Laurie Chambers (Katheryn Winnick) is understandably worried about her 11-year-old son’s recurring nightmares. In them, her son Jake (Tom Taylor) is becoming convinced that the demise of Earth is imminent.
So, she takes him to a psychiatrist who diagnoses Jake’s visions as delusional and has him committed to a mental health facility. However, Jake really is psychic, and he is accurately forecasting the impending extinction of life on Earth.
The planet’s only hope of averting this apocalypse rests on the shoulders, or more precisely, on the trigger fingers of Roland Deschain (Idris Elba). He’s the last in a long line of gunslingers from another dimension who have been locked in mortal conflict with forces that are led by Randall Flagg (Matthew McConaughey), an evil sorcerer who is on a quest for infinite power. World domination by him is attainable if Randall can reach the Dark Tower, the nexus between time and space that is located in a parallel universe called End-World.
Soon the mysterious figures in Jake’s dreams begin to materialize on the streets of Manhattan. After Randall’s minions murder Jake’s mother, the boy is rescued by Roland. The two escape through a portal to Mid-World where the epic battle to preserve life on Earth unfolds.
That is the point of departure of The Dark Tower, an adaptation of Stephen King’s magnum opus of the same name. The science fiction series was inspired by “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” a poem written by Robert Browning in 1855. King also cites Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Clint Eastwood’s spaghetti westerns, and the legend of King Arthur as major influences.
The Dark Tower took a circuitous route to becoming a movie. The story was originally optioned by J.J. Abrams in 2007. Ron Howard subsequently acquired the rights in 2010. However, the picture was ultimately written and directed by Nikolaj Arcel, whose A Royal Affair was nominated in 2013 for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category.
This movie is Mr. Arcel’s first English language film, which is why he received help with the screenplay from three scriptwriters that includes Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind). The final production is engaging enough to establish the franchise and leave you anticipating a sequel.
Very Good (***). Rated PG-13 for action, gun violence, and mature themes.
Running time: 95 minutes. Production Studio: Sony/Media Rights Capital/Imagine Entertainment/Weed Road. Distributor: Sony Pictures.