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5 things you didn't know about this summer's The Dark Tower


Here are five essential nuggets of information you need to know about this summer's spectacular Stephen King adaptation, The Dark Tower.

1. It's a continuation of King's novels

Yes, the rumours have now been officially confirmed. This certainly marks a break with tradition. When Hollywood acquires a series of bestsellers, the usual approach is to work through them in chronological order, Harry Potter-style. But in this case, Stephen King's eight-volume novel series provides the springboard for a new story that builds on the Dark Tower mythology.

Of course, that doesn't mean you have to be familiar with the books to understand the movie. But it does give the filmmakers the option of returning to the novels for a full prequel series if the film becomes a hit.

2. Idris Elba is The Gunslinger

In a masterstroke of casting, the great Idris Elba plays Roland Deschain – aka The Gunslinger – whom King has described as having something of a 'Clint Eastwood as Man with No Name' vibe about him.

The mystical Deschain is the last of his kind in Mid-World – part of a parallel dimension in which he's on a quest to protect the huge tower that forms the centre of all universes.

3. Matthew McConaughey is the bad guy

Naturally, the Gunslinger faces plenty of obstacles during his eventful mission.

None of these is more formidable than his eternal foe the Man in Black, played by Matthew McConaughey.

An ancient trickster and sorcerer who goes by a variety of names, including Walter O'Dim, he's determined to unleash hell by toppling the tower.

4. It's been gestating forever

OK, that's a slight exaggeration. You want the full story? How long have you got? Here's a brief summary.

Way back in 2007, long before Stars Trek and Wars came calling, JJ Abrams was eager to adapt the novels with his Lost co-creators Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof.

When that fell by the wayside, none other than Da Vinci Code writer Akiva Goldsman, director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer came up with an ambitious plan for a trio of movies with a concurrent TV series to continue the story between films. It was even said that Javier Bardem had been offered the role of Deschain.

After this collapsed, Goldsman, Howard and Grazer took the project from Universal to Sony in 2015. Finally, it was fast-tracked into production, though Howard handed the directorial reins to Nikolaj Arcel. The talented Danish director's credits include the Oscar nominated 2012 costume drama A Royal Affair. This will be his first English-language film. 

5. Pity those who try to classify it

So what exactly is The Dark Tower? Well, it's a fantasy, obviously. But it's also a science fiction film, as the Gunslinger and Man in Black are able to move freely through dimensions. They even arrive in our own world, where the Gunslinger picks up a young protege in the form of Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor).

So it's also a mentoring drama. And a western. There are plenty of monsters too, so you could call it a horror movie. The sheer relentlessness qualifies it as an action film too. Oh, just go and see it and form your own opinion.

The Dark Tower opens at Cineworld on 18 August.

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