The Dark Tower

Year: 2017
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Starring: Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor

Written by Jo Craig

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.”

The brilliance of horror alum Stephen King, who must be close to finishing his fortress of dollar bills and near to retiring to Mid-World, has reigned king over his niche genre for years, writing unshakeable stories and creating meaty characters in his award—winning collection. Although there have been some questionable adaptation efforts in the form of ‘Cell’ and ‘Under the Dome’, King’s magnificent ‘The Dark Tower’ series has taken its time being brought to life on the big screen, much to the distress of fans, and has been met with radioactive devastation by receiving a magnitude of underwhelming opinions.

Keeping this punt to the stones in mind, and still remaining in the minority who shed some z’s watching ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, I want to turn the tide again and give logic to why ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ skipper, Nikolaj Arcel’s summarised end of summer blockbuster, might not be the sleep aid that everyone thinks.

Based on an eight-volume series of the same name, ‘The Dark Tower’ introduces eleven year old, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), who with the aid of his apocalyptic visions, locates a portal to Mid-world; a derelict wasteland in a parallel universe home to an ongoing battle between a gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) and his nemesis, Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), known as the “Man in Black”. Combining their efforts, Jake and Roland travel between worlds in an attempt to terminate Walter’s psychopathic plans to destroy a mythical monolith protecting both worlds from the evil behind the vale.

I will always adhere to the “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” scenario, and while a majority are black-bagging, there is a trail of Stephen King fans that commend ‘The Dark Tower’s’ natural ability to somehow remain loyal to the earthy tone of volume one, ‘The Gunslinger’, despite a good soaking by a watered down 12a certificate. Let’s be honest, a diluted, 95 minute visual representation of King’s raw kaleidoscope of survival, loyalty and dirty badassery, isn’t exactly what we had in mind. Be that as it may, knowing the potency of Roland Deschain’s undertakings on paper, certainly gave readers the advantage of previous emotional investment and a familiarity with the intricate components in King’s mad world. This leverage for readers inadvertently made the plot and concepts puzzling to newcomers, confusing where their perspective should lie. Arcel changed the point of view from The Gunslinger’s to Jake’s in a significant switch from the book that seemed to prevent the film from running on Cormac McCarthy steam, to being fuelled by a fresh injection of imagination and sorcery that delights after the recent success of the otherworldly TV Series adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s ‘American Gods’. Both of these visually reimagined stories gives credence to the idea that there is method in the madness that pleases both literally and visually, but takes the risk in abandoning new audiences.

An attractive cast list was undoubtedly going to be the water fountain in the desert, offering gritty chemistry between elite duo Idris Elba, entertaining with a grounded but cool-as-shit Gunslinger, and Matthew McConaughey, destroying everything in his path with his alluringly terrifying sorcery tricks. Newcomer Tom Taylor gave a believable performance as Roland’s protégé, acting out that kid explorer we all wanted to be at eleven with a charming energy. The dynamic trio slayed each of their roles by dominating the screen with strength and drawing those distinguishing rustic qualities from the written characters. “I do not kill with my gun; I kill with my heart.” was an overused Gunslingers oath, but incredibly satisfying to hear from Elba for any King buffs out there.

Getting the fandom points across, it’s fair to say ‘The Dark Tower’ is by no means an “outstanding” movie, with viewers expecting to immediately accept that some tower is under attack by a sorcerer in another dimension that causes rippling consequences in our world, while a stern cowboy’s running around New York with a psychic kid. I get it, it’s a lot to comprehend and pack into one film with a short running time, and this over-accelerated pace forced non-readers to uninvest. Our limited scenes in Mid-world showed true promise for a spectacular dystopian showdown, however our attention was called to the commercial world that ultimately banished a lot of the fascination. The exhausted slow-Mo action sequences were thankfully in short supply, aiding a few aptly timed scenes concerning The Gunslinger handling his weapons, enticing the coldest of demons to melt, and a reasonably sharp script from ‘I Am Legend’ writer Akiva Goldsman, was befitting for the actors to play with. 

While The Gunslingers first cinematic experience hasn’t broken new grounds, admirers of the book series may resonate with this anticipated fantasy being shown solid actors to stabilise the intricacy of Stephen King’s characters, and class ‘The Dark Tower’ as a sound addition to the geek bank. Certain insights during the film have indicated that the series will continue for another two films to make a trilogy, although this is now debatable after so many critics played the boredom card. Standing as a loyal enthusiast of both book and film, with any luck a change of director and restructuring could benefit this franchise before the bullets run out. 

Jo’s rating: 7 out of 10
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This Week In Film Trailers

Wonder Woman

With just under a month to go before ‘Wonder Woman’ is unleashed in cinemas across the globe, we are being treated to multiple new TV spots and posters, just in case you weren’t hyped up enough already. Fans of the TV Show ‘Gotham’ were treated to a sneak peek at ‘Wonder Woman’ on Monday night, which was shortly released online after it aired. This is one of my most anticipated films this year and with each trailer, TV spot, clip, and poster, my excitement continues to grow.

It’s been fantastic to see the support shown on social media for the film following some bloggers and websites questioning the films supposed lack of marketing in the lead up to it’s release. Daily I see people on Twitter counting down to it’s release, sharing the still, trailers and adverts, and generally spreading positivity and showing nothing but love for the film, cast, and crew.

“Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained to be an unconquerable warrior. Raised on a sheltered island paradise, Diana meets an American pilot (Chris Pine) who tells her about the massive conflict that’s raging in the outside world. Convinced that she can stop the threat, Diana leaves her home for the first time. Fighting alongside men in a war to end all wars, she finally discovers her full powers and true destiny.”

