‘The Dark Tower’ is a little better than OK

Dark Tower (Columbia Pictures)

Dark Tower (Columbia Pictures)

Full disclosure: I’m a fan of the old Stephen King. And even though the beginnings of “The Dark Tower” started about thirty-five years ago with the first book, “The Gunslinger” and continued on through the years with a number of books continuing the story. I’ll also admit that I lost the point of the series waiting for years between installments. So it was rather refreshing to see “The Dark Tower” put the whole thing together.

Idris Elba plays the iconic gunslinger: a group of people charged with protecting something called the dark tower. The dark tower protects numerous worlds from invading demons and monsters. Elba does a good job bringing the character forward with just enough background to almost make you care about him. And almost is the key word here because, as good as Elba was, his character didn’t get you revved up to protect the tower or the other key character Jake Chambers, played by Tom Taylor.

Taylor was a believable adolescent who would draw the images in his dreams. So many images he could almost put a story together which included the big, bad Dark Man, played by Matthew McConaughey.

McConaughey is the type of bad guy I envisioned when reading the novels, but his character added an almost silly comedy which lessened the serious impact his character should have projected.

McConaughey could walk past someone and just say “stop breathing” and it would happen. Or tell two people to kill each other. And that’s where the movie comes close to the value of books: it doesn’t show the two people killing each other. Instead you hear the commotion and are left to imagine what is happening yourself.

It’s one thing to write a script and have someone act it out and quite another to just give you a guide and have you think and imagine the outcome yourself. This is an effect that should be used more frequently in today’s movies.

There is a lot left unexplained and I think it is a liability for the movie. What is the Dark Tower? Where did it come from? How are gunslingers made? What do gunslingers do? Where did the Dark Man come from and why is he doing what he’s doing?

As a King fan I noticed references to other King novels. Here, they say Jake has the ‘shine’, which is a reference to “The Shining.” I’m sure you’ll see other references as well.

The movie itself was just a little better than OK. It runs 95 minutes and is rated PG13 because of the gun play and mild violence. You’ll be impressed with the gunslinger’s abilities. I laughed a little bit when the gunslinger discovered speed loaders.

The Dark Tower was entertaining and you won’t get bored.

I’ll give it three out of four Miners.