The Dark Tower's first critical reviews are in with only hours to go before it opens in US cinemas on Friday (4 August).
Stephen King's beloved book series was for many decades considered unfilmable because it's incredibly dense, as directors JJ Abrams and Ron Howard both found out during their abandoned attempts to turn The Dark Tower into a movie.
Danish filmmaker Nicolaj Arcel is the one who finally filmed the unfilmable as part of a expansive plan to follow The Dark Tower with sequels and a prequel TV series — but was it all for naught?
Well, initial reaction is not very promising, suggesting the movie ultimately falls short in emotional impact and being faithful to the complexity of King's original series. Check out some of the critics' reviews below...
"The Dark Tower has been plagued by tales of last-minute re-editing and multiple cooks in the kitchen, but the movie that's come out of all this is no shambles. It aims low and hits (sort of). It's a competent and watchable paranoid metaphysical video game that doesn't overstay its welcome, includes some luridly entertaining visual effects, and — it has to be said — summons an emotional impact of close to zero. Which in a film like this one isn't necessarily a disadvantage."
"Though far from the muddled train wreck we've been led to expect, this Tower lacks the world-constructing gravitas of either the Tolkien books that inspired King or the franchise-launching movies that Sony execs surely have in mind. Though satisfying enough to please many casual moviegoers drawn in by King's name and stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, it will likely disappoint many serious fans and leave other newbies underwhelmed."
"There's a fair amount of pre-conceived buzz going around pertaining to The Dark Tower, due to the supposedly troubled production cycle and significant history of stalled attempts in the project's past, and it's kind of unfair. While The Dark Tower may leave a little more to be desired, it's a pretty strong start to a promising series. Most importantly, it's a visual spectacle of action and fantasy that leaves the audience wanting more, while delivering one of the last thrills in store for this summer's box office season."
"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. The Dark Tower has been in production for around ten years in some form or another. This final product reminds me a lot of the GOP healthcare plan: You've had all this time and THIS is what you come up with? I can already picture John McCain strolling into a theater this weekend, giving a dramatic thumbs down, killing The Dark Tower forever."
"The film begins with a title card explaining that a dark tower stands at the center of the universe, or something along those lines, and that the mind of a child could bring it down... 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."
"There's no half-assing a fantasy epic. Either you want to draw people into a big, strange new world or you want to keep them grounded in ours. Either you want to transport the audience into a land of magic, unique cultures, and curious histories, or you want to stay Earthbound... Despite strong performances from leads Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, The Dark Tower is too meager to feel grandiose, and too haphazard to feel grounded."
"The Dark Tower is a thoroughly average take on some truly incredible source material. While the fantastic leads do the best with what they're given, it's ultimately not enough to compensate for a lack of time spent building characters and their motivations in the script. A good-looking shell of an great epic is all here, but peeling back the veneer reveals that there's not a whole lot going on underneath. For a story where the literal fate of the universe is at stake, it's disappointingly easy to not really care about anything that's happening on screen."
"While sitting through this uniquely flavourless slog, a viewer jolts out of a waking sleep every five minutes or so to realise that they have not internalised 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."
The Dark Tower opens on 18 August in the UK. Watch a trailer below: