“The Dark Tower” is a new fantasy/science fiction film starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey.
Image from SONY Pictures

Adapted from Stephen King’s eight-book series, “The Dark Tower,” morphs the entire series into one story, which does not necessarily go by the book.

Shifting between New York City and the post apocalyptic Mid-World, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) has haunting visions of a Man in Black that land him in the hands of crooked psychiatric therapists. Since Jake is only an 11-year-old boy, his visions are usually mistaken for night terrors instead of reality. In an effort to prove the psychiatrists and his mother wrong, Jake seeks out the abandoned home featured in all of his visions, which unveils a portal to the middle world where he meets the infamous Man in Black, Walter Padick (Matthew McConaughey), and confirms his own psychic abilities.

As Jake runs from the Man in Black through Mid-World, he meets his savior, the Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba). The Gunslinger is the last of his kind and refuses to let the Man in Black obtain control of the Dark Tower, the structure at the center of the universe that would let all kinds of evil beings wreak havoc. Along with this goal, Roland seeks to slay the Man in Black to avenge the death of his father and save the Mid-World.

Once the Gunslinger takes in Jake to protect him from the Man in Black, who is known for abducting children with psychic powers, the ultimate battle between good and evil unravels. Idris Elba acts as the positive force counteracting the Man in Black’s demonic plan. Elba’s strength and perseverance throughout this role helps highlight the insidious nature that takes over Matthew McConaughey.

Idris Elba, shown here with Tom Taylor, plays the Gunslinger.
Image from SONY Pictures

Although McConaughey taps into the sinister attributes of the Man in Black, in the wake of conflict he could have amped up his performance to make the battle appear even more thrilling. Since McConaughey downplayed crucial high points, Elba tends to overshadow his character, even though the fight was meant to be more even-keeled to create a more intense sense of suspense.

Since Elba flourishes in strong, savior-like roles, he delivered a performance that depicts how well developed Roland is as a character. Roland’s painful flashbacks offer insight, which invites viewers into Roland’s psyche, and allows them to connect with him on an intimate level.

Overall, “The Dark Tower” definitely succeeds when it comes to keeping an audience captivated. The film sometimes strays too far from the source material, and this causes the focus of the action to falter. “The Dark Tower” too often compensates for its original tone with less than impressive shoutouts to King’s work. With that large and difficult task to achieve in mind, fans of the novel are out of luck this time around.