The Dark Tower parents guide

The Dark Tower Parent Guide

If you can dodge the bullets and overlook the body count, the story is intriguing enough to want to know what will happen next.

Overall C+

When young Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) discovers a parallel universe, he is befriended by a gunslinger (Idris Elba), and the pair set out to save both of their worlds by finding the Dark Tower and defeating the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey).

Release date August 4, 2017

Violence D+
Sexual Content A-
Profanity B-
Substance Use A-

Why is The Dark Tower rated PG-13? The MPAA rated The Dark Tower PG-13 for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.

Run Time: 95 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is the classic “Chosen One” in The Dark Tower, but parents don’t assume a teen protagonist equals a movie suitable for all your kids. First clue: It’s based on a Stephen King novel… an author known for thriller and horror stories, not fun family romps.

This sci-fi has a kill rate that’s right up there with R-raters. It just doesn’t have as much blood or explicit details. And, to be fair, we’ve seen Star Wars episodes with as many dropped bodies. It’s just that this one uses guns (seems they are effective population limiters on other planets besides ours) and it glamorizes the ability to shoot countless bullets to accomplish the classic cinematic justification of violence: saving the universe.

Our young hero has this tough task. His serial nightmares feature a messed-up sorcerer, known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), who is strapping kids to a funky chair and sucking their mental powers to send energy impulses toward a dark tower with the goal of eventually knocking it down. (I’m guessing they were out of TNT at the local dynamite shop…) Fighting back is a guy known as The Gunslinger (Idris Elba), a cool dude whose pistol loading techniques even left me wanting to play with guns.

When morning comes, Jake heads to school where he’s picked on for his mental anguish. At home, the guy who lives with mom (a tragedy took his dad’s life a few years back), wants him sent to a mental institution.

His mother is torn between experts’ opinions, the bullying brute she lives with and her son’s pleas for compassion. When the classic social worker and tough minion arrive to take the boy to crazy-land, Jake immediately recognizes their strange physical characteristics—they are from his nightmares. Managing to escape into New York’s urban maze, he uses clues from his nightly adventures to discover a portal that opens into his dreamscape. Inside he meets the star players of his overnight distractions.

Even though I haven’t read the book (which is part of a series), it’s obvious there are pieces missing in this puzzle. So, I wonder, will we get more context in the almost-certain sequel? Or did these bits of information, like the Man in Black’s motivation to destroy all life, get shot down in the process of stuffing a novel into a barely-over 90-minute film?

To be fair, The Dark Tower intrigued me enough to want to know what will happen next. Another plus is this bid-to-save-all-life-from-extermination is a serious tale and leaves no time for sexual soirées. Other than some references to deity and a couple of scatological curses, there’s little else for parental concern (except for those many bullets).

I’m sensing there may be a positive moral message coming in the next episode, but will it also offer some glue to hold the plot together? If not, this tower could fall without the help of a madman.

Directed by Nikolaj Arcel. Starring Katheryn Winnick, Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey . Running time: 95 minutes. Theatrical release August 4, 2017. Updated

The Dark Tower
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Dark Tower rated PG-13? The Dark Tower is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for thematic material including sequences of gun violence and action.

Violence:
Children are kidnapped, forcibly strapped in a chair, and attached to a machine that sucks energy out of their minds. Children suffer pain and scream during this procedure. Earthquakes, explosions and attacks on cities are shown. A fist-fight breaks out after a character is bullied. Battles are depicted, with gun, knife and other weapons use. Many characters are killed (some on screen): impact and some bloody injuries/wounds are shown. People are chased, thrown, beaten, stabbed, shot and hit by vehicles. Characters are threatened with fire, and some are set ablaze. A village is set on fire and mass destruction is threatened. A character, without conscience, cruelly treats others and often kills them. Corpses are frequently seen. Characters are in peril. Monsters, strange creatures and even inanimate objects attack. Characters sniff and taste blood left behind by an enemy. Two characters are commanded to kill each, and begin to fight. Shoot-outs are frequent. Characters use magic powers and physic abilities, sometimes to help and others to hurt and kill people. Settings are often dark and creepy. A character worries about who he can trust, and is occasionally betrayed. Adults argue. Characters lose close personal friends and family members.

Sexual Content:
A man looks lustfully at various women. Some female characters are dressed like prostitutes: two of them attempt to get a man’s attention. A teen couple hold hands.

Profanity:
Infrequent use of scatological slang, crude references, mild profanity and terms of deity.

Alcohol / Drug Use:
Characters are seen in a bar type setting. Intravenous medication is given in a hospital. A man takes prescription drugs, but does not follow the doctor’s instructions. A young teen, who suffers from nightmares and emotional trauma, is treated by a psychologist.

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More parents' guide for The Dark Tower after the break...

The Dark Tower Parents' Guide

In this sci-fi tale, a gunslinger seems a bit of an anachronism. Why do you think Stephen King used this Old West hero in his story? How does he compare with the technology used by the Man in Black? What other powers, characters and plot themes hark back to a simpler time? (Did you catch the reference to King Arthur?) How modern does present day Earth appear?

The Gunslinger seems to trade his noble purpose for the pursuit of revenge. Why? What difference does his motive make if killing the Man in Black will satisfy both his hate and saving the universe? What has the Gunslinger forgotten about places like Earth? What have the inhabitants of his world forgotten about him?

In a couple of places in this movie, the Man in Black tells characters (and viewers) that death is the end, and there is nothing after. How do you feel about that statement? Do you think the religious characters in the story are lying when they try to soothe the dying? Or do you think the Man in Black is just trying to rob them of hope? What are your beliefs about life after death?

News About "The Dark Tower"

Parents may be wondering if The Dark Tower will be kid-friendly. After all, the film stars a young teen (Tom Taylor) in a leading role. Of course, not all movies with youthful characters feature content that is appropriate for viewers the same age as the characters. And this might be the case here.

The Dark Tower is based on a series of novels written by horror writer Stephen King. The trailer for the film shows a lot of violent depictions as the teen and the gunslinger team up against the Man in Black. Although the action looks stylized, it will undoubtedly be too frighting for young viewers.

Late to receive a rating by the MPAA, The Dark Tower has now (July 19, 2017) been awarded a PG-13, with warnings about its themes and action sequences. Parents with any questions should heed these cautions. Further content details are posted in our CONTENT section.

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