Eppler: Calm down, "Dark Tower" isn't terrible

Eppler: Calm down, "Dark Tower" isn't terrible

Fans of Stephen King's multi-volume "Dark Tower" book series waited years for some kind of adaptation to the screen. After a number of fits and starts and rumors, it finally arrived this weekend and debuted at number one, although with a number low enough to put the possibility for more of these movies in serious doubt. The total of $19.5 million is at least bitterly ironic because fans know the number 19 is prevalent throughout series. 

Fans will also know this movie has very little in common with the books. I wondering, why buy the rights to a book series if you're just gonna toss ignore most of it? So as a fan of the books, I'm deeply annoyed with this movie. But judged on its own merits, the movie kinda works. Believe me - I was ready to hate it.

"The Dark Tower" is a shaken cocktail of western, sci-fi and fantasy with some genuinely cool moments and performances that come close to making up for a lot of bad film making decisions. 

Tom Taylor has real range as Jack Chambers, a kid tortured by dreams and visions of another world where there's a heroic gunslinger, a demonic man in black and a tower that holds all worlds together. Jake winds up transported to this world where he meets Idris Elba as Roland, who's working to hunt down Matthew McConaughey's Man in Black.

Turns out, Jake's visions could be of use to both the good and the bad, and the movie turns into a pretty standard-issue "protect the special kid from the bad guy."

McConaughey is having a lot of fun, and that's contagious. And this was Elba's first real chance to show he's a star capable of leading a franchise. This great actor keeps getting stuck behind masks ("Thor"), makeup ("Star Trek Beyond") and animation ("Zootopia," "The Jungle Book"). Here, he's able to hint he's the real deal. It's just that the movie doesn't give him a lot of time to develop much.

This movie is in a big darn hurry. Running just 95 minutes, it jumps around a lot. Scenes end just when it feels like they're starting. And Nikolaj Arcel proves he's a rather clumsy action director. But some of it looks pretty cool, at least.

"The Dark Tower" is entertaining when it's not frustrating. There's tremendous potential to build on this world and mythology.   

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