‘The Dark Tower’ Review Round-Up: Here’s What Critics Are Saying

Written By: Nick Poulimenakos

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower is frequently cited as his magnum opus. For well over a decade now, Hollywood has been trying to adapt the eight novel series and now, we finally have the first film in a proposed franchise. The Dark Tower, starring Idris Elba as The Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black hits theatres this weekend and reviews have finally hit the web. So, what do critics think of the latest Stephen King adaptation? To sum it up… it’s meh…

The film currently sits at an alarming 18% on Rotten Tomatoes with reviews ranging from calling it a decently strong start to a franchise to a dull, mediocre film that wastes its A-list talent. Check out what critics are saying below!

Marty Sliva from IGN:

The Dark Tower is a thoroughly average take on some truly incredible source material. While the fantastic leads do the best with what they’re given, it’s ultimately not enough to compensate for a lack of time spent building characters and their motivations in the script. A good-looking shell of an great epic is all here, but peeling back the veneer reveals that there’s not a whole lot going on underneath. For a story where the literal fate of the universe is at stake, it’s disappointingly easy to not really care about anything that’s happening on screen.

Kate Erbland from Indiewire:

And while this all sounds fantastical and mind-bending, “The Dark Tower” is startlingly low on both energy or any larger sense of magic or a wider world beyond whatever Jake is able to experience. While Elba and Taylor make a fine match, and the film picks up tremendous steam once they’re paired together, the script’s aim to keep things as lean and tight as possible mean they’re forced to rush through a complex story that deserves much more than a time-strapped take that gets significantly less interesting as it goes along.

John DeFore from The Hollywood Reporter:

Though far from the muddled train wreck we’ve been led to expect, this Tower lacks the world-constructing gravitas of either the Tolkien books that inspired King or the franchise-launching movies that Sony execs surely have in mind. Though satisfying enough to please many casual moviegoers drawn in by King’s name and stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, it will likely disappoint many serious fans and leave other newbies underwhelmed.

Owen Gleiberman from Variety:

Here’s what I saw. “The Dark Tower” has been plagued by tales of last-minute re-editing and multiple cooks in the kitchen, but the movie that’s come out of all this is no shambles. It aims low and hits (sort of). It’s a competent and watchable paranoid metaphysical video game that doesn’t overstay its welcome, includes some luridly entertaining visual effects, and — it has to be said — summons an emotional impact of close to zero. Which in a film like this one isn’t necessarily a disadvantage.

Dan Callahan from The Wrap:

Most of the scenes in “The Dark Tower” feel like a desperate compromise of some kind, and often there seem to be scenes missing that would simply get us from one point to another. With fantasy material like this, we need to be made to believe in the inventions and the conceits, and we cannot do that if they are shot and staged in such a truncated and perfunctory way.

Mike Reyes from Cinemablend:

There’s a fair amount of pre-conceived buzz going around pertaining to The Dark Tower, due to the supposedly troubled production cycle and significant history of stalled attempts in the project’s past, and it’s kind of unfair. While The Dark Towermay leave a little more to be desired, it’s a pretty strong start to a promising series. Most importantly, it’s a visual spectacle of action and fantasy that leaves the audience wanting more, while delivering one of the last thrills in store for this summer’s box office season. I want more Dark Tower films, if only so we can see Roland and the Man in Black fulfill this last hand destiny has dealt them; and now, I need to read the books to see where they started their game of death. To paraphrase the Man in Black himself, we deserve at least one more time around the wheel with these old friends.

Darren Franich from Entertainment Weekly:

Bad dialogue, lame plot, fine. The bigger issue: How could a film with Elba and McConaughey have so little swagger? “The Man in Black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed,” goes the perfect first line of King’s first story. There’s your cinema: Darkness, wasteland, gunslinger. You could watch that tableau for hours: It’s a Sergio Leone movie in twelve words. Director Nicolaj Arcel tips his hat towards the original cinematic inspiration — a movie theater in the background promises “Spaghetti Week at the Majestic!” But The Dark Towerdoesn’t want to be a western, barely spends any time in the desert, barely spends time anywhere, really. The plot is needlessly busy, cut to death at 90 minutes; whenever the pace lags, Arcel cuts back to the Man in Black’s control room, where people tell him things like (paraphrasing) “We’re trying to find the psychic” and “We’re still trying to find the psychic.”

Brian Truitt from USA Today:

So much potential in terms of star power and source material goes to waste simply because it seems like the filmmakers couldn’t figure out what movie to make. Dark Tower tosses out a lot of plot threads that never go anywhere and even the ending is rushed, like somebody forgot to study for an essay test and then has to B.S. their way out of a failing grade.

Make no mistake, though, this is a fantastical faceplant, and though Elba tries his hardest, what could have been the tale of an iconic gunslinger is a big miss.

So what do you think? Are you going to see The Dark Tower this weekend? Comment below and on social media and for all things in nerd culture and entertainment, keep it locked on Talkies Network!

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