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Dunkirk

After a countdown began on the official website earlier this week, Twitter began speculating when to expect a new trailer for Christopher Nolan’s latest film. The speculating didn’t last long, as Monday afternoon a Tweet emerged with a teaser clip announcing the arrival of the trailer today!  Each day this week a similar Tweet has been sent from the Dunkirk account which said ‘Time is running out’ and ended with #400000Men, #933Ships, #26Miles, and #9Days. Then this afternoon the brand new trailer was released online in all it’s glory. There’s just something about the ‘Dunkirk’ trailers so far that I just really admire and just makes me even more excited to see it. They never just focus on one character in particular, giving me a feeling that this film will have a number of individuals it may focus on in particular, amongst lots of scenes with lots of soldiers involved. 

“In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.”

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The Dark Tower

The highly sought after trailer for ‘The Dark Tower’ finally hit the web this week, and despite fans excitement and anticipation for it, it was met with some scepticism. Fans of the Stephen King novels thought that the tone and style of the film were different to what they had expected, but most were excited nonetheless.  Having not read the books (I know I know, they’re on my list!), I think the trailer looks pretty good, and I’m excited to see an Elba vs McConaughey showdown. 

“The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter O’Dim, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black.”

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King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Guy Ritchie’s latest film is almost here and the final trailer was release his week, 2 weeks before the films hits the cinemas in the UK. Whilst there’s not much new footage amongst these TV spots, I think they do a really good job of sustaining peoples interest in seeing the film. There’s been quite a mixed reaction from those lucky enough to have already seen this at preview screenings, with numerous people saying they were slightly disappointing with it, and other praising Ritchie’s efforts.

“When young Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down, and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy whether he likes it or not.”

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It Comes at Night

‘It Comes at Night’ looks like another promising film from A24, the studio that brought us the Academy Award winning ‘Best Picture’, ‘Moonlight’, and other fantastic films such as ‘Room’, ‘Ex Machina’, ‘The Witch’, and many more. The trailer focuses on Joel Edgerton’s character and his family, who live in isolation as an unknown threat has forced them to lock themselves away in fear. I thought this trailer was a fantastic first look at the film and looks like it could be another winner from A24. The trailer doesn’t hold back on the tension and some of you may want to avert your eyes at one but in particular… You’ll know which bit I mean when you see it. 

“Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous order a man (Joel Edgerton) has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer, awakening something hidden and monstrous within the man as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul.”

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Bonus: Blade Runner 2049

Now whilst the new trailer hasn’t been released yet, today we were treated with  surprise announcement that one is arriving Monday. What a way to start a week! 

Written by Tom Sheffield

The First Trailer For Stephen King’s IT Has Arrived To Scare You Senseless

The latest addition to this trailer filled week is the highly anticipated ‘IT’ film, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. The last time we saw Pennywise the clown was in the 1990 TV mini-series which featured Tim Curry as the menacing killer clown. This time it’s Bill SkarsgĂĄrd’s turn to fuel your nightmares as he dons the clown makeup and red wig in this new adaptation directed by AndrĂ©s Muschietti.

The cast also features some young familiar and talented actors, including Finn Wolfhard from Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’, Nicholas Hamilton who starred in ‘Captain Fantastic’ last year, and Jaeden Lieberher from ‘Midnight Special’.

I’m not normally the biggest fan of the horror genre, but this trailer is one of my favourites of the week so far (minus Justice League and Spider-Man of course). SkarsgĂĄrd looks genuinely terrifying as Pennywise and the film looks like it’s set out to truly make everyone develop a fear of clowns. 

With this strong trailer giving being our first proper look at this adaption, I think that this film could possibly be the horror film of the year if first impressions are anything to go by. 

What are your thoughts on the trailer? Do you think we needed another adaptation of IT? 


“New Line Cinema’s horror thriller “IT,” directed by AndrĂ©s Muschietti (“Mama”), is based on the hugely popular Stephen King novel of the same name, which has been terrifying readers for decades.

When children begin to disappear in the town of Derry, Maine, a group of young kids are faced with their biggest fears when they square off against an evil clown named Pennywise, whose history of murder and violence dates back for centuries.

“IT” stars Bill SkarsgĂĄrd (“Allegiant,” TV’s “Hemlock Grove”) as the story’s central villain, Pennywise. An ensemble of young actors also star in the film, including Jaeden Lieberher (“Midnight Special”), Jeremy Ray Taylor (“Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip”), Sophia Lillis (“37”), Finn Wolfhard (TV’s “Stranger Things”), Wyatt Oleff (“Guardians of the Galaxy”), Chosen Jacobs (upcoming “Cops and Robbers”), Jack Dylan Grazer (“Tales of Halloween”) and Nicholas Hamilton (“Captain Fantastic”).”

Written by Tom Sheffield

The Dark Tower Adaptation Adds Star Power

We all know Stephen King writes up one hell of a story. And those stories more often than not, become films, and the films are pretty damn good too. I mean, the best film of all time (according to IMDb’s top 250), ‘The Shawshank Redemption’, is an adaptation of a King story, so hopes are high for the latest of his books to get the green light for a film deal – ‘The Dark Tower’.

If the idea of a Stephen King story alone doesn’t get you excited, then how about we throw in Idris Elba AND Matthew McConaughey in the lead roles too? Now we’ve got your attention! The two actors were announced to be joining the project last week, and even started up a little Twitter bromance to celebrate their impending collaboration.

Rumour has it, Aaron Paul is also being eyed for a role in ‘The Dark Tower’; pretty formidable cast building there. Are you excited for this project? What do you think of the casting choices? Let us know your thoughts.

Written by Jakob Lewis Barnes