Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’: Why 95 Minutes Of Film Doesn’t Represent 4250 Pages Of Genius [Opinion]

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower was originally an eight book series. The series is perhaps the best work of one of the greatest horror writers of all time. Is the movie comparable in quality?

The Dark Tower book series is a shining example of the very best of Stephen King’s genius. Here is a sample quote from IGN. It is the last line of the Gunslinger’s creed.

“You do not kill with your gun. He who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. You kill with your heart.”

The Dark Tower movie had a nearly limitless supply of detail rich source material, written by the master of horror himself, Stephen King. The cast includes some of the finest actors available, including Matthew McConaughey as Walter the Sorcerer, Idris Elba as the Gunslinger Roland, and Tom Taylor as Jake.

The Dark Tower movie has been long awaited by Stephen King fans. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower described other worlds in glorious detail, and there were legends from the various cultures of these worlds. It was a diverse and complex work, even for Stephen King.

Stephen King wrote The Dark Tower over the course of 30 years from 1982 until 2012. Readers waited eagerly for about five years between each new installment of this amazingly imaginative series.

Sadly, The Dark Tower film took a disastrous turn in its conception. While Stephen King’s It, which was a single book once became a miniseries, Stephen King’s novel series, which was 30 years in the making became a single movie.

Stephen King’s series of eight The Dark Tower books have been seriously over condensed. For all those who took the time, reading, and rereading The Dark Tower series by Stephen King, every five years as a new installment came out, seeing The Dark Tower film reduced to 95 minutes, and a budget of only $66 million is beyond sad.

The Dark Tower isn’t dreadful, thanks to the acting skills of Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba, and Tom Taylor. The few times the genius of one of Stephen King’s original ideas actually comes to near completion on the screen, it is kind of great, but overall The Dark Tower simply isn’t enough. As Marty Sliva says in his review for IGN, this film captures none of the magic of The Dark Tower novels.

“But what the film fails to do is capture any of the subtly, lore, and heartbreak that makes the books so remarkable.”

The Dark Tower Matthew McConaughey
The Dark Tower stars Matthew McConaughey [Image by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP Images]

The Dark Tower movie was years in the making and was intended to represent decades of Stephen King’s finest work. Yet, the characters are underdeveloped, the plot is a shell, and all the rich detail is utterly lost.

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower readers might be disappointed according to Angie Han. Mashable’s Angie Han says The Dark Tower movie isn’t for Dark Tower readers because it’s so “lacking in the magic” of Stephen King’s work. It isn’t for “newbies” either because the movie doesn’t explain the mythology.

“It’s clear there’s supposed to be something rich and complicated here. There are allusions to King Arthur and golden days of yore and alternate-timeline dystopian futures. Or something like that, anyway. It’s hard to be sure because this movie keeps tossing off intriguing tidbits and then just… letting them hang there.”

The Dark Tower Idris Elba
The Dark Tower stars Idris Elba as the Gunslinger [Image by Gustavo Caballero'Getty Images]

The Dark Tower, based on Stephen Kings’ Dark Tower book series is a severe disappointment. Perhaps the saddest part is that people really wanted to see this movie. According to Rotten Tomatoes, out of 31,070 users, 98 percent want to see The Dark Tower, but of 16 professional reviewers, 13 say it’s rotten.

The Dark Tower simply tries to cover far too much material too quickly. There is a good reason why Stephen King took 30 years to tell his readers this story. It is deep, complex, and has subtle undertones. To tell the story in an hour and a half is simply impossible. Dan Callahan of The Wrap sums up his review on Rotten Tomatoes.

“The 95-minute culmination of years-long efforts to bring The Dark Tower to the big screen is a complete disaster, a limp, barely coherent shell of a movie.”


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The Dark Tower as written by Stephen King is worth the weeks or months it takes to read all eight books, but the 95-minute film doesn’t do the source material justice at all.

[Featured Image by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images]