It took a decade for "The Dark Tower" to make it to the screen, but maybe it would have been best for everyone if it took a little longer.
The movie is based on Stephen King's book series of the same name. It's a fantasy epic where Idris Elba plays the gunslinger, a sort of magical diplomat-warrior trying to build peace in the universe, and Matthew McConaughey plays The Man in Black, who's an evil sorcerer. It's pretty wild.
A screen adaptation of the eight-book series has been planned in various incarnations. In 2007, J. J. Abrams wanted to adapt it, but backed out after three years when his option on the books ran out. Then Ron Howard picked it up, trying to make an ambitious spectacle that would include three movies and two TV series bridging them, but had trouble finding the financing.
Finally in 2015, "A Royal Affair" director Nikolaj Arcel directed the project with the backing of Sony Pictures, but only with one film to start. McConaughey and Elba signed on, and King had a lot of creative control, according to Variety.
Now the movie is finally here, with a run time of just an hour and a half. It's currently sitting with a 17% score on Rotten Tomatoes with 41 total reviews. That's not quite as bad as "The Emoji Movie," but still pretty bad. Undeterred, Sony is moving ahead with a "Dark Tower" TV series, reports Deadline.
The critical consensus is that the movie tears apart too much of King's masterwork and ends up being a bland, messy, and bone-headed fantasy film. Here are some of their biggest burns.
It feels like a bunch of disparate scenes strung together.
"Done in a brisk 90 minute running time, the movie feels like a bunch of scenes cobbled together. With a disregard to character development, or even simply giving the audience a moment to breath in the world, the feeling of watching "The Dark Tower" is like racing through a meal because you are late to an appointment.At one point, I was imaging what it must have been like to edit this movie. Likely it was days filled with Sony Pictures head Tom Rothman standing over the editor screaming, 'IS IT DONE YET? IS IT DONE YET?? IS IT DONE YET!?!?!?'"
It's a fantasy without the magic.
"'The Dark Tower' should still add up to more: It could use more magic, more dread, a more staggering sense of wonder. It’s wholly inoffensive, but it’s unmemorable too. This is a fantasy that runs like a business."
The movie is weird, yet forgettable.
"[Idris Elba's] performance stands out. The movie around him is sadly pointless, weirdly forgettable despite a slipstream story mashing fantasy and science-fiction and Brooklyn. 'A Tower Stands at the Center of the Universe,' opening text informs us. 'The Mind of a Child Can Bring it Down.' That child is Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), a boy whose whole world fell apart when he lost his father. 'When you lost your father, your whole world fell apart!' his psychiatrist tells him, so there’s your precious backstory. Jake’s having bad dreams that he helpfully illustrates: a tower, a man in black, a dude with cool guns, ugly creatures with stapled-on human faces."
None if it makes any sense.
"Those readers who have followed King down his 4,000-page rabbit hole will probably be the only folks patient enough to sit through Nikolaj Arcel’s 95-minute cinematic abridgment. Despite two fine actors in key roles, and the efforts of a four-man screenwriting team to strip King’s story down to its basics, 'The Dark Tower' still makes virtually no sense, even by the rules of its own world(s)."
It's poorly crafted.
"Most of the scenes in 'The Dark Tower' feel like a desperate compromise of some kind, and often there seem to be scenes missing that would simply get us from one point to another. With fantasy material like this, we need to be made to believe in the inventions and the conceits, and we cannot do that if they are shot and staged in such a truncated and perfunctory way."
The movie doesn't do justice to its source material.
"Fans of King’s books will likely be disappointed by the way this long-awaited film adaptation speeds through essential plot points and frantically introduces characters with little in the way of rhythm or care, all in service of a rushed finale that will leave plenty scratching their heads. A tight story is one thing, but a 95-minute feature that is unable to give even the slightest inkling that it’s based on a grand-scale epic masterpiece is something else entirely. The whole universe is at stake here, but 'The Dark Tower' wastes precious time before it delivers any big moments, which then only arrive care of listless and muddled action sequences."
"The Dark Tower" is in theaters Friday