The Dark Tower star cast: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor
The Dark Tower director: Nikolaj Arcel
The Dark Tower rating: 1.5 stars
The film is based on an eight-novel magnum opus by Stephen King, centred around the concept of good vs evil. Arcel, thankfully, has concised the first of these (surely there will be more) into a 95-minute film.
So it is a race through the many concepts that drove the King series, from the legend of King Arthur and Excalibur, to the Westerns and their lone gunmen, to, by his own admission, The Lord of the Rings. All through, the film upholds a very clear idea of honour, family, legacy and other time-tested ideals that a hero must live by. “I don’t shoot with my hand, I shoot with my eye. I don’t kill with my hand, I kill with my heart… For the one who does otherwise has forgotten the face of his father,” is just one of the lines, uttered several times, that underpin the film’s belief system.
McConaughey, as the source of the evil that stands contrary to all such good things, slithers through the film in clothes as slick as his gelled hair, and a face that is tanned leather. He whispers or gestures to get inconveniences such as people out of the way.
There are a lot of people to be done away with, given that King has imagined a multiverse, of many worlds, across the universe, spaced around a ‘Dark Tower’. The tower is the source of the energy to these many worlds, and the only thing holding out the ‘darkness’ that threatens to engulf them. McConaughey is the face of that darkness.
Elba is ‘Gunslinger’ Roland, the hero of the ‘Mid-World’ holding out almost single-handedly against McConaughey’s Walter. Then there is the boy with the “shine”, Jack (Taylor), from ‘Keystone Earth’ (Earth, by another name), who has psychic powers, dreams about the epic fight between Roland and Walter, and finds himself in the middle of it.
Elba is a man of immense dignity, and as he walks the Wastelands or the streets of New York, crossing via “portals”, the sight of him standing between life and destruction is reassuring. Even Walter, in one of his rare generous moods, acknowledges this “tall, dark and handsome” man.
Some things remain constant, even in multiverse.