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The Dark Tower (2017)  

Review: written 2017

Engaging – but unremarkable

Epic novels can lead to either a storyline that becomes so shortened it feels fractured, or a movie so long it can feel baggy. This adaptation from Stephen King’s novel happily manages to steer a path that avoids either pitfall. For those uninitiated in the novel (like myself) the story zips along, and reaches an unsurprising conclusion. The set up is intriguing enough, with our 11 year old hero (surprisingly non-irritating and actually quite believeable) becoming increasingly troubled by dreams and visions of another world. Nobody believes him, but it isn’t too long before he finds himself the centre of some unwelcome attention which leads to him escaping into the other world. Here he meets the gunslinger, whose role is to protect the Dark Tower, but is more interested in revenge. The leads do well, and McConaughey appears to be having a blast as the Man in Black (no, not a Johnny cash impersonator) casually ordering people to stop breathing with nary a second thought. Idris Elba is gaining a reputation as someone who can add gravitas to a role, and he does so here.. but it’s unlikely this film will significantly add to his reputation. There are other interesting characters along the way – but just as you think you might get to like them we move on to the next scene. The result makes this pass muster as another fantasy / thriller /escapism movie to add to the pile, but not enough to make it stand out from the pack.

It is surprisingly entertaining, but fails to be truly gripping – neither scary enough or epic enough to support the affection the book is held in by many. My optimistic side says this will make a great start to a series of films that have more complexity. My fear is it may be a lost opportunity.

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