‘The Dark Tower’ Reviews: What the Critics Are Saying

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Reviews for “The Dark Tower” were unleashed on the world late Wednesday night and, in general, the critics were not pleased.

The adaptation of what is considered by many to be Stephen King’s magnum opus made it to the big screen after a production process plagued with creative differences, test screenings gone awry, and reshoots. But, nevertheless, it will arrive in theaters this weekend.

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel, the movie stars Idris Elba as a heroic gunslinger, Matthew McConaughey as the villainous Man in Black, and Tom Taylor as a young boy caught in the middle of a potentially world-ending battle.


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Film Review: ‘The Dark Tower’

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman penned one of the kinder reviews of the movie, calling it a “a slice of lean-and-mean metaphysical action pulp.” Other critics were not so enthusiastic, earning the flick a current 16% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Here’s what the critics are saying:

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman:

“A few of the concepts drifting through the film suggest how far ahead of the curve King was, a few play as flagrantly derivative, but when you watch ‘The Dark Tower’ you may not bother to separate the Kingian from the Jungian from the ready-made-for-DVR-ian. It all fuses into a glittering trash pile of déjà vu action pulp.”

IndieWire’s Kate Erbland:

“King’s Dark Tower universe is rich with cultural reference points and is always totally unpredictable, but in cutting it down to consolidate its highlights, ‘The Dark Tower’ can’t even shoot the most necessary bullets straight.”


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‘The Dark Tower’: Clashing Visions, Brutal Test Screenings Plagued Journey to Big Screen

The Guardian’s Charles Bramesco:

“While sitting through this uniquely flavorless slog, a viewer jolts out of a waking sleep every five minutes or so to realize that they have not internalized a thing. Nikolaj Arcel’s efforts to translate and condense Stephen King’s long-running series of densely mythologized novels amount to being a western without the majesty of the west, a fantasy without anything even coming close to being fantastic.”

Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips:

“Apologies to Stephen King, author of the eight fantasy novels in the ‘Dark Tower’ realm, but you can shove that ‘Mummy’ right through the portal to Mid-World, where all the villainously bad movies go. “The Dark Tower” isn’t one of them. It belongs in Middling-World.”

Entertainment Weekly’s Darren Franich:

“[Idris Elba’s] performance stands out. The movie around him is sadly pointless, weirdly forgettable despite a slipstream story mashing fantasy and science-fiction and Brooklyn.”

Uproxx’s Mike Ryan:

“‘The Dark Tower’ is so astoundingly awful that when you leave the theater you’ll likely be less mad you wasted your time than flabbergasted that something like this could a) happen and b) be released as something that, theoretically, is going to launch a multi-platform franchise.”

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  1. Giles Gillett says:

    An absolute train wreck of a movie! I am a die hard Dark Tower fan and this is an absolute shambles of movie making and a crime against adaptations. Columbia pictures should be ashamed and derided for taking an absolute master piece of story telling by Stephen King and absolutely destroying it. It was awful from start to finish, a total mess of a movie, all over the place and doesn’t even follow the original manuscript at all, total garbage, a disgrace this is allowed to happen, made for money only. Should not be allowed to be released on DVD out of principle. The pure basics of the story were left out, the path of the beam was left out, the main characters were left out, Eddie, Odetta, Oy, Gnasher, Blane the Mono, Rolands first encounter with Jake is wrong, Walters place of child torture to bring down the tower is wrong, Rolands Gun is wrong, Roland is wrong, It’s all wrong. Even if I try and forget this was allegedly based on the books and take it is a stand alone original movie, it’s still garbage. 1/10 Maximum rating.

  2. Carlos says:

    Your all idiots the movies are never the same as the book

    • Mark Cecil says:

      I was prepared for the movie to not be the same as the “book.” The sheer amount of material is just not even remotely approachable in a 90 minute timeframe.

      What I wasn’t prepared for is the complete focus shift to pursuit and direct defeat of the Man in Black versus a quest for the Tower and defeat of the Crimson King (who is only mentioned obliquely in a pair of grafitti). Also disturbing is the complete removal of even the most basic concepts that underpin the entire Dark Tower universe. (And indeed, by association, the entire King universe, since the Dark Tower is hooked into virtually every significant King storyline, eventually.)

      Finally, if you’re going to call us idiots, please use the appropriate “You’re.”

  3. Juanita Moore says:

    I’m 1 of those people who prefers to see a movie, before reading the book. That way, I have no preconceived ideas of what characters look like, or points I felt pivotal.

    Personally, I’m looking forward to seeing the movie, on the big screen. The actors are outstanding. Plus, story written by Steven King…doesn’t get any better. If I enjoy it, THEN I’ll read the book, with pleasure.

    Movies never live up to the books. When reading before seeing movie, it’s usually disappointing.

  4. Tom DeMoore says:

    Ugh… I was so looking forward to seeing this but now I have ZERO interest in spending money on Hollywood PC drivel. I’ll stay with the way I imagined thecharacters in the books, thanks.

    Damn you, Hollywood!

