Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba, Tom Taylor, Jackie Earle Haley, Dennis Haysbert, Katheryn Winnick, José Zúñiga
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Medieval maps place Jerusalem at the centre of the earth and India, our India, looms large top right. In the godless universe of this adaptation of Stephen King novels, the Dark Tower stands at the
earth’s centre, protecting the universe from Hell, a Satanic figure called Walter O’Dim aka the Man in Black (Matthew McConnaughey) and his minions who prowl the earth to slay, speak falsehoods,sow discord and abduct psychic children to harness their powers in order to
destroy the titular tower. Co-scripted by Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen, Arcel’s fantasy action reboot of the Master of Horror’s novels mines the idea of inter-dimensional worlds in the cosmic battle between good and evil but desists from presenting an omnipotent Godhead. The nearest to such a deity is the Tower, which much in the manner of
Biblical Deity, guards the universe from the fiery darkness and demons beyond, but is, strangely, impervious to depredations and assault on its very existence. The Tower is defended then (like Michael and the angels in heaven ) by a fighter Roland Deschain the Gunslinger (Idris Elba) who has always challenged Dim’s malevolent agenda and is mercifully, immune to Dim’s assaults on his mind, spirit and body. Interestingly, the Gunslinger traces his ancestry to a Knight of King
Arthur’s Round Table. (The film also alludes to the mystical powers of Arthur’s sword Excalibur in battling evil forces.) The Gunslinger is a reluctant mentor to young Jake (Tom Taylor) Chambers whose terrifying nightmares (which open the film) result in being misunderstood as a “troubled” child in need of “treatment” and preparations are made by his mother and step-father to despatch him to a special facility for such children.
But Jake recognises the operators of the “facility” from his dreams for what they truly are – demons in disguise – and escapes to an abandoned house, which happens to be a portal to Mid-World,a parallel universe where the Gunslinger is in hot pursuit of his nemesis. Sadly, the protagonist’s indomitable spirit is tainted by the desire for vengeance: his adversary has killed each and every one who mattered to him because “death always wins.” As scripted, Dim’s falsehoods contradict the Scriptural assurance of the after-life; but the film follows the epic struggle largely via young Jake who happens to be The One with the strongest “shine”. Young people may get unnerved by the CGI demons. Not so King fans.