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Jeri Jacquin

In theatres this Friday from director Nikolaj Arcel and Columbia Pictures is a novel to screen with the highly anticipated THE DARK TOWER.

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is a young man dealing with the loss of his father. Continuing to have bad dreams, he tries to explain them to his mother Laurie (Katheryn Winnick). She and Jake’s step-father have been sending the young man for professional help but only he knows that it’s not needed.

He dreams about the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) and a world that includes a gunslinger named Roland Deschain (Idris Elba). The Man in Black named Walter is looking for a way to take down the Dark Tower and cause an apocalypse that reverberates into several worlds in the service of the Crimson King.

Jake holds the key with his ability known as ‘the shine’ and Walter wants it badly because it’s the only way to bring down the tower. Constantly fighting to stop it, Roland loses his father causing him to only focus on revenge in Mid-World.

When Jake puts together the pieces from his dreams, he finds his way to into Roland’s world. Roland takes the boy to a seer to discover what his dreams and drawings mean and if they can lead them to Walter. Instead, the two need to run into Jake’s world or as Roland calls it Keystone Earth to think of a plan that will get them swiftly to the Man in Black and stop his plan.

But the shine is calling out to Walter making it easier to find the two leading to a showdown where the two worlds work together to survive!

Taylor as Jakes gives the performance of a young man who is torn about the death of his father and the nightmares that plague him. There isn’t anyone who truly believes what he is drawing and even his therapist isn’t on board. Taylor’s character is withdrawn and sullen looking for answers but I think I saw him smile once.

Elba as Roland plays the troubled gunslinger that is angry about what is happening in his world. When revenge takes over, others begin to wonder if he is the gunslinger after all being the only one left. Elba says little except when reciting a creed taught to him by his father and keeps a brooding feel throughout the film which kind of bums me out because there isn’t ‘acting’ in his act.

McConaughey as the Man in Black is pretty much evil down to his core yet keeps his cool every moment. There is something between he and Roland that keeps his ‘magiks’ from penetrating the gunslingers mind. McConaughey has the perfect ensembles and hair while performing his evil deeds and Walter doesn’t mince words but that’s about it.

Winnick as Laurie wants to believe her son but with the pressure from hubby she believes that sending him away for the weekend could help things. Jackie Earle Haley as Sayre is the yes-man for Walter having one of the portals between worlds.

Other cast includes Jackie Earle Haley as Sayre, Abbey Lee as Tirana, Nicholas Hamilton as Lucas Hanson, Dennis Haysbert as Steven Deschain, Michael Barbieri as Timmy, Claudia Kim as Arra, Fran Kranz as Pimli and Joe Suniga as Dr. Hotchkiss.

TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE DARK TOWER three tubs of popcorn five. It is definitely an adventure and I can see how there could be more to it all which means I might have to read the books. Elba and Taylor work so well together even though that means the basically brood together. They are the yin and yang of each other which plays out.

I suppose my only problem with the film is that I expected so, so, so much more. The running time is about 90 minutes yet there was nothing that really wow’d me, made me giggle a few times but no wow at all. They called Jake’s gift ‘shine’ which is a nice homage to the young boy Danny from 1980 film THE SHINING and the tower looks much like the tall residence of both Saruman and the Eye of Sauron from LORD OF THE RINGS.

There is also reference to Excalibur which made my head do a questioning shake of “whaaaaa?” Maybe it’s that I had the film figured out from start to finish the moment Jake ran away which is irritating since I haven’t read the books.

Okay, perhaps I’m just getting cranky wanting more from Hollywood in general and THE DARK TOWER is a prime example of why. Lets be honest, there is no character development really which would have been nice for those of us who haven’t had the time to delve into the printed page.

There are so many references to other Stephen King films that if I wanted to see them I’d just stay home and watch – well – Stephen King films! I really hate it too because I’m a King fan (not to be confused with the Crimson King like I know who that is) from years and years of reading so it sucks to write a so-so review. Then again, it’s not like he’s going to lose a dime over this person’s opinion of the film.

A far more interesting tidbit is that THE DARK TOWER began with a book written by Stephen King based on a poem by Robert Browning called Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came.

In the end – in a world of superheroes there is only one gunslinger!

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