Empire (UK) - - ON.SCREEN -

FOR YEARS, STEPHEN King hasn’t been able to write a gro­cery list with­out Hol­ly­wood snaf­fling it up and turn­ing it into a film. Yet The Dark Tower, an eight-vol­ume epic that spans the au­thor’s ca­reer, re­mained stub­bornly out of reach, thought too in­tri­cate, too am­bi­tious to adapt. Un­til, as they say, now. For here comes The Dark Tower, with Dan­ish di­rec­tor Niko­laj Ar­cel at the helm. In­spired by, but not slav­ish to, the first in­stal­ment of the se­ries, The Gun­slinger, it fol­lows Jake Cham­bers (Tom Tay­lor), a New York teen drawn into Mid-world, a dark ver­sion of our Earth. Once there, Jake finds him­self amid a con­flict be­tween gun­slinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) and Matthew Mcconaughey’s Man In Black. The driv­ing force be­hind their en­mity: the epony­mous ed­i­fice that sits at the heart of all ex­is­tence.

The Dark Tower prom­ises to be many things — fan­tasy, West­ern, hor­ror — but Elba has a com­par­i­son that, these days in par­tic­u­lar, is specif­i­cally com­mer­cial. “For me, he’s a su­per­hero,” he says of Roland. “Su­per­heroes need to have char­ac­ter. That was re­ally im­por­tant to me in Roland. He’s a man of few words and few emo­tions.” There’s no doubt Roland has su­per­heroic qual­i­ties (he never misses with his san­dal­wood six shoot­ers, and looks awe­some in a long cloak). And if the film con­nects, and leads to se­quels and mooted in­ter­sti­tial TV se­ries, Roland could soon be giv­ing Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne et al a run for their money.

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