'Dark Tower' exceeds expectations

I have been like a kid in a candy store waiting for “The Dark Tower” to come out.

The cast members, including Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, are solid in their particular roles.  Elba’s part is of Roland Deschan, The Gunslinger, who for all intents and purposes is like a real-life knight of old.  He no longer uses a sword, rather a gun as a weapon.

McConaughey is an evil creature simply referred to as the Man in Black.  His identity is that of Walter who cares very little for life.  He nonchalantly kills some of his servants without a care in the world.

Tom Taylor brings a sense of knowhow and smarts as Jake Chambers, an 11-year-oldwho deals with fiction that becomes fact.  He ventures into Mid-World, a link between the real world and another place that is fiction.

It took more than a decade, but the adaptation of Stephen King’s epic fantasy-Western hybrid finally made it to the silver screen.  Quite a few years ago, “House of Sand and Fog” director Vladlim Perelman was attached to “The Dark Tower,” but often a mere handshake is not a guarantee.

Obviously, his vision did not pass the muster with producer Ron Howard who handed the reins as director to Nikolaj Arcel, who usually spends time writing screenplays for films like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” which goes back to the 2009 original with Noomi Rapace and Michael Nyqvist. That particular entry was on my Top 10 list for 2009.

What people need to realize is that King just has his name attached to the project and nothing else.  His one directorial effort behind the camera was the awful “Maximum Overdrive,” a popcorn flick headlined by Emilio Estevez in 1986. It was not a good movie in the least. Pure drivel. Trust me.

A lot of King adaptations are among my favorite movies of all time. Among them,  the 1994 epic drama, “The Shawshank Redemption,” the fictional story about a convict wrongfully sentenced for a murder he didn’t commit.

I also admired 1999’s “The Green Mile” in which Tom Hanks was a prison guard in the 1930s who had to oversee the dreaded walk to execution in the title.

The late Michael Clarke Duncan was Oscar-nominated for his role as John Coffey, a giant man who constantly states his name which is not spelled the same way as that tasty caffeinated beverage.

The trouble is that with most King adaptations, he just sells the rights to use his name. Nothing more, nothing less.

King will become even more of a household name this fall when episodes spun from “The Dark Tower” will be seguing to TV screens in some capacity as well as the new King-inspired “Mr. Mercedes,” a Brendan Gleeson-led tale that will have interesting and dynamic characters galore.

Grade:  B-