By: Felix Felicis (Four Beers) –
Fun Fact: You can’t spell “meh” without “me” (and so I was thoroughly whelmed by Steven Spielberg’s latest adcraptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series and living embodiment of mediocre entertain-mehnt). This shallow, confusing, sequel/spinoff/rebootquel of the novels is somehow meant to pull elements from all the books but still stand alone as an origin story/sequel to the source material. BRB. Sticking my head in a toaster bath after trying to relate what I saw with what I was meant to see.
Cards on the table, here, I didn’t actually read the source material beforehand due to the reportedly odd piecemeal structure of how they built the narrative for Dark Tower on screen. This may have been a mistake because going into Dark Tower blind is kind of like walking into a pitch-black room filled with flying whack-a-mole mallets. You’re one thousand percent gonna get nailed in the face, repeatedly, by something you don’t understand where it’s coming from. Slight-to-moderate spoilers ahead, avast ye, matey, ye’ve been warrrrrrned.
The film follows psychic wunderkind, Jake Chambers (introducing relative newcomer Tom Taylor) as his dreams poke through the fabric of reality into another world. An alternate world of magic and guns as he sees a Man In Black (Matthew McConaughey in what I can only assume is an extended-Lincoln-commercial acting headspace) trying to topple a tower holding evil outside the universe at bay. But wait! Brace yourselves for the only reason not to immediately fall asleep as The Gunslinger (aka Idris Elba and his six-plus-feet of chocolatey goodness) tracks the evil sorcerer down on a mission to murder his face real hard for… reasons. Chambers escapes the clutches of skinsuit-wearing rat people (fuck if I know) who are abducting psychic kids for the Man In Black because of… reasons… To track down the Gunslinger and help him go murder city on the sorcerer for… reasons. Bullets and bland dialogue fly like a mild breeze until the credits roll and you’re free to stagger on out of the theater (possibly) mildly entertained.
Idris Elba was everything good about this movie. He did everything he could to make the Gunslinger, Roland, more than a gruff, two-dimensional caterpillar, trying (and failing) to break out of the shallow-character chrysalis though it was, sadly, not even close to enough to propel this beached whale of a snoozefest anywhere near interesting waters.
I also may have laughed, slightly maniacally, at Jake’s mom, Laurie (Vikings‘ Katheryn Winnick) biting the dust in a super brutal and yet hugely anti-climactic manner, like, the way they expect this kid to deal with his mom’s death on the fly is savagely hilarious. Please note: I am a terrible person and find terrible things darkly humorous. I also admire the “zero fucks given” wrap up that basically has a fully grown man invite a kid he’s known roughly twenty-four hours along for a psychic orphan’s intergalactic rodeo at the end of the film. Because why the hell not.
I literally don’t even know where to begin to describe what went wrong with Dark Tower but the half-empty bottle of peppermint schnapps sitting on my desk would like to suggest, perhaps, that MAYBE DECIDE IF YOUR MOVIE IS A DIRECT ADAPTATION OF A NOVEL, A SEQUEL TO A SERIES OF NOVELS, OR A REBOOTQUEL TO THE WHOLE SERIES INSTEAD OF A NARRATIVE GANGBANG CLUSTERFUCK OF ALL THREE BEFORE FILMING A SINGLE FUCKING FRAME, HMMMM? ‘Kay? Good talk.
Dark Tower heavily borrowed on the expectation that they were playing to a built-in fanbase who would all have read the entire eight-book series before sitting down to this extremely anemic outline of a fantasy-driven adventure. Nothing was explained and almost anything that WAS explained happened as an extreme afterthought, most notably shoe-horning in details on the fly that seem like they should be a big fucking deal (like the fact that Roland is descended from an alternate universe King Arthur and his guns are forged from what we would consider Excalibur with all of this happening in maybe two lines of dialogue OH BUT THEY HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD TO REPEAT SHITTY-ASS LINES AD INFINITUM COMING OUT MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY’S MOUTH).
Picture a sad clown. Picture that clown picking up a broken crayon and drawing a series of two-dimensional dicks all over your face. Congratulations, you’ve just experienced the equivalent of the kind of nuanced character depth you can expect from Dark Tower. NO YOU LEAVE THOSE DICKS ON YOUR FACE, SUSAN, YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID. Author’s note: Susan is the studio-exec stand-in who greenlit this mediocre shitsicle after it languished in development hell for a decade switching out writers, directors, and actors more expendable than a T-Swift squad member. Make sure to check Matthew McConaughey’s tepid pulse every once in awhile because either the Man In Black is afraid of facial expressions or McConaughey’s contract docked ten grand for every line delivered outside of a narcoleptic drawl.
This was the longest ninety minutes of my life. Which is almost impressive considering the lack of anything resembling effort put towards the script, dialogue, and/or pacing in Dark Tower. I’m gonna do some rough computations and say that 40% of the dialogue is the Gunslinger oath repeated until you wanna drink whatever Kool-Aide will end the pain.
Another 50% of the dialogue is Matthew McConaughey telling people to “stop breathing”, “have a great apocalypse”, and/or that they’re “the whole package… as advertised”.
There’s another 10% in there somewhere for the sound of Roland loading bullets into his gun. Dark Tower was a rough one because there were sparks of an interesting idea (that never quite caught fire) somewhere deep inside the bland colon of creativity that squeezed out a passable cinematic turd I’m only too happy to flush on down the pipes of obscure mediocrity ASAP.
The Dark Tower is the “I know I walked into this room for a reason though fuck if I can remember why” of movies. Fingers crossed old age or my next tequila bender robs me of this memory.
The Dark Tower (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: whenever anyone repeats the Gunslinger motto.
Take a Shot: every time that Matthew McConaughey tells someone to die.
Take a Sip: whenever Jake uses his shine to see or dream about the Man In Black.
Take a Drink: each time a portal or tower-beam-weapon is used.
Shotgun Your Beer: when bullets beat glass.