycle The Dark Tower. But instead of the sort of nerdy fantastist the material deserves, we’ve ended up with Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair), a stolid Dane who earns his journeyman card by getting through an entire movie full of child-snatching monsters, interdimensional travel, antique firearms, and wacky sorcery without even once giving the sense that he thinks that any of this stuff is cool."

io9: "The biggest problem with The Dark Tower movie is that when it ends, you don’t feel the need to see more. Unlike the epic books that inspired it, the movie is streamlined to be one complete story. Hypothetically, this should be a good thing. But with The Dark Tower, that process removes any gravitas needed to make us care about what’s happening. The end results are a ho-hum 90-minute fantasy, peppered with action and mythology, but more forgettable than just plain bad."

Vox [spoilers]: "Except for King’s main character, Idris Elba’s Roland the Gunslinger — who isn’t even the main character of this movie — the other film characters are all composites of multiple characters from the book series. Except for the broadest central plot point — Roland pursues a man, played by Matthew McConaughey, who wants to destroy the Tower that keeps our universe and many others in balance — King’s ideas have been largely swept aside for a strange fusion of science fiction and Weird fiction disguised as a Young Adult fantasy. Yet for all of this, Arcel’s film is fun, loving, scary, and often as genuinely compelling as it is wildly misguided. The Dark Tower may be a terrible, even baffling version of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, but it’s highly enjoyable as a cinematic King fanfic. Here are four things you need to know to prepare for the journey."
posted by Halloween Jack (21 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I have a longstanding relationship with this series. It matters a lot to me, and I knew a movie couldn't do it justice, so I tried to go in with no expectations. And it still managed to not meet those expectations. It seemed disorganized and disjointed at parts. I feel like they got some fundamental things about Roland's character wrong. His main driver wasn't revenge... it was his bone-deep obsession with his quest to reach the Tower. No one should have had to push him to reach it to save the world.

Walter isn't a god, he's (at best) a cosmic shit-disturber. Roland isn't a superhero, he's a profoundly flawed human being with an addiction to a quest that will likely kill him.

It was an action movie with some familiar character names and lots of winks to die-hard King fans. And it wasn't even a great action movie.
posted by torisaur at 7:15 AM on August 8, 2017 [7 favorites]

I do want to add, though: Idris Elba did a great job of capturing Roland with what he had to work with, and Tom Taylor was fantastic. I think Matthew McConaughey didn't quite convey the psychotic glee that makes Walter/Flagg a terrifying villain.
posted by torisaur at 7:34 AM on August 8, 2017

I think Matthew McConaughey didn't quite convey the psychotic glee that makes Walter/Flagg a terrifying villain.


Holy crap, if they ever re-adapted The Stand he'd be a great Flagg.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:40 AM on August 8, 2017 [5 favorites]

Holy crap, if they ever re-adapted The Stand he'd be a great Flagg.

There were some attempts to redo The Stand this decade, with a revolving cast of potential directors and shifts in specific formats (long movie, series of movies, mini-series), until it was dropped; I was intrigued to read that one guy wanted McConaughey as Stu Redman and Christian Bale as Flagg. I have the original miniseries on DVD and thought that Jamey Sheridan was an interesting choice as Flagg, but the director made the disastrous choice to put him in this goofy demon makeup when he was being especially evil that just took me right out of the film every time. It's not that Flagg doesn't have his demonic aspects--when he meets Nadine Cross in the book, it's heavily implied that his junk isn't exactly standard issue--but it works best mostly by implication. As torisaur says, Flagg really loves being Flagg, with rare exceptions, mostly near the end of The Stand and his last scene in DTVII.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:50 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Jamey Sheridan wasn't bad. Molly Ringwald as Fran, though....just, no. And it got way too syrupy at the end.

I'd also like to see it with some better CGI than the technology at the time could bear.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:07 AM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

Em Oh Oh En spells "Moon!"
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:23 PM on August 8, 2017 [3 favorites]

This movie couldn't decide if it was Marvel/John Wick (Roland/the kid) or The Matrix (Walter's weird powers). I thought that McConaughey was atrocious and phoned the entire thing in. Idris was great but it was criminal that he never took his shirt off even when Roland got that chest/shoulder wound.
posted by TwoStride at 5:28 PM on August 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

I don't hate this movie. It's a gigantic missed opportunity, though. The casting is perfect, but the story completely misses every point of the book. Why is Jake the main character? Why is Roland a Shane figure and not, like, the star of the fucking movie? No offense to the actor, who did a fine job, but I don't give a shit about Jake. I came here to see the gunslinger, goddammit!

