‘The Dark Tower’ stands flaccid

As with most Stephen King movie adaptations, all I can say is there are better movies than these.

The plot of ‘The Dark Tower’ is quite simple thanks to the movie over-simplifying everything and turning it into a half-assed kid-friendly story: A kid named Jake from New York City has visions of another world in which a badass gunslinger named Roland (Idris Elba) fights to protect a dark tower that protects all of reality from collapsing.

Meanwhile, an all-powerful wizard known as The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) has built a miniature Death Star laser powered by psychic energy and is trying to find a child with a brain strong enough to destroy the Dark Tower so that demons can enter our reality or whatever.

‘The Dark Tower’ tries to condense seven books worth of plot and character development into a suspiciously short 90-minute movie.

Surprise, it doesn’t pull this off well. In fact, it spends more time trying to get the audience to recognize its many references to other Stephen King works.

In one scene a child plays with a toy car that’s a replica of the car from ‘Christine,’ a book by the kidnapped author in ‘Misery’ is prominently displayed and during a chase sequence Roland turns a corner too hard and braces himself against the Rita Hayworth poster from ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’

In a wholly inexcusable scene a character opens a portal back to Earth so Jake and Roland can save the universe. He turns to Roland and says “Remember this number, it’s the only way you can get back home,” while pointing to a number painted above the portal.

The number? 1408.

Not only was this reference to another King property groan-inducing, it was wholly pointless beyond that simple reference. The movie stops itself dead to literally point at a reference as if it’ll be important later, then nobody ever opens a portal to 1408 again.

In a movie as short as ‘The Dark Tower’ this is inexcusably bad.

I’ve spent most of this review avoiding discussing the characters because, well, they try their best. One can tell Idris Elba is doing his best to sell the idea of Roland, but neither the script nor the director seemed to really care about selling Roland as a real character.

King’s version of the character is this archaic mystery of a man who refers to his massive pistols as machines, he treats his guns with a pseudo-religious respect and they are said to create a sound like thunder when fired.

Elba’s got a couple of pistols that make uninteresting sound effects. He also drops them a lot, never cleans them once, and uses a lot of 21st-century words for no discernable reason.

Matthew McConaughey attempts to bring life to The Man in Black but ends up looking ridiculous, executing his powers by simply telling people to do something. It’d be very hard to make someone look scary by saying “stop breathing” and an actor starts clutching at their throat like a bad improv comedy skit about being choked by Darth Vader.

This movie feels more like a bad attempt to set up some sort of bizarre Stephen King cinematic universe than an actual adaptation of The Dark Tower series, including a ridiculous ending straight out of a young adult sci-fi novel.

If Roland and Jake show up in this year’s adaptation of ‘IT’ I will both be not surprised and will walk out of the theater, as cinema will officially be dead.

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)