So Valerian tanked. A creative ambition a lifetime in the making, with literally hundreds of minds working together to bring it to the big screen, and the verdict? Audiences were not impressed. It’s not just due to overproduction, or the film industry’s difficult history of translating books to film that is the problem. It just lost the plot –literally, with many of the basic elements that make a good story totally discarded. Obtaining actors who can actually act might have been a better start for Besson.
With this in mind, there is something to be said for young actor Tom Taylor who plays Jake Chambers in the 2017 adaptation of The Dark Tower. You have to ask yourself how this newbie is able to out-act every cast member. Taylor puts a solid effort into the role about a boy plagued by dreams of a Man in Black and his dark agenda that involves the torturing of children. Soon he is to learn that these occurrences are real and are happening in another parallel place known as Mid World. A seer tells him that the reason he has these visions is because he has a ‘shine that’s pure’ – a rare psychic ability of great strength (yes, shades of The Shining here, to be sure).
When the young man travels in a portal on Keystone Earth to this other world, he encounters Roland Deschain: the last surviving member of a generation of Gunslingers. These warriors have helped protect the Dark Tower which stands at the centre where all universes converge. It’s presence acts as a seal, or gate, which prevents evil that exists outside the universe from entering. The scary truth is revealed at the beginning of the film. This tower can be destroyed by the mind of a child. This revelation shows just how fragile reality is and sets an interesting premise of the entire Dark Tower world: the fight against the dark forces will never be over, it only can be deterred by the vigilant watch of the few protectors brave enough to stand against their hate. This is a role Idris Elba fully embraces and feels similar to his Moreau character in Ghostrider: The Spirit of Vengeance, only workshopped better. The most satisfying part of the film is watching Roland unleash his dead shot skill with his dual revolvers when up against a large group of men.
The Dark Tower series, considered by Stephen King to be his Magnum Opus, continues to show the power of his themes and writing and ability to dazzle readers and audiences alike what with many classic works being made into celebrated films including the aforementioned The Shining, Misery, and the upcoming rework of It.
The Dark Tower also enters the ever-expanding multi-story ‘cinemaverses’ as a decent action film that entertains, if given the chance, much like the reboot of The Mummy, starring Tom Cruise, which took the franchise in a different direction but was good enough to stand on its own legs. J.K.A. Short
‘The Dark Tower’ is in cinemas now.