Reviews of the sci-fi blockbuster, released in the U.S. Friday, range from scathing to downright obliterating.
The embargo has lifted for reviews on Sony Pictures’ The Dark Tower and the critical consensus can charitably be summed up with one word: meh. The Dark Tower is currently rated a lowly 18 percent on the divisive review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. That’s far below the 51 percent scored by Luc Besson’s ambitious sci-fi thriller Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, one of the summer’s biggest box office misfires.
Directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel, the film stars Idris Elba as Roland Deschain, a gunslinger on a quest to protect the Dark Tower, a mythical structure which supports all realities, and Matthew McConaughey as his nemesis, Walter o’Dim, the “Man in Black”.
While it will be very interesting to see how the film performs at the box office this weekend, it’s clear that The Dark Tower won’t be winning any Academy Awards. Here are what the critics are saying.
IGN – Marty Silva
“The deeply flawed and compellingly tragic characters that King created are one-dimensional in their on-screen adaptations because the motivations that give them that depth are completely lost to the wind. That’s not to say the performances are bad – in fact, I absolutely adore the casting of the leads. […] But there’s no meat on the bone of the script for arguably two of the finest actors of our time to really dig in and give us something we haven’t seen before.”
Birth Movies Death – Scott Wampler
“The Dark Tower is a deeply flawed movie. It’s a film that feels rushed and plodding, sometimes within the same scene. It’s a film that saddles two of our greatest working actors with clunky dialogue and muddled motivations. It’s a film that feels claustrophobic and oddly contained when it should’ve felt sweeping and epic. After decades of waiting, after months of keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best, it brings me zero pleasure to report that The Dark Tower doesn’t really work.
Indie Wire – Kate Erbland
“Fans of King’s books will likely be disappointed by the way this long-awaited film adaptation speeds through essential plot points and frantically introduces characters with little in the way of rhythm or care, all in service of a rushed finale that will leave plenty scratching their heads. A tight story is one thing, but a 95-minute feature that is unable to give even the slightest inkling that it’s based on a grand-scale epic masterpiece is something else entirely. The whole universe is at stake here, but “The Dark Tower” wastes precious little time before it delivers any big moments, mostly care of listless action sequences that barely get moving before they’re cut short.”
The Wrap – Dan Callahan
“Most of the scenes in “The Dark Tower” feel like a desperate compromise of some kind, and often there seem to be scenes missing that would simply get us from one point to another. With fantasy material like this, we need to be made to believe in the inventions and the conceits, and we cannot do that if they are shot and staged in such a truncated and perfunctory way.”
THR – John DeFore
“Though far from the muddled train wreck we’ve been led to expect, this Tower lacks the world-constructing gravitas of either the Tolkien books that inspired King or the franchise-launching movies that Sony execs surely have in mind. Though satisfying enough to please many casual moviegoers drawn in by King’s name and stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, it will likely disappoint many serious fans and leave other newbies underwhelmed.”
Collider – Matt Goldberg
“The Dark Tower doesn’t even really do us the courtesy of being laughably bad. That would take some level of ambition, which the movie studiously avoids at almost every turn. Instead, it simply exists, eager to be overlooked and forgotten. It’s a shame that this adaptation didn’t have the funding or the vision to be something remarkable because you can see glimmers of a more ambitious, exciting movie. Sadly, Arcel approaches the story with a flat, uninteresting style, never daring to challenge his audience, invest in his characters, or give us a reason to care. The Dark Tower doesn’t fall because of a child’s mind. It falls because it’s too embarrassed to stand.”