Australian Council on Children and the Media

Dark Tower, The

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Not suitable under 12, not recommended 12 to 15, due to scary scenes, violence and supernatural themes

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Dark Tower, The
  • a review of Dark Tower, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 August 2017.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to scary scenes, violence and supernatural themes.
Children aged 12 to 15 Not recommended due to scary scenes, violence and supernatural themes.
Viewers aged 15 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Dark Tower, The
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes and violence
Length 95 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

A young boy named Jake (Tom Taylor), has recurring dreams featuring children being tortured by an evil sorcerer named Walter (Matthew McConaughey). The children’s psychic energy (called “The Shine”) is channelled through a weapon in which aims to destroy a dark tower (which protects the Universe from its centre).  Jake’s dreams also feature a good Gunslinger named Roland (Idris Elda) who is tracking Walter in order to seek revenge for his father’s death.

When two people come to his house to offer psychiatric treatment, Jake recognises markings on their skin that are the same as those in his dreams. This confirms what he has suspected all along- they are not just dreams, but visions of reality. Jake’s escape from the two posers leads him to a portal which crosses over to another world where he meets the Gunslinger. Roland confirms that Jake’s dreams are real, and that Walter is chasing Jake for his unprecedented psychic power in order to destroy the dark tower. 

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Good vs evil; revenge; the supernatural; extra-sensory perception; trust

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • The opening scenes show children, apparently being tortured, strapped to chairs and screaming. Their energy is then used as a blast which sounds like many children screaming at once.
  • A child punches a bully in the face.
  • Walter sets fire to people (implied rather than visually shown).
  • Numerous gunfights.  A gunshot to the back of Walter’s head is shown and Roland takes on a large group of enemies with high powered guns.
  • Knife attacks, including an innocent villager being stabbed through from the back with a large knife.
  • A man gets thrown against a wall
  • A man suddenly gets hit by a car
  • A man falls from a tall building and into a bus. He then gets thrown out of the bus window and onto the road.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are many scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The opening scenes of children strapped to chairs and screaming are very scary.
  • Numerous sudden earthquakes occur.
  • A “house demon” tries to subdue Jake by making the house “come alive”. The material of the house (e.g., walls, floor, wood etc.) forms a tornado like structure and grabs and engulfs Jake.
  • Various monster-like demons suddenly appear and attack Jake and Roland.
  • Some enemies wear skin coverings to appear human (like a mask). Occasionally, these are shown sliding out of orientation to the structure of the head, giving the enemy a grotesque appearance.
  • Walter often appears out of no-where and the use of this dark magic is likely to be disturbing to younger children. For example; Walter walks past a mother and daughter eating ice-cream. He waves his hand over the girl and says: “Hate”. The girl’s face turns from being happy to extremely hateful and she glares at her mother.
  • Roland gets pierced through the shoulder by a demon tentacle.
  • Walter is shown at close range with a bullet hole in his forehead.
  • Younger children are also likely to be scared by the dark and eerie sound effects.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by the above mentioned scenes, and in particular the themes and imagery involving Jake’s parents. Jake’s father is dead from the start of the movie and his mother and stepfather are later killed by Walter.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be scared by the above mentioned scenes.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group are also likely to be scared by some of the above-mentioned scenes, especially those involving occult themes, which could be disturbing both visually and psychologically.

Product placement

Coca-cola

Sexual references

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

Nothing of concern

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Roland takes a bunch of painkillers all at once, despite Jake’s advice not to do this. Roland is not human and knows that he can handle this, but may send the wrong message, as later he says: “I feel the best that I have in a long time”.

 

Coarse language

Infrequent coarse language includes "batshit"

In a nutshell

The Dark Tower is a science fiction action movie based on the book series by Stephen King.

The main messages from this movie are about good vs evil, trusting your instincts and the importance of relationships. Despite heavy opposition, Jake always struggles to do the right thing. Following his instincts, Jake seeks the help of Roland the Gunslinger and together they take on the evil sorcerer Walter. Hence, it’s the strength of this relationship that ultimately overcomes evil and saves the Universe.

The film is not suitable for under 12s and not recommended for viewers under 15 due to scenes and characters that are likely to scare young viewers, and the violence and supernatural themes which gave the film its M rating.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include the importance of strong relationships with family and friends.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The consequences of taking drugs, including prescribed medication, particularly following the advice guidelines on the packet and not risking overdosing.

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