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Dark Tower Review: Not a Faithful Cinematic Adaptation of Stephen King's Sprawling Literary Creation

Terrific acting and the palpable rapport between the three leads (a tenor, bass and baritone, as it were) can't improve effete special effects or a shallow, cobbled together screenplay.

Shantanu David | News18.com

Updated:August 25, 2017, 9:23 PM IST
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Dark Tower Review: Not a Faithful Cinematic Adaptation of Stephen King's Sprawling Literary Creation
The poster of The Dark Tower film (Image courtesy: AFP Relaxnews)
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Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor


That weird kid Jake Chambers has been drawing again. His monochromatic works are singular in their theme featuring The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), seemingly a human, but commanding terrifying supernatural powers as well as a warlike goblinesque race, who don full human skins (and clothes, obviously; it isn't THAT kind of fantasy film) to fit and also please their boss' apparent sense of aesthetics.

This clearly evil lot regularly round up chosen kids and hook them up into some machine which weaponizes their "something" into this huge laser beam that keeps trying to break down a vast dark tower (dramatic music) that soars into space.

Also, the world this lot inhabits has two moons and a shortage of guns and bullets. So it's clearly not earth. Jake has also started dreaming (yes, he draws what he dreams) about a lone man - man's friends and family all recently deceased - who's out to stop them from destroying the apparently important dark tower: a man fighting this evil, with guns. He's The Gunslinger (Idris Elba), which was also the name of Stephen King's first book in a series that covers multiple worlds, cultures and the intertwined destinies of The Man in Black, The Gunslinger, and, er, Jake Chambers. And now this universe is coming to a theater near you.

Is The Dark Tower an acceptable or even faithful cinematic adaptation of King's sprawling literary creation? Emphatically no. To have elements from all eight books condensed into a single film which is a little more than 90 minutes, even if it's the first of a franchise, is a grotesque travesty.

Terrific acting and the palpable rapport between the three leads (a tenor, bass and baritone, as it were) can't improve effete special effects or a shallow, cobbled together screenplay. While the most memorable scenes from the film are when the characters are verbally sparring, these are too few and far between indifferent gun battles which may or may not feature some otherworldly monstrosity and the kind of laws of physics that helped Rajnikanth's action film career.

And yet, dear reader, it's a decent watch. Old readers of King would do well to pay attention to the minutiae and throw away lines, for they are an homage to the multiverse that King has created in his books over four-plus decades. References to It (coming to the big screen next month) and other canon abound, or rather, crawl through the plot without affecting/infecting it. Meanwhile non-readers shall no doubt find the sanitized cinematic version occupying, if not memorable.

King's oeuvre is so mired in Lovecraftian lore, it's hard to differentiate between the eldritch on and off screen. Elder and Outer Gods are hinted at and most monsters follow the Cthulhu school of design. And it sort of works.

Rating: 2.5/5
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