, , , , , ,



Franchise building isn’t easy, nor is there a single straightforward means of approaching the process. Look, for instance, at how Marvel and DC have developed very different foundations for their cinematic universes, both of which are based on comic book properties that have been around for decades. It could be argued that bestselling author Stephen King’s mythic Western fantasy series has comparable prestige and pedigree, which makes Nikolaj Arcel’s adaptation a bit of a headscratcher. Teased as the first installment of a massive film and television event, “The Dark Tower” introduces viewers to the heroic gunslinger Roland (Idris Elba) and his nemesis, the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), but without any of the epic feel and tone befitting the series. The movie takes a rather pedestrian route with both the narrative and the special effects, resulting in a lackluster action flick that wastes the talents of its leads and squanders any and all hopes for the future of this King fantasy that could have rivaled Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings,” in terms of its cinematic vision.




Like a totally self-aware friend looking to breeze into your life for a quick entertaining adventure, Luis Prieto’s “Kidnap” takes the screen and carries audiences along for a brief and engaging, yet highly implausible thrill ride with Halle Berry as a desperate and harried single mother whose young son gets snatched during a day at an amusement park. Fortunately, this beleaguered mom spies the kidnappers and begins to immediately pursue them through all manner of unlikely scenarios, leaving much collateral damage in her wake. Intriguingly, Prieto slows things down enough to let us see that Berry is no ruthless avenging machine-like Liam Neeson’s father in “Taken.” She recognizes the terror she leaves in her wake, but she also knows that it will all be for nothing if she doesn’t get her son back. How’s that for a mother’s love?