LA,August4:“The Dark Tower.” Inspired, in only the most generous sense of the word, by King’s violent, eight-volume, supernatural-western fantasy series, the film by Nikolaj Arcel (“A Royal Affair”) is a watered-down, kids’-movie version of King-ly horror.
Walter’s brooding nemesis, the equally fashion-forward Roland Deschain, a.k.a. the Gunslinger (Idris Elba), isn’t even the movie’s true hero, although he has been stalking Walter, pistols blazing, since time immemorial. (Roland’s guns are said to have been forged from the steel of King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur, but that doesn’t make their bullets lethal to Walter, who catches them in his hand, like flyballs.)
In a sop to its apparent target audience, the main protagonist of “The Dark Tower” is a troubled tween named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor), who seems to have accidentally wandered into this movie from the set of a young-adult drama about alienation.
As the movie opens, Jake has been having vivid nightmares in which he sees Roland do battle with Walter.
As illustrated in the film’s dreamlike prologue, Walter has been kidnapping children and hooking them up to a high-tech contraption that harnesses their psychic energy to create a laserlike beam that he uses to chip away at the titular Dark Tower, a mysterious, linchpin-like skyscraper that somehow holds together the film’s various multiverses.
Jake lives in modern-day New York — or, rather, in the movie’s rendering, on Keystone Earth — while Roland and Walter inhabit a wasteland known as Mid-World, which seems to contain both medieval villages and Walter’s high-tech lair, staffed by laughably sycophantic, bumbling minions out of a live-action version of “Despicable Me.”