The first reviews for ‘The Dark Tower’ are in and they’re savage

Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey star in the new movie from director Nikolaj Arcel

The first reviews for The Dark Tower have been published and they are almost uniformly negative.

The science fiction western film is based on Stephen King’s novel series of the same name. In it, 11-year-old Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) finds clues about a dimension called Mid-World. There, he meets “The Gunslinger” Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) who is on a mission to get to the Dark Tower and save the real world from extinction. The Man In Black, Walter O’Dim (Matthew McConaughey), has other ideas, however.

At the time of writing, the film has a score of 21 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregator site.

Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers calls the film a “major misfire” and begins his one-star review writing: “So much is so wrong about The Dark Tower.” He continues to accuse director Nikolaj Arcel of wasting the two leads in Elba and McConaughey, and concludes: “This unholy mess shouldn’t happen to a king, let alone a paying customer.”

Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman is more favourable, saying The Dark Tower is “a competent and watchable paranoid metaphysical video game that doesn’t overstay its welcome”. The Verge‘s Tasha Robinson describes the movie as simplifying the story in the books to the point that “in places it seems outright generic.” She adds it is “a clumsy, halfhearted setup for a sprawling television and film franchise.”

Mike Ryan’s Uproxx review asks “what the hell happened?” “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,” he writes.

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 THISis what you come up with?”

The Hollywood Reporter‘s John DeFore isn’t as convinced the movie is a complete disaster, however. He calls it “far from the muddled train wreck we’ve come to expect”, but has his own criticisms, including it “lack[ing] the world-constructing gravitas of either the Tolkien books that inspired King or the franchise-launching movies that Sony execs surely have in mind.” He adds: “In their effort to introduce newcomers to this world, the filmmakers make the saga’s contents look not archetypal but generic and cobbled together.”

The Dark Tower will arrive in cinemas in the US tomorrow (August 4), but won’t be released in the UK until August 18.