My father has returned from his trip to Australia, and so we went out for dinner and a movie to celebrate. I requested The Dark Tower for the night's entertainment. The series is literally the only Stephen King I've enjoyed reading, and I've excited about this adaptation for a while now.
My Quickie Review
A Longer Review
The story, to be clear, centres on Jake Chambers, a particularly gifted boy of the sort the man in black is hunting down. This is not the main thrust of the story in the novels, but it really did work. Roland's own story is so broad and sprawling that a two hour film could not possibly do it justice. They were right, I think, to focus on Jake.
Incidentally, regarding Jake, this movie was much happier than the books... so... There's that. People who've read the books will understand.
That said, the depth of the relationship between Roland and Jake was wildly under-explored in this film. That's really more to the nature of the medium, than any fault of the writers or actors. It's almost impossible to spend time on the small, meaningless moments that would convey such a bond, without making the film run for at least an hour more. There simply wasn't enough time to prove that bond.
Similarly, there is a fight Jake has with a house demon that had the potential to be a very scary scene. It was under-served in the film, lasting, I want to say, all of a minute. It could have been a bit longer, a bit more frightening, at least a little more true to the books.
That said, the inclusion of the house demon at all was great, as was the inclusion of Roland's infection. For those who have read the books, Roland's infection happens in a vastly different way (no lobstrocities, alas), but it actually worked well for the film. I liked these small nods to the events in the source material, even if the restrictions of the medium required monumental changes to them.
As far as the acting goes, everyone involved was excellent. Matthew McConaughey plays the man in black in spectacular fashion. He is entirely believable as the gaunt, soulless sorcerer trying to bring about the apocalypse. Walter is frightening in this film, a threat that is played so smoothly you are immediately drawn in. He has the right charisma to play something so evil.
The boy who played Jake was also amazing in his role. The actor's name is Tom Taylor, and he is genuinely wonderful in the role. That was some great casting, there. I really did feel for him.
Last, but not least, Idris Elba was brilliant as the Roland Deschain, last of the line of Eld. While he certainly doesn't look how I imagined Roland to appear when reading the books, he was fantastic in the role. While the film really did under-serve his character, Mr. Elba played what was given beautifully. All you broflakes can go cry yourself to sleep. Idris was awesome as the last Gunslinger, and now I won't be able to see anyone else play him. Idris is Roland. And a damned fine one too.
My one gripe is that there was not enough of him. There needed to be more of the kick-arse moments showing what a Gunslinger can do; how they might have been such an incredible force to be reckoned with, and thus showing, by their defeat, how powerful and terrifying the villain is.
Oh, I have another gripe: The weird cheesy ending. The whole movie was dark and fantastic, and then the ending felt pulled straight out of an 80's feel-good film (though the sign on the movie theatre Roland and Jake walk past made me laugh. I really appreciated that).
I will probably be adding this to my personal collection... not least of all to rewatch those kick-arse gunslinging moments. I wish there were more of them.