I mean, I was entertained, and here and there, it was really pretty good. If it were an original film, I'd probably be like, "Wow, that was kind of a weird little movie. I like it!" Because I do like it, but only when I don't think about what it should have been.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:35 PM on August 8, 2017 [4 favorites]

From The Stranger's review
Dreamcatcher [is a] movie so aggressively terrible that it put director Lawrence Kasdan in Hollywood jail (he'd be broken out, years later, when J.J. Abrams needed help with The Force Awakens), the lowlights of Dreamcatcher have to be seen to be believed, from its victimized aliens to its rectum-bursting shitweasels to Donnie Wahlberg's... ah... performance. This movie is still better than The Dark Tower.
posted by jojo and the benjamins at 8:47 PM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

My review. TLDR: The whole of it felt like a chore everybody was gritting their teeth to get through.
posted by maxsparber at 10:01 PM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

I only have two good things to say about going to see this movie, and neither involve the movie itself:

-when I checked the start time online it said 7:15 but at the theater my printed ticket said 7:19, which seemed odd, and then I was like, "Oh, I get it, clever."

-we got a longer trailer for It and that actually does look very good in a straight horror sense; looks like a lot of source material from the book.

DT wasn't worse than Dreamcatcher though, not even close, just bland and mediocre. Dreamcatcher was legitimate shit.
posted by mannequito at 10:03 PM on August 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Worse than the Dreamcatcher film?

my mind boggles.
posted by Faintdreams at 4:25 PM on August 9, 2017

It's not even close to being as bad as Dreamcatcher.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:29 PM on August 9, 2017

Yes but... I didnt wait over twenty years for the Dreamcatcher movie. I didn't dream about Dreamcatcher and have endless debates with my friends over Dreamcatcher and write about Dreamcatcher and weep over Dreamcatcher and AHHHHHHHHH what I'm trying to tell you is.... this is the worst movie.
posted by silverstatue at 6:46 PM on August 9, 2017 [2 favorites]

In fairness to Lawrence Kasdan, the source material for Dreamcatcher was pretty godawful to begin with. And the film still has excellent wacky scenery-chewing by Damian Lewis to keep it from being totally irredeemable.

This one is a fucking shame, though, like The Stand. Someone (Netflix, Starz?, hell, even Amazon) could make something actually decent out of these given a decent budget, proper director, and longform mini-series or short-season streaming series format. Glad I didn't bother to see it.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:47 PM on August 9, 2017

It's not even close to being as bad as Dreamcatcher.

Un erm ill Earl.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 8:00 AM on August 11, 2017

Yabbut....the redeeming thing about Dreamcatcher is the blooper reel, in which "Un erm ill Earl" is followed by "So, it's a local problem then?"

I haven't seen The Dark Tower yet, but somehow I am already disappoint.
posted by biscotti at 10:00 AM on August 12, 2017

I think Matthew McConaughey didn't quite convey the psychotic glee that makes Walter/Flagg a terrifying villain.


Holy crap, if they ever re-adapted The Stand he'd be a great Flagg.

Someone (Netflix, Starz?, hell, even Amazon) could make something actually decent out of these given a decent budget, proper director, and longform mini-series or short-season streaming series format.

If whatever entity controls King's stories/books/characters has a modicum of love for those stories/books/characters, they will start this shit over at square one and really build the Stephen King Multiverse. There's room there for feature films, miniseries, and season-long television. It needs to be an MCU-style unified vision though, with people dedicated to making each part true to its source and at the same time fully integrated with the other universes. Release The Dark Tower as a string of ten big-budget features over the course of 15 years. Do The Stand as another miniseries. It and Insomnia and Rose Madder and pretty much any of the other Maine stories are a big, interconnected, character-sharing series of TV series. The Bachmann/Western/Desert stuff is another series of TV series.

And Flagg, running through the whole thing like the stripe on ruined pantyhose. Matthew McConaughey popping up in bit pieces and single scenes and throughout series as the antagonist. And somewhere in the last third of this fantasy set of viewing experiences I want him fully-robed, gaunt as a demon, and white as a corpse in a full-blown fantasy epic feature length production of The Eyes of the Dragon.

Who do I have to beg?
posted by carsonb at 9:43 PM on September 8, 2017

I mean, if capital-T They have any sense at all They'll set this production up on a certain time cycle and after the last Dark Tower movie comes out just re-make everything from the start with different actors and re-written scripts again and again and again...
posted by carsonb at 9:50 PM on September 8, 2017 [2 favorites]

Watched it yesterday with low expectations and liked it a lot.

I've read some Dark Tower books ages ago so couldn't remember much but when you judge the film on its own it's really quite enjoyable.

It moves fast, has decent action sequences and still enough time left for character development to keep you invested. Much better than most blockbusters which all seem to run for 3 hours and are total borefests to me.
posted by Kosmob0t at 10:48 AM on October 21, 2017

My crew and I finally saw this, inflicting it on a number of innocents in the process, and... man is it bad. It's not even interestingly bad - it's a poorly-shot, poorly-written, poorly-edited movie that has one cool gunfight that doesn't have any buildup, winks at a whole bunch of things from the book without understanding anything about them (the whole business with the gunslinger's creed is just stupid) and doesn't make any sense as anything but bad, rushed fanfic.

I am doubly annoyed because I really wanted to see Idris Elba as Roland in, you know, The Gunslinger.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:42 AM on July 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

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