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The Dark Tower by Tom Holkenborg (Review)

posted Sep 8, 2017, 3:03 PM by Kaya Savas

The Dark Tower came and went with a thud. One of Stephen King’s most prized literary works seemed like a no-brainer to adapt into a film, but things can always go wrong. With a poor approach that seemed botched from the start, the film had no idea what it wanted to be. Caught in the middle of studio demands and a director doing his best was Tom Holkenborg who was also doing his best to keep the film from collapsing. Holkenborg scored this movie 3 (count ‘em, 3) times, and it seems like third time was the charm. The final score is a great overall piece of work that simply lacks an identity of inspiration to make it stand out.

What The Dark Tower has going for it is a great atmosphere and overall approach. The movie itself is as basic as it gets with its good vs evil plot, so the score didn't have to to veer away from the formula too much. Synthy action cues blend well with the orchestral passages, and the central theme is quite nice. The whole sound is steeped in this gothic romanticism that builds nicely towards the climax. Given that the trailers were pushing for a western feel, it was interesting that not much of a western sound found its way into this supernatural world of gunslingers. In the end what was missing was probably some sort of heroic touch to make us care about our hero. The action itself isn't inspiring, but it gets the job done. And the orchestral world building moments lack any awe or gravitas.

The Dark Tower is a severely flawed film that ended up giving Holkenborg more than he bargained for I’m sure. With the film going through 3 full overhauls, it required him to start from scratch and re-write the score 3 times to match the new tone shifts that came with each new cut. Tom himself feels the 3rd and final cut is indeed the best of the 3, but it’s still a brisk run through all the familiar motions. While the thematic structure and overall approach are successful in what they set out to accomplish, we are still missing an emotional core and overall originality to make The Dark Tower feel unique or memorable.