The Dark Tower

Bringing Stephen King novels to the big screen is always fraught with conundrums, the expansive detail not often translating well to film. Condensing the eight Dark Tower novels into a single sub-100 minute movie seemed especially ambitious. The Dark Tower screenwriters plucked bits and pieces from the series, beginning in the middle and crafting a tale from there.

The bulk of the film follows young Jake Chambers, whose powerful “shine” has him struggling with dark visions too real to be dreams. Jack stumbles across a portal that transports him to Mid-World where he joins the last remaining gunslinger, Roland Deschain, on his quest to hunt down The Man in Black and stop his plans to destroy the Dark Tower, a mystical nexus point that stands at the heart of all worlds., played with burning intensity by Idris Elba, proves he has not forgotten the face of his father as he handles the big guns with the sandalwood grips, dispatching a variety of supernatural baddies. Matthew McConaughey conveys the right smirk and menace for The Man in Black, leaving death and destruction in his wake. The set dressing has ample attention to detail, with some nice Easter eggs to other King works throughout.

Shot with a mix of 3.4K and 6.5K cameras and rendered from a 4K DI, The Dark Tower on Ultra HD Blu-ray looks terrific. From the gunslinger’s worn leather garb and cracked boots to the texture in buildings, the image has strong depth and feel. I enjoyed how the action scenes were shot, the stability letting us appreciate Roland’s lightning-fast reloads. The many night scenes display bright highlights from buildings and campfires where the HDR really pops. The film’s muted and often dusty color palette won’t push your set’s color gamut’s boundaries, but it’s natural and accurate. The disc also includes Dolby Vision, but, sadly, my system doesn’t.

The Dolby Atmos audio mix is reference caliber, with significant and frequent use of the ceiling speakers throughout to create ambience, expanding and immersing you in the action, with deep, powerful low end when called for. Dialogue is also well recorded and easily understandable regardless of the mayhem happening on screen. The mix features tons of directionality, particularly during the various gunfights, chases, and worlds the characters visit, with all 11 speakers fully engaged.

The Ultra HD set includes the film on Blu-ray Disc along with five deleted scenes, a bloopers reel, three promotional vignettes, five behind-the-scenes featurettes, and an HD Digital Copy.

Studio: Sony, 2017
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos / True HD 7.1 core
Length: 95 mins.
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba, Tom Taylor