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The Dark Tower – More Tower, Less Dark

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The adoption of Stephen King’s novel, The Dark Tower, incorporates a number of cliches into the plot-line in this summer’s somewhat predictable science fiction gunslinger dystopian film. Only the mind of a child can bring down The Dark Tower- a looming guardian that protects worlds from mass destruction and hell-bent harm- and that’s exactly what Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has. Dealing with the psychological aftermath of losing his father, his dreams become night terrors of The Man in Black and the Gunslinger, who become all too real despite Chambers’ beliefs protested by his mother, stepfather, and countless therapists. Chambers suits the typical character of troubled youth that longs to be understood and is viewed as unstable. He often is seen bringing his visions to life with haunting illustrations that are exaggeratedly pinned to his wall. When he faces his vulnerability and is nearly institutionalized, he flees and locates a building that is seen in of his dreams and recognizes it via his own artwork. Contrary to the size of Manhattan, everything seems to be obvious and convenient in favor of Chambers as he uncovers a portal to seemingly fictional worlds. Walter Padick (Matthew McConaughey,) otherwise known as The Man in Black, is the enchanting villain that his victims can’t quite say ‘no’ to. Granted with the manipulating control over his preys’ mind and body, he pinpoints children with a peculiar mutation to them, the Shine. The Shine allows telekinesis and an extreme bought of mental capability to its possessor- Jake Chambers. Padick wields the minds of unsuspectingly powerful children to attempt the obliteration of The Dark Tower to shed his darkness and fire, a common motif throughout the course of the film, onto other worlds. He carries death, a Reaper of sorts, though doesn’t lack demonic charm and a well-fitting V-neck pressed shirt. He keeps his voice mellow and level as he demands what he needs out of others before he apathetically ends them. Padick is portrayed as if Supernatural‘s Fergus Crowley and Good Omen‘s Anthony Crowley were two demons to one man. Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) appears to have stepped out of Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed as he is draped with long, leather trench-coat and a holster that always seems to be capacitated with bullets and a matching pair of guns.  The costuming design and location scenes are the most flattering pieces to the brief adaptation of the novel, leaving context and plot holes for moviegoers to fill on their own. “All Hail the Crimson King” is written numerous times but not once is he spoken of.  Coping with his own loss and grief, Deschain skeptically allows Chambers to follow in pursuit of The Man in Black to fulfill his own vengeance and to defend the Tower. In the face of their deceiving fears, and poorly animated special effects, a mentoring relationship is built between the pair as the former gunslinger advises Chambers in lessons on courage, moral and how to handle a gun. As they embark, returns to New York are frequently made. It gives director Nikolaj Arcel (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, King’s Game) the opportunity to interject the chaos and confusion with common humor in which Padick is oblivious to human society while hospitalized for his wounds. The climax of the film leaves heroes defeating both Padick and his unexplained mind-harnessing contraption, and Chambers grasping a total understanding of his ability though they had never challenged him upon meeting Deschain. End credits flood the screen as the film closes with the inevitability of a sequel to follow. With a weak supporting cast, Sony has created a mediocre adaptation of a malleable story. The Dark Tower is ideal for those who want to watch a short film- with a running time of an hour and thirty-five minutes- and yet not remain extremely disappointed.

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