Taglines: In a world of superheroes, there is only one gunslinger.
There are other worlds than these. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, the ambitious and expansive story from one of the world’s most celebrated authors, makes its launch to the big screen. The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.
The Dark Tower is a 2017 American dark fantasy western film directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel. A continuation of Stephen King’s novel series of the same name, the film stars Idris Elba as Roland Deschain, a gunslinger on a quest to protect the Dark Tower—a mythical structure which supports all realities—while Matthew McConaughey plays his nemesis, Walter Padick, the Man in Black, and Tom Taylor stars as Jake Chambers, a New York boy who becomes Roland’s apprentice.
Intended to launch a film and television franchise, the first installment combines elements from several novels in the eight-volume series, and takes place in both modern-day New York City and in Mid-World, Roland’s Old West-style parallel universe. The film also serves as a canonical sequel to the novel series, which concludes with the revelation that Roland’s quest is a cyclical time loop; the presence of the Horn of Eld, which Roland carries in the film, indicates that this is the next cycle.
The Dark Tower premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City on July 31, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States by Columbia Pictures on August 4, 2017. As of October 20, 2017, The Dark Tower has grossed $50.7 million in the United States and Canada and $61.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $111.8 million, against a production budget of $60 million.
In North America, The Dark Tower was released alongside the opening of Kidnap, as well as the wide expansion of Detroit, and was projected to gross around $20 million from 3,451 theaters in its opening weekend. It made $1.8 million from Thursday previews at 2,770 theaters, with screenings beginning at 7:19 p.m. as an ode to the 19:19 of Stephen King lore present in the book series, and $7.7 million on its first day. The film went on to debut to $19.5 million, dethroning two-time defender Dunkirk as the top film at the box office, although it was the second lowest gross for a film to finish number one in all of 2017. In its second weekend the film dropped 58.9% to $7.9 million, finishing 4th at the box office.
Film Review for The Dark Tower
From The Shining to The Shawshank Redemption, Stephen King’s writing has inspired many memorable movies. That’s why it is all the more disappointing that The Dark Tower turns out such a dud. All the elements appear to be here.
The film boasts a strong hero in the “Gunslinger” (Idris Elba) and what should be an equally memorable villain in the mercurial, shape shifting Walter O’Dim, aka “the Man in Black” (Matthew McConaughey).
It has monsters, portals into hidden universes, Matrix-like fight scenes and plenteous references to old spaghetti westerns. Its Danish director Nikolaj Arcel was behind the excellent costume pic, A Royal Affair.
The Dark Tower running time has Stephen King fans concerned
Its likeable child lead Jake (Tom Chambers) has plenty of vim about him. The film, though, just doesn’t hang together properly. It doesn’t have much emotional oomph either. Characters here see their nearest and dearest killed – and then just carry on about their business as if nothing has happened.
Story wise, we’re in a hi-tech version of sword and sorcery territory. There’s a gigantic tower at the centre of the universe protecting everyone “from the darkness.” The Gunslinger (whose gun is made out of the same steel found in King Arthur’s Excalibur) is fighting to keep the mighty tower intact. The man in black wants to topple it, using energy that kids like the very “pure” Jake can unleash.
Jake is living in New York (part of “keystone earth”) with his mother and stepfather. He is still traumatised by the death of his father and is prey to nightmares and visions in which he sees characters from other worlds.
In the right role, McConaughey is a superb actor. Here, he is little more than a glorified pantomime villain, smirking gleefully into the camera as he commits each fresh misdeed.
Elba is playing an intergalactic variation on Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name but crossed with an Arthurian knight and with a long coat that could have been borrowed from Keanu Reeves in The Matrix. It’s not a role that allows him to do much more than growl, shoot off his guns at O’Dim and act bewildered when he eats a hot dog for the first time in contemporary New York.
The film is an unwieldy mish-mash of sci-fi, western and a Huck Finn-like kids’ yarn, with some Harry Potter elements thrown in for good measure. It has some very ghoulish moments (aliens having their rubbery faces gashed and pulled off) and some very trite ones.
The ending leaves the way open for sequels but, like the ill fated Philip Pullman adaptation The Golden Compass, this is one potential franchise that looks likely to stall at the starting gate.
The Dark Tower (2017)
Directed by: Nikolaj Arcel
Starring: Katheryn Winnick, Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba, Abbey Lee, Claudia Kim, Jackie Earle Haley, Alex McGregor, Sara Cicilian, De-Wet Nagel, Inge Beckmann, Nicholas Hamilton, Adison Eisenberg
Screenplay by: Nikolaj Arcel, Akiva Goldsman
Production Design by: Christopher Glass
Cinematography by: Rasmus Videbæk
Film Editing by: Alan Edward Bell
Costume Design by: Trish Summerville
Set Decoration by: Anneke Botha
Art Direction by: Audra Avery, Yuri Bartoli, Maria Labuschagne, Patrick O’Connor, Catherine Palmer, Guy Potgieter
Music by: Junkie XL
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: February 17, 2017