The Dark Tower
Rated PG-13 for action, gun violence and mature themes
Gunslinger Defends Planet From Extinction In Adaptation Of Stephen King’s Sci-Fi Epic
Laurie Chambers (Katheryn Winnick) is understandably worried about her 11-year-old son’s recurrent nightmares. After all, Jake’s (Tom Taylor) becoming increasingly convinced of Earth’s imminent demise.
So, she takes him to a shrink who misdiagnoses the visions as delusional and has the kid committed to a mental health facility. Truth be told, Jake is indeed psychic and has accurately forecast an impending extinction level event.
The planet’s only hope of averting an apocalypse rests on the shoulders or, more precisely, on the trigger fingers of Roland Deschain (played by Idris Elba with that trademark gravitas). He’s the last in a long line of gunslingers from another dimension who’ve been locked in mortal conflict with forces led by Walter Padick (capably played by the terminally-suave Matthew McConaughey), an evil sorcerer on a quest for infinite power. World domination is attainable should he reach the Dark Tower, the nexus between time and space located in a parallel universe called End-World.
It’s not long before these mysterious figures from Jake’s dream begin to materialize on the streets of Manhattan. After Walter’s minions murder his mom, the boy is rescued by Roland. The two soon escape through a portal to Mid-World where the epic battle to preserve life as we know it is set to unfold.
That is the engaging point of departure of The Dark Tower, an ambitious adaptation of Stephen King’s magnum opus of the same name. The sci-fi series was inspired by “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” a poem written by Robert Browning back in 1855. King also credits Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, Clint Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns, and the Legend of King Arthur as major influences.
The Dark Tower took a rather circuitous route to the big screen. The story was originally optioned by J.J. Abrams in 2007. Ron Howard subsequently acquired the rights in 2010. However, the picture was ultimately written and directed by Nikolaj Arcel, whose A Royal Affair was nominated in 2013 for an Oscar in the Best Foreign Film category.
This movie marks the great Dane’s first foray into English, which helps explain why he sought help with the screenplay from a trio of scriptwriters, including Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (for A Beautiful Mind). The final production’s pretty skittish, yet engaging enough to establish the franchise and leave you eagerly anticipating a sequel.
The best sci-fi Western since Cowboys & Aliens!
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 95 minutes
Rated R for violence, profanity and scenes of peril
It’s Halle Berry Vs. Hillbillies In High-Octane Chase Thriller
Karla (Halle Berry) is a stressed-out single mom waitressing in a diner when she’d rather be spending more quality time with her young son, Frankie (Sage Correa). In fact, today, he’s patiently waiting right there in the restaurant for her overtime shift to end.
After she finally gets off, the two drive to an amusement park for what promises to be a fun-filled afternoon. Trouble is, she’s in the midst of bitter custody battle over Frankie with her vindictive ex-husband (Jason George). That explains why she wanders a few feet away for a little privacy when she gets a call from her divorce attorney.
Unfortunately, it’s enough of a distraction to afford a lurking kidnapper (Chris McGinn) an opportunity to pounce. Next thing you know, Margo’s dragging the kid to a waiting getaway car with her husband Terry (Lew Temple) at the wheel.
Karla frantically rushes into the parking lot where she drops her cell phone before spotting a suspicious Mustang GT with tinted windows and no license plates peel rubber. At that point, her maternal instincts kick in, and she decides to pursue the perps despite the fact that she’s driving a relatively-sluggish, Chrysler Town & Country.
What ensues is an extended chase scene that lasts the rests of the movie. So unfolds Kidnap, a low-budget variation of Baby Driver directed by Luis Prieto (Pusher). Although the plot arrives riddled with comical holes big enough for Karla to drive her minivan through, the picture nevertheless proves pretty compelling thanks to a combination of heart-pounding action and the protagonists convincing embodiment of pure desperation.
It’s Halle vs. hillbillies in a high-octane showdown where there’s never a doubt about whether “Mommy Driver” will prevail.
Very Good (3 stars)
Running time: 95 minutes
OPENING THIS WEEK
For movies opening August 11, 2017
Annabelle: Creation (R for horror violence) Tale of demonic possession about a dollmaker (Anthony LaPaglia) and his wife (Miranda Otto) who open their home to a nun (Stephanie Sigman) and several orphans only to have them terrorized by one of his creations (Samara Lee). With Talitha Bateman, Lulu Wilson and Kerry O’Malley.
The Glass Castle (PG-13 for profanity, smoking and mature themes) Brie Larson stars in this adaptation of Jeanette Walls’ best-selling memoir of the same name recounting being raised in a dysfunctional family by an artist (Naomi Watts) and an alcoholic (Woody Harrelson). Cast includes Sarah Snook, Josh Caras and Max Greenfield.
The Nut Job 3: Nutty by Nature (PG for action and rude humor) Animated sequel finds Surly the squirrel (Will Arnett) and his sidekick Buddy (Tom Kenny) joining forces with other animals in order to prevent their crooked mayor (Bobby Moynihan) from paving the park to put up an amusement park. Voice cast includes Maya Rudolph, Jackie Chan, Katherine Heigl and Jeff Dunham.
Good Time (R for violence, drug use, sexuality and pervasive profanity) NYC crime drama revolving around a mobster’s (Robert Parkinson) efforts to spring his brother (Ben Safdie) from jail after a botched bank robbery. With Buddy Duress, Barkhad (I’m the Captain, now!”) Abdi and Jennifer Jason Leigh.
In This Corner of the World (PG-13 for mature themes and images of war) Animated historical drama, set in Japan during World War II, revolving around the survivor’s guilt of an 18-year-old girl (Non) who married and moved away from Hiroshima before the atom bomb was dropped on her hometown. Voice cast includes Megumi Han, Natsuki Inaba and Nanase Iwai. (In Japanese with subtitles)
Ingrid Goes West (R for sexuality, disturbing behavior, drug use and pervasive behavior) Aubrey Plaza handles the title role in this character study of a stalker who relocates from Pennsylvania to L.A. after becoming obsessed with an Instagram celebrity (Elizabeth Olsen). Featuring O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Wyatt Russell and Billy Magnussen.
The Only Living Boy in New York (R for profanity and drug use) Dysfunctional family drama about the love triangle which develops after a recent college grad (Callum Turner) discovers that his father’s (Pierce Brosnan) cheating on his mother (Cynthia Nixon) with a younger woman (Kate Beckinsale). With Jeff Bridges, Kiersey Clemons and Wallace Shawn.
Planetarium (Unrated) Supernatural fantasy about a couple of psychic sisters (Natalie Portman and Lily-Rose Depp) who are hired by a film studio executive (Emmanuel Salinger) to star in a movie about spiritualism. Support cast includes Louis Garrel, Amira Casar and Pierre Salvadori. (In English and french with subtitles)
A Taxi Driver (Unrated) Fact-based drama, set in South Korea in 1980, recounting how a cabbie (Kang-ho Song) helped a German reporter (Thomas Kretschmann) covering an insurrection in the city of Gwangju. With Hae-jin Yoo, Jun-yeol Ryu and Daniel Joey Albright. (In Korean with subtitles)
The Trip to Spain (Unrated) Third installment in the culinary series finds comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon cracking jokes while traveling around Spain and sampling the local cuisine over the course of five days.
Whose Streets? (R for pervasive profanity) Black Lives Matter documentary taking an unvarnished look at Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the police shooting of 18-year-old Mike Brown.