Movies

Movie review: 'The Dark Tower'

Stephen King's epic series of sci-fi novels is given less than stellar treatment

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There’s Stephen King, and then there’s Stephen King. But, if you were hoping for an adaptation of one of Steverino’s most epic works, this isn’t it.

As a stand-alone picture — let’s say you’ve never heard of The Gunslinger or “The Walkin’ Dude” or even Pennywise — this movie might, on some level, be satisfying. But, even then, you’d wonder why the movie seems so short, so simple, why fanboys have been drooling over the idea of it finally being done. But, like the seven-year promise of a health care repeal, it turns out to be nothing more than smoke and mirrors.

For no particular reason, the movie deletes so much Stephen Kingness in favor of a standard PG-13 adolescent boy’s quest that we’re left with the cinematic equivalent of a plastic shopping bag. It will still hold the stuff you bought, but you feel slightly guilty walking out with it, and as soon as you’re done off-loading your purchases, it gets fluffed into the bottom of a waste basket. Sure, there are all the “Easter eggs” gooping up the internet, desperate to compile all the references to King’s books great and not so great in this movie, but the real Stephen King — the writer who actually goes where the horror takes him no matter the delicate sensibilities of the reader — is given the heave-ho.

I’m not really all that peeved. Most of the film adaptations of his work have been pretty bad, due to the fact that producers are chicken to go where King leads. The paychecks are still paychecks, one must assume. Besides, the dude is a writer and all that other stuff is just noise between stations on an old-school radio.

The movie centers on a strange black spire “located in the fey region of End-World, amid a sea of singing red roses, the Dark Tower is the nexus point of the time-space continuum,” according to the author. In the story, there are parallel worlds, one of which is ours, where a kid named Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) lives with his folks in New York City. Jake is obsessed with drawing the things he sees in his dreams, but the stuff he draws is disturbing to his dad and mom (Karl Thaning and Katheryn Winnick). Of course, the drawings depict a world that is dark, violent and dangerous and every bit as real as his own. He just doesn’t know it yet.

See, Jake is gifted. He has ‘the shine.” But, when this gift is detected by the Walter O’Dim, aka the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), in that other dimension, he poses the key to the evil one’s plan to destroy the Dark Tower. In the meantime, Roland Deschain, aka The Gunslinger (Idris Elba), roams the desolation of another dimension, searching for the tower and his ultimate confrontation with Walter. When Jake discovers that a place he dreamed exists for real in his city, he goes there and finds a portal to another dimension.

After that, the forces of good and evil surround his every move and even threaten the relative sanctity of his home in NYC.

The movie could have been remarkable, maybe even epic in scale if a faithful adaptation might have been attempted, but, alas, somewhere along the way, that might still happen, even for those who consider themselves to be King’s “number one fan.”

“The Dark Tower” is rated PG-13 for thematic material, including sequences of gun violence and action.

It is screening daily at Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

The following information was compiled from press materials.

Santoalla

MPAA rating: Not rated

Movies at the TCA

In this documentary by Andrew Becker and Daniel Mehrer, we learn about a progressive Dutch couple, named Martin Verfondern and Margo Pool, who had only one dream: to live off the land, far from the constraints and complications of the city.

But, when they arrive in the crumbling Spanish village of Santoalla, the foreigners challenge the traditions of the town’s sole remaining family, igniting a decadelong conflict that culminates in Martin’s mysterious disappearance.

As this once-forgotten landscape is thrust into the center of controversy, Margo finds herself searching not only for answers, but for the strength to persevere.

“Unfolding in a chronologically shifting collage of interviews, imagery of the ruined village and its environs, and found footage — much of it shot by Martin himself over the years — the film is far from the most formally daring documentary of the year. But the undemonstrative classicism of the approach feels appropriate to a tale of bad blood, mistrust of outsiders, land and greed that is nearly as old as the hills in which it takes place,” writes Jessica Kiang in the July 24 edition of Variety.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 13) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (Aug. 14-16).

Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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