I am far from a completist when it comes to Stephen King in general or his eight-book “Dark Tower” series in particular, but the hour-and-a-half movie that Danish director Nikolaj Arcel has carved out of them, with sequels in the offing, resembles nothing so much as a mashup of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Matrix” reimagined for the young adult crowd.
The best parts of the movie are its opening sequences – never a good sign. New York youngster Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), whose firefighter father has recently died, is beset with disturbing dreams in which he envisions a doomy Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) and an equally forbidding gunslinger (Idris Elba), who also favors dark duds. (He’s the good guy.) Everybody on Earth, or Keystone Earth as it’s called here, regards Jake as bonkers, but he (and we) know otherwise. He ends up passing through portals into multiverses where he becomes a participant in his own terrorscapes.
The direction is fairly formulaic, the special effects are nothing special, and except for Elba and McConaughey, who square off against each other in a series of ho-hum set pieces, the cast is forgettable. So is the movie. Grade: C (Rated PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.)