THE DARK TOWER — Review by Susan Granger

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If you read Stephen King’s sprawling eight-novel saga, which reportedly took more than 30 years to assemble, you may understand what’s happening on-screen. If not, it’s an epic hit-or-miss proposition. The story begins in earthquake-plagued Manhattan, where teenage Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is suffering horrific nightmares following the death of his fire-fighter father. When his mother (Katheryn Winnick) sends him to an asylum for psychiatric evaluation, he escapes, literally running for his life. Continue reading…

Apparently, Jake has vaguely defined but formidable psychic powers. He feels compelled to document his terrifying, apocalyptic visions in spooky sketches which include a mysterious Man in Black and an impassive hero known as the Gunslinger.

Finding his way to an abandoned house in Brooklyn, Jake stumbles through a portal into a surreal dimension known as Mid-World, where he not only encounters the trench coat-wearing Gunslinger (Idris Elba) but also the demonic Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey).

“His Shine is pure,” marvels the Man in Black. “His Shine is beyond anything I’ve ever seen,” concurs his cohort. Which means Jake’s brain contains the power to topple The Dark Tower, a spire that protects not only our planet, called Keystone Earth, but also other parallel worlds within our galaxy.

Meanwhile, the righteous Gunslinger keeps repeating a mantra: “I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart.”

Assembled as a complex, completely confounding, mythological patchwork by screenwriters Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen and Danish director Nikolaj Arcel (“A Royal Affair”), it’s a choppy, incoherent hodge-podge of surreal chase/action sequences, a visual spectacle that’s confusingly edited by Alan Edward Bell and Dan Zimmerman.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “The Dark Tower” is a forgettable 4. For a sci-fi fantasy, it’s a sullen, superficial slog.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.