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DVD REVIEW: ‘Dark Tower’ casts a pall, not just a shadow

October 28, 2017 GMT

If you’re looking for a Razzie nominee for Worst Film of the Year, you might look at “The Dark Tower.”

Based on Stephen King’s novels, it could make reading popular. So much is missing from the film you feel like you slipped away during an important part.

Even worse? Matthew McConaughey is such a poor choice to play the Man in Black, you never quite buy his menace.

He’s a strutting force who somehow wants to harness the mental power of a kid to take down a big black tower that’s somewhere in the sky.

Because we don’t know much about this parallel (or is it alternate?) universe, we’re not quite sure where everything exists.

Idris Elba turns up as The Gunslinger and he, too, is shrouded in mystery. What we can discern is he’s a good guy protecting a young boy from potential captors.

In essence, it’s a western played out on the streets of New York.

Director Nikolaj Arcel has so many balls in the air it’s hard to tell if the realistic sections or the “portal” parts are worse.

Besides Elba, who’s great as a old-school cowboy, “The Dark Tower” succeeds whenever young Tom Taylor is on screen. He’s the boy with powers (and visions) thrust in this freaky world.

Because he spends so much time focusing on the Dark Tower he has drawn (he’s art-school level good), the boy is seen as trouble – at school and at home. His mom and stepdad want to send him to some camp for disturbed kids that could get at the heart of the problem.

Unfortunately, the camp is a way for the Man in Black to seize him. The boy figures as much and, then, “The Dark Tower” becomes one big chase.

It reaches a showdown but it’s not exactly the big build you’d expect. While Elba does his best version of Clint Eastwood, McConaughey channels Dr. Strange. The two don’t meet at any middle.

Arcel’s special effects are equally dicey. The gunshots look good; but the lair that houses the Man in Black could have been a set for a junior high musical.

If there’s anything worth praising, it’s the film’s running time. Mercifully, Arcel keeps this to less than two hours. Any more and the ride would be unbearable.

While Taylor – who’s a bright kid – and Elba would tower in any production, someone should have rethought McConaughey’s casting. He’s good in many roles. This isn’t one of them.

Because there’s too much to explain, “The Dark Tower” should have been left for adaptation in another format. A TV series could have done it justice.

This doesn’t.