May 3, 2017

Trailing Off: "The Dark Tower" (2017)

Welcome to the sporadic column Trailing Off in which I take a look at a trailer from the past week and analyze its potential. This will be done using an obnoxious amount of analyzing and personal thoughts on the cast and crew as well as expectations. I will attempt to highlight films ranging from new blockbusters to lesser known indies and give them their due. Partially to spread awareness, I do believe that there is an art to the sell and will do my best to highlight why these trailers matter or don't with approval (trove) or disapproval (trash). So please stop by, recommend some trailers, and I will see you next time.


Trailer in Discussion



Directed By: Nikolaj Arcel
Written By: Akiva Goldsman & Jeff Pinker & Anders Thomas Jensen & Nikolaj Arcel (Screenplay), Stephen King (Based on Novels)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Katheryn Winnick, Idris Elba


- Preamble -

It is one of the most difficult things to get right. A Stephen King movie adaptation has become a dime a dozen over the past 40 years, but few could be called anything above passable. It could be because his work is often mistaken as schlock that appeals to horror fans who like the scares cheap and fast. Some of the films don't even capture the essence of what has made the author so beloved for the past several decades. He is one of the most renowned living authors, and this year he'll see two of his most iconic works hit the big screen within a month of each other. One of them is It. The other is one that many have likely already been anticipating for longer: The Dark Tower.
To put it briefly, King considers "The Dark Tower" series to be his magnum opus. It makes sense when you consider that it is the artistic definition of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. To describe the plot of any of the books is to notice how ridiculous it is. Then again, the assurance that he brings to the writing elevates the material to something that would make for a great adaptation - but probably would never get the right budget or time to evolve properly. As it stands, The Dark Tower movie is only the tip of the potential franchise iceberg. There's a proposed TV series in the works to explore the novels in closer detail. Still, it's a great time to explore what is often regaled by fans as his best work, but often unknown by anyone else.
The one conflict going into the movie is that The Dark Tower is being proposed as a "sequel" to the books. It's a tough call, especially since the franchise wrapped up quite a few years ago. It is especially disappointing given the rich imagery that runs rampant through each of the books. Soon the question becomes not only how faithful the movies will be, but will they have anything from the actual books. One can only imagine that fans would demand a hard yes to this. As it stands, casting Idris Elba as Roland Deschaines is a tad controversial, if just because the book pictures him as a Clint Eastwood type. Still, the liberties are in motion and it's time to see what the film version officially looks like. Fingers crossed that it looks pretty good.


- Dissection -

For fans, there is plenty of confusion at the idea that this is a sequel to the books. The iconography is immediately recognizable, and the closing mantra is familiar to anyone who has read "The Waste Lands." There's so many details within the three minute trailer that suggest that this isn't a sequel, but in fact a compilation of every book. Out of context, most of the titles are present here and do their best to establish a cast so ridiculous that Roland even loads bullets into the chamber of his gun midair. If anyone is expecting a serious movie, it's best that they look elsewhere.
But does the trailer do any justice to those who haven't read the book? It may be misleading as a King movie, if just because the action is played up. What is there does feel like a bit of a riff on something like Underworld, where the magic coexists with the real characters. The stylized kill shots also have a familiarity to them. Still, this is a film that packs a lot of information in, and it's tough to suggest that anyone not familiar with the book will get it. Why is this complicated world unfolding in the way that it does? It took a whole novel to coax the reader into this odd world. By potentially mushing every one of the books into one film, it may end up creating similar conflicts of too much with too little coherence.
Still, it does a good job of making the world look as genuinely crazy and exciting as "The Dark Tower" books describe them. Even if it doesn't entirely make sense, there's plenty of room in the teaser to feel, well, teased. It leaves moments that capture the essence of the books and provide some imagery that is extremely striking. It may not be ideal in creating a franchise where every book gets its own movie, but it is doing a decent job in the looks department. One can only hope that King's "greatest work" gets the treatment that it deserves. For now, it looks like it's on its way there.


- One Sentence Sell -
Stephen King explores multidimensional worlds in this fantasy western full of cool gun fights and monsters.


- Trove or Trash -
TROVE

It all depends on how much you already like "The Dark Tower" books. If you have read them, you're likely more optimistic and get what's going on. Otherwise, it's still a very weird and fun trailer.

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