Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *
Cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Franz Kranz, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley, Dennis Haysbert, Katheryn Winnick, Nicholas Pauling, Michael Barbieri, Jose Zuniga Eva Kaminsky, Robbie McLean, Karl Thaning.
The world is not always as we see it, there are millions of possibilities at play every day that we do not realise or refuse to witness what can be outside of our sphere of existence. It is a premise that has been used over and over again to great effect, that time, that the ability to see beyond is one of great intrigue and one that Stephen King has used to great effect for over 40 years as one of the pre-eminent writers of the 20th and 21st Century.
The world is an illusion, the world is whatever we believe it to be and for Stephen King and The Dark Tower series, the world is one of fantasy and mayhem, of good and evil and one wrapped up neatly in The Dark Tower film.
It would be difficult for any Stephen King to argue with the casting of Matthew McConaughey as Walter O’Dim, The Man in Black. Possibly for the new comer to the long list of literature offered by the Master of 20th and early 21st horror they may not have given much thought to the whole cannon involving the man of a thousand names who is sprawled and seen in many of Mr. King’s novels.
However look back and think of the image you may have had, The Walking Dude who plays such a big part in The Stand and who can be seen wearing cowboy boots and manipulating what is left of the population after the Flu called Captain Trips, then Matthew McConaughey is the only man who could have played this malevolent character with any hope of capturing the tension and gravitas required.
The film does let itself down by condensing down the plot offered by the books but with the explanation of it all coming up in other tie-ins to the King universe, it perhaps is only right to have kept the action and scheme down to its minimum, after all this is not Star Wars or some other capriccios child of cinema, it is book adaptation in which Stephen King flexes the muscles of those than those who inhabit the horror genre.
It has to be remembered that with few exceptions, adaptations of the writer’s work have generally been unfavourable, The Shining, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and even Salem’s Lot and Christine to an extent have been the exceptions rather than the hard and fast rule. To take on something as loved The Dark Tower and make it work would have been a tall ask, like The Stand it is fraught with pitfalls, somebody is always going to find holes, dangers, the sense of being let down because their expectations far exceed what is possible.
Take The Dark Tower as a stand-alone piece in cannon to follow and the design will play out, Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey ooze that confidence when on screen enough to surely offer that.
A good film, one that might come to be seen as one of the better adaptations of a Master’s work; The Dark Tower story is not over yet.
Ian D. Hall