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What Critics Are Saying About The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower is finally making its way to the big screen this weekend, but if critics' thoughts are any indication, it might have been better off staying in novel form. Reviews were finally released late Wednesday night ahead of the film's Friday release, and they are not good, with the movie amassing a 20 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Here's what some of the critics are saying about the mystical film.

Entertainment Weekly's Darren Franich gave the film a C-, praising the ability of star Idris Elba to work with the tough material he was given but calling his performance the only stand-out. Franich wrote that the movie failed to convey the fantastic and often random inspirations of King's novels, instead struggling to maintain a "clean through line" through the story. He also called the dialogue stilted and the overall plot choices bad, and criticized the film for lacking the "swagger" usually conveyed by its leads.

The Hollywood Reporter's John DeFore gave the film a slightly better review, calling it an overall competent and decent movie that missed out on its true potential by playing it too safe. DeFore wrote that it was surprising that the film reportedly had to undergo reshoots because it was too confusing, as the finished product comes across almost too easy to understand. "Heaven knows, the books offer more invention than could fit in one feature film," he wrote. "But in their effort to introduce newcomers to this world, the filmmakers make the saga's contents look not archetypal but generic and cobbled together."

Variety's Owen Glieberman also described the film as "competent and watchable," although in his review he counted that as a good thing. Glieberman, who noted that he hasn't read the books on which the film is based, wrote that the film was brief and stylish enough to be enjoyable, despite the fact that it offered no emotional resonance. "The Dark Tower works as a film because it's not trying to be a multiverse– and because, in its forgettable derivative ballistic way, it packs in just enough of the King vision to remind you that everything old can be new again, especially if it wasn't all that novel the first time," he wrote.

Indie Wire's Kate Erbland wrote in her D+ review that the film lends credence to the theory that the Dark Tower books are unadaptable, writing that the movie's decision to show the world through the eyes of the young Jake (Tom Taylor) limits it, forcing them to only present the few things that Jake can understand. Erbland said that the decision to simplify the story was a bad one, causing the movie to feel uninteresting and low on energy throughout. However, she praised Elba and Taylor's chemistry and said that the film shows marginal improvements when the pair are together.

USA Today's Brian Truitt also gave the film a negative review, saying that, while the film seems innovative, it actually lacks ambition. He gave the movie one star out of four, likening it to a bad 1990s Steven Seagal movie with just one redeeming quality– the performance of Elba. The rest of the film, though, he says falls flat, only briefly touching on King's complicated mythology and featuring an uninspired performance from Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black. "Dark Tower tosses out a lot of plot threads that never go anywhere and even the ending is rushed, like somebody forgot to study for an essay test and then has to B.S. their way out of a falling grade," he wrote.

Katheryn Winnick, Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley, Nicholas Hamilton, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz, Alex McGregor, and Jose Zuniga also star in The Dark Tower, which was directed by Nikolaj Arcel based on a script from Arcel, Akiva Goldsman, Anders Thomas Jensen, and Jeff Pinkner. The movie hits theaters this Friday; while we wait, prep by reading up on the untold truth of the story.