The Big Release
The Dark Tower
AFTER more than a decade in development hell, Stephen King’s seven-volume Dark Tower series finally hits screens in this first-in-a-franchise adaptation. Judging by its performance at the US box office, it will also be the last.
De-fanged for a 12A audience, it starts as a familiar YA story about a weedy boy called Jake (a rather good Tom Taylor) who discovers he’s The One. Traumatised by his father’s fiery death, scribbling down nightmarish visions and chased through New York by monsters with fake human skin, Jake finds a secret portal to Mid-World, where he is repeatedly attacked by unexplained special effects.
Here he hooks up with ‘The Gunslinger’, aka Roland (Idris Elba), a supernatural western hero with a nifty bullet-reloading technique. He is obsessed with slaying ‘The Man In Black’, aka Walter (Matthew McConaughey dressed like some David Blaine support act), who is himself obsessed with destroying the Dark Tower that apparently sits in the middle of the universe protecting us from demons. Who knew?
There’s a lot to cram in and the movie is so busy multiverse building that it’s cluttered with stuff we don’t understand. The script’s main function seems to be to toss out lines like ‘his shine is pure’ and ‘have a great apocalypse’ like a random soundbite generator. Not so much a stinker of a movie as a bafflingly incomplete one, The Dark Tower has presumably been inflicted with so many cuts it’s like watching a 95-minute trailer. Even fans of the books will be confused by what’s not apparently an adaptation so much as a sequel to the books.
That Elba and McConaughey are terrific casting makes matters all the more disappointing. In a summer that’s already claimed casualties like The Mummy and King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword, Hollywood needs to learn not to count its franchises before they are hatched.
Franchise stall for Stephen King’s sci-fi western epic that leaves viewers feeling cheated
An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power
DONALD TRUMP’s decision to withdraw from the 2016 Paris Climate Agreement signed by 195 countries to reduce carbon emissions may be bad news for the planet but it’s good news for the fortunes of this sequel to 2006 Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
Here, a greyer, rounder former US vice president Al Gore once again sets out to prove that we face serious climate change peril: glaciers are melting in Greenland, waters are rising in Miami and Manhattan. If there’s a resigned air about Gore and his updated slide show a decade on, it’s understandable. The fleeting victory he secures via some fascinating corridors-of-power politicking in Paris 2016 is quickly dashed by a Trump victory he describes a ‘punch in the face’. Yet Gore never gives up hope.
This is essentially a training video, calling viewers to activism with the slogan: ‘If our leaders refuse to lead, our citizens will.’ If we could only plug our grid into Gore, we’d have an inexhaustible supply of renewable energy.
BASED on a true story, Final Portrait tells how, while on a short trip to Paris in 1964, handsome, gay US art-lover James Lord (Armie Hammer) is asked to sit for a portrait by grumpy Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti (a sweary Geoffrey Rush, as marvellous as you’d expect). He is told it will only take a few days. It stretches out for weeks. As Giacometti endlessly reworks his painting, the two men become locked in an agonising creative duel that tests the viewer’s patience as much as theirs.
Actor-turned-director Stanley Tucci’s fifth movie is like an engagingly acted episode stretched into a feature. Hammer’s character remains a spare wheel to the central conflict: that of the artist and his own self-destructive genius.
It’s an amusing comedy and, given the blockbuster Giacometti exhibition now on at Tate Modern in London, Final Portrait is certainly a timely release.