  5. Fnticked says:

    I bought advance tickets for this movie. Started reading the series as a young teenager, and had alot of emotional investment in this story. Roland feels like an old friend at this point. I was giddy as a schoolgirl over this movie being made.
    That said, the the day I went to see this movie I got into a huge fight with my wife. Lasted all day. Aaaaand that turned out to not be the worst part of my day.
    Everyone involved in making this movie has forgotten the faces of their fathers. How in the hell did hollywood screw it up this bad. I mean its bad. The man in black…. With no laughing? The laughing man, the hardcase…. Not.
    Mathew M should have been great in that role…I’m sure he did the best he could with the script or whatever…. But was anyone else looking forward to seeing him laughing like a lunatic, causing mayhem, like in the books??
    This whole movie was a travesty. Hollywood, you suck and I hate you. This movie was like watching old friends get thrown in a hole and get dumped on.
    How? How? The actors were good…..could have been used sooo much better though.
    I may literally never spend money on another movie ever again.
    I feel like the people that made this movie just didnt give a shit about it at all. Just rushed through it. Like they just decided it was too hard to do and just threw out some crap to all us fans of the series. And here I thought the two lead actors were perfect for the roles. And they probably are. Except the people making the movie suck. So so hard.
    If stephen king endorses this garbage he has also forgotten the face of his father.
    I’m so mad…sad….let down….
    The bottom line is I feel insulted that hollywood would dare to even present this garbage to the public. The tower has fallen….

    • Tom DeMoore says:

      You nailed it. And THIS is exactly why my family–and most of America, apparently–is staying away from movie theatres. I really have zero interest in spending any money on anything that comes out of Hollywood.

  6. dregj says:

    the producer insulted fans of the book with bad language and accusations of racism
    for daring to suggest it was a terrible idea to swap the main character’s race.
    millions of dark tower fans remembered that and stayed away.
    So very glad this movie failed

  7. Shawna "Fattie" Waldron says:

    movie sucks

  8. gloria montgomery says:

    I have read the books and I loved the movie. I will also go see it again.

  9. kivenab says:

    (1) The Stephen Kings book “ The gunslinger” is about family’s loyalty that surpass one’s race and cultural background. These character, one who is one black and another Irish/ Italian. the gunslinger roland deschain is a white gunslinger who is from a devastated apocalyptic future of earth is the last of his kind. All different. All have their own history and hardships unit by their love and trust of one another. roland past down the culture of love and respect the 2 New Yorker to help hunt down and to stop the man in black. This is the take away from the Gunslinger series. NOT THIS HATRED FOR A BLACK ACTOR WHO PLAYS ROLAND! the main character roland deschain spirit lives in this actor. ANYONE WHO READ THE SERIES COULD HAVE TOLD YOU THAT!!!

    • Catherine E Wieckert says:

      THANK YOU!!! All these reviews from people who haven’t even read the books have me furious. And fans who go in thinking it’s an adaptation will be disappointed. The movie is called the Dark Tower not The Gunslinger. It picks up from where the last one left off. I can’t wait to see this film. I will be going into it like it’s a continuation.

      • Dustin Brown says:

        I call BS, I haven’t seen it, but I have read the series at least 6 times and the ‘rewrite’ of the character cast is atrocious. I have nothing against black actors taking roles that may have been white, even in Stephen’s books Shawshank is a great example (Dude is white, but I will never read that again without having Morgan in my head and am absolutely cool with it because it didn’t matter to that story). This is a travesty because the relationships drawn (pun not intended) RELY on the racial disparity between Roland, Odetta/Susanna, and eventually Eddie. This is massively central to the Ka-Tet.

        I can’t even concede to the racial difference with Roland as “another run through’ as it was established in the Gunslinger that he had done this many times before by Walter in their palaver at the boneyard …Why? Roland is who he is, descendant of Arthur of Eld (Kinda an English Royal dude, sorry certainly not black) Not to mention Stephen himself characterized him as a blend of Clint Eastwood and Himself!. Why would he shift race? Why not Chinese or Inuit or some racial roulette wheel every time around? Because the Hollywood machine is trying to garner a factor back into the failing theater industry by pandering the race/gender card by casting either wrong race or gender in a familiar and well seated role in fans that have wandered away from their box office.

        Want a black hero in The Dark Tower? Had one … Susanna! Kinda built right in wouldn’t you say?

        I watch it when it is free (from the sound of the reviews so far, that shouldn’t take long). In the mean time I say from what I’ve seen and heard, shame on all who placed their hands on this (even you Stephen). Why, Why, Why would you bend this so far out of true? $$$? Not looking like it now is it? Shoulda tried extra hard to Kepp Ron Howard on the project and cast Viggo Mortensen as Roland…

        Love this series and a massive SK fan (own everything he’s written) and I have had nothing but contempt for every moe that has been made since real production began.

      • Bryan says:

        Catherine, I approached the movie the same way. I left feeling betrayed.

        The casting was perfect; the execution of the story, on the other hand…this movie has forgotten the face of its father.

  10. Mr. Otoole says:

    Ha. Compress 8 long books into a couple hours of video, then hack up the very story everybody enjoyed and this is what you get. Fantastic waste of money and effort, great work.

    • Steve says:

      The screen writer has forgotten the face of his father. I loved the books, and patiently waited for each to arrive. The story was an episodic journey. In watching the movie, I kept waiting for the boy to show up on the beach for the beginning of his journey, but it never happened. Just a lot of invented back story. Perhaps a decent movie, but as a fan of the books I felt betrayed.

    • David says:

      I have read the books several times and I saw this movie did them no justice. I hate to think of how many people are going to be turned off by this steaming pile of crap. it pissed all over the character identity. it said to hell with the story content, and it shat right in the face of the fans. I implore anyone reading do not let this worm infested turd issued from the infected bowels of Hollywood turn you away from the books. the books are great. packed with adventure, drama, suspense, love, hate, friendship, and so much more, but do yourself a favor and skip this Billy the kid vs. the moon men epic failure

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