This movie at a glance
Rating
  • Recommended for mature audiences
Recommendations
  • Not recommended for children under 12
  • Parental guidance for children under 15
  • Suitable for children over 15
Warnings
  • Contains frightening scenes
  • Contains violence and scary scenes
  • Contains disturbing or upsetting scenes
Genre Action, adventure, fantasy
Length 95 minutes
Release Date 17/08/2017

Legend

Not recommended for children under 12 Not recommended for children under 12
Parental guidance for children under 15 Parental guidance for children under 15
Suitable for children over 15 Suitable for children over 15
Contains frightening scenes Contains frightening scenes
Contains violence and scary scenes Contains violence and scary scenes
Contains disturbing or upsetting scenes Contains disturbing or upsetting scenes

Story

In The Dark Tower, a young boy named Jake (Tom Taylor) has recurring dreams about children being tortured by an evil sorcerer named Walter (Matthew McConaughey). The children’s psychic energy (called the ‘Shine’) is channelled through a weapon that is designed 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 to seek revenge for his father’s death.

When two people come to Jake’s house to offer him psychiatric treatment, Jake recognises markings on their skin as the same as markings in his dreams. This confirms what he has suspected all along – that his dreams are actually visions of reality. Jake’s escape from the two impostors leads him to a portal that crosses over to another world, where he meets the Roland. Roland confirms that Jake’s dreams are real and that Walter is chasing Jake for Jake’s unprecedented psychic power. Walter needs Jake’s power to destroy the dark tower.

Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.

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

Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.

The Dark Tower has some violence. For example:

  • The opening scenes show children apparently being tortured. They scream as they’re strapped to chairs. Their energy is then used as a blast that sounds like many children screaming at once.
  • A child punches a bully in the face.
  • Walter sets fire to people – this is implied rather than shown.
  • There are 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.
  • There are knife attacks, including one in which an innocent villager is stabbed through 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’s thrown out of the bus window and onto the road.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, The Dark Tower has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • The opening scenes of children strapped to chairs and screaming are very scary.
  • There are numerous sudden earthquakes.
  • A ‘house demon’ tries to subdue Jake by making the house ‘come alive’. The house’s walls, floor, wood and so on form a tornado-like structure, which grabs and engulfs Jake.
  • Various monster-like demons suddenly appear and attack Jake and Roland.
  • Some enemies wear skin coverings like masks so that they seem human. Occasionally, the coverings slide away from their heads, making them look grotesque.
  • Walter often appears out of nowhere.
  • Walter’s dark magic is likely to disturb 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 movie’s dark and eerie sound effects. 

From 5-8
Children in this age group are likely to be scared by the scenes mentioned above. They’re also likely to be disturbed by themes and imagery involving Jake’s parents. Jake’s father is dead from the start of the movie, and Walter later kills Jake’s mother and stepfather.

From 8-13
Children in this age group are likely to be scared by the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Younger children in this age group are likely to be scared by some of the scenes mentioned above, especially those involving occult themes. These scenes and themes could be disturbing both visually and psychologically. 

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Dark Tower shows some use of substances. For example, Roland takes a bunch of painkillers all at once, despite Jake’s advice not to do this. Roland isn’t human and knows that he can handle it, but this scene might send the wrong message to children. This is partly because Roland later says, ‘I feel the best that I have in a long time’. 

Nudity and sexual activity

None of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in The Dark Tower: Coca-Cola.

Coarse language

The Dark Tower has infrequent coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

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

The main messages from this movie are about choosing good over evil, trusting your instincts and valuing 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. It’s the strength of this relationship that ultimately overcomes evil and saves the Universe.

Despite the fact that The Dark Tower features a young boy as its main character, this movie isn’t suitable for children under 12 years and isn’t recommended for children under 15 years. This is because the movie has scenes and characters that are likely to scare young viewers, as well as the violence and supernatural themes that earned it an M rating.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the importance of strong relationships with family and friends.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the consequences of taking drugs, including prescribed medication. You could talk about how important it is always to follow the instructions on the packet so that you avoid the risk of overdosing. 

 

Last updated or reviewed
24-08-2017

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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