The Dark Tower – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Dark Tower – 3/5 – In the world of fantasy; there are a million stories to be told.  No matter the plethora of journeys, there are only a few that stand beyond the pack.  To stand above, you must have a unique approach to the world, characters and overall experience.  It is why some (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) are beloved.  The Dark Tower is an adaptation of one of the best novels in the fantasy genre.  With all the potential that encompasses this film, The Dark Tower becomes just another average fantasy tale.

Premise:  When two worlds are in danger, The Gunslinger must find a will and fight again.

In general, the actors/actresses do an ok job in this film.  Being pulled from dense source material, the characters (as written), are common archetypes pulled from the fantasy genre.  Even in their predicable mantra, the main characters create distinctive perspectives with the little reverence to the current situation.  Roland Deschain/The Gunslinger (Idris Elba), Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) and the Tom Taylor (Jake Chambers) command the screen with their own brevity.  Even as the script keeps them from fully delving into characterization, they provide power with their own abilities.  Having two big names alongside an up-and-comer actor creates a dynamic that flourishes on the surface.  For the secondary cast, they are standard archetypes.  No matter the intriguing concepts and unique designs, they are only there to be a plot device.

The direction tackles a script that goes along the standard progression for a fantasy film.  You have the basic three act format that flows in a linear direction.  Having a forward perspective helps generate a focal point for the heavy source material, but with no real setup in the epilogue, you only get the typical ‘drop in and go’ method.  There are films where this works very well (Dunkirk), but for the material that is being adapted here, there needs to be a little more time for development in the beginning.  What gets setup is the typical ‘A to B’ technique, where the main characters’ interaction at points and move forward because of plot progression.  As you’re generically introduced to the main characters, you are thrust into the world at a fast pace.  The direction grazes over the deep mythos of the source material, only giving slight windows into background information, character development, imaginative worlds and relationship dynamics. With a ‘face value’ approach, the experience is ho hum and the dramatic moments become passé.  As you move through the second act, we are introduced to the theme of the ‘fallen hero’ trope.  For this story, it is personal grief that has befallen The Gunslinger.  He doesn’t have the heart to fight anymore, until the encounter with a boy.  After this, you get a lot of forced exposition that leads to a purpose for him to fight for good again.  These moments between The Gunslinger and the boy are genuine, helping provide a slight light of enjoyment above all the cliché material.  As you navigate the plethora of plot holes, you see some fun when the film focuses on these two characters.  Once you reach the third act and climax, the film provides a lot of fun action scenes and slick choreograph gun play.  This leads to a final confrontation that provides an adrenaline rush.  Even with the excitement, you realize a lot of the action is ripped from other films.  Once the epilogue comes to end this story, you are left with an open end that has some closure.

The cinematography encompasses an ominous aesthetic.  With the simply storytelling, it is the use of visual prowess that captures some essences of the source material.  With a contrasting effect of both worlds (Earth and mid-world), you get a sense of believability of co-existence.  The vast use of the gritty, down-to-earth aspect helps provide some moments of awe.  The only thing you wish is that there was more time to enjoy the inventive detail of the other world and creatures.  The score is very basic.  The sounds are everything you would expect from a film imbued with fantastical elements.

The Dark Tower is filled with a lot potential, but just becomes another average tale.  Even for all the bland directive, you find some fun in parts of the story.  If you’re a fan of the novels, I say you might want to check this out.  At most, I would only recommend this as a matinee.

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