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TRAILER REACTION: “The Dark Tower”

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One of Stephen King’s most popular book series is finally coming to life as Sony has released the first trailer for the highly anticipated cinematic take on “The Dark Tower”. The film stars Matthew McConaughey, Idris Elba, and Tom Tyler in a tale of two worlds, our world and an alternate one whose fates are intertwined through a conflict between a Gunslinger and an evil sorcerer. I took a look at the trailer and broke it down to take a closer look at what we can expect from this upcoming sci-fi adventure.

 

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The first thing we get is a bit of narration from Indris Elba’s Gunslinger, Roland Deschain who explains that gunslingers like himself used to protect his world, known as End-World. We get very quick glimpses of him and his enemies in action as it’s immediately established that the film will portray a post-apocalyptic side of End-World. This is a great establishing moment to start off the trailer because immediately we know the stakes are high and that the Gunslinger is a member of a higher order of warriors in his home world bent on destroying evil. Regardless of whether you’re familiar with the source material or have never read it, like myself, this is a great way to introduce fans old and new to the hero of the story.

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Then we meet Jake Chambers, played by Tom Taylor, who awakens as if everything we saw in those opening seconds was a dream. The earth shakes beneath him and we know right away he has some higher understanding of End-World. Jake is shown in a psychiatrist’s office trying to explain what he saw in his dream, including a picture of the titular Dark Tower. Obviously Jake will be the modern world connection to End-World who, through his premonition like dreams, discovers clues of the existence of another dimension. We don’t know yet if this is due to an otherworldly force or ability or if this is a cliché of destiny yet, so it will be interesting to see why Jake, of all people, has some connection to this alternate world.

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We also get our first good look at “The Man in Black”, Matthew McConaughey’s Walter Padick who will be an ageless sorcerer and the villain of the story. Later on in the trailer we get some more details on his character and he is shown to be a cocky and powerful being, one that the Gunslinger seems to fear in a way and one who, again later on in the trailer, implies that the Gunslinger has lost people close to him because of the pair’s rivalry. We’ll talk more about him later, for now back on track we go…

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Next we see the portal to End-World that Jake discovers and walks through to progress the plot. Seemingly immediately he meets the Gunslinger who he recognizes from his dreams. The Gunslinger once again establishes that he seems to be the last remaining man of his skill and goes on to explain that the Dark Tower is a protecting force that, if destroyed, could lead to the end of both worlds and that the sorcerer, Padick, wants to destroy it.

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We get some glimpses of the monsters and threats that the pair will be facing in the movie and a few more establishing shots of McConaughey as Padick telling the Gunslinger “death always wins”, an interesting statement for an immortal sorcerer to make that sets him up to be a comic book-esque villain bent on world domination and destruction. Jake gives a speech about the Gunslinger having a responsibility to save his own world and Jake’s world by protecting the tower which will no doubt be the central conflict of the film that could create pose to be a challenge for the Gunslinger as he battles a legitimate threat in Padick while dealing with the loss of his world and the weight of protecting a new one he may never have known existed.

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The trailer does, in fact, confirm that the Gunslinger will enter Jake’s world as we see a comical exchange where Jake tells the Gunslinger he will like earth because it has plenty of guns for him to use. The two go back through the portal and the Gunslinger gets a look at New York City in a shot that could be for dramatic use in a time of stress or could represent his amazement at seeing the city. We don’t know the context yet, but it’s a full 360 shot that shows the Gunslinger at a loss.

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As stated earlier this trailer delves a bit into what we can expect from Padick. We get a bit of dialogue that shows the Gunslinger in dire situations and Padick telling him to remember the fate of those who were close to him in the past. This is great because immediately, from this trailer alone, we know there is history between these characters. The evil sorcerer and the Gunslinger have met before and the Gunslinger appears to have come out on the wrong end of that exchange, which will no doubt haunt him as he faces off against Padick again here with a new soul at stake.

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We also see the growing relationship between the Gunslinger and Jake. We get glimpses of the two talking with the Gunslinger promising to kill Padick with Jake by his side. We also get a great shot of the Gunslinger teaching Jake how to shoot with the Gunslinger offering some insight into why he is such a good shot and the motivation behind his talent, mentioning his father and his dependence on sight and faith to hit his target rather than his hand. The Gunslinger and Jake will have a bond, one that will surely create issue for our hero who has already lost so much, and we may see Jake finally give the Gunslinger something new to fight for as Padick tries to destroy two world with one blow.

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Next we get a great shot of the sorcerer and Gunslinger fighting it out. The Gunslinger does his thing while the sorcerer stops shattered glass from falling onto him in mid air, the only real presentation of Padick’s powers we get in this trailer that further establishes the comic book-like quality of his character and the rivalry. Personally I feel we don’t see enough of what makes the sorcerer a real threat in this trailer. We get only one real moment where his powers take center stage and the rest is character-establishing dialogue. I would have liked to see a few more examples of why the sorcerer is so feared, but maybe that would have given away too much…anyways moving on!

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In that exchange we get the best shot of the entire trailer, no pun intended, as the Gunslinger tosses a series of bullets into the air and brings his revolver down, catching each one in the chamber before pointing his twin pistols for battle. This shot, and a few others in the trailer, are defining moments for understanding how badass the Gunslinger is going to be. This ain’t your typical western cowboy gunslinger. No, this is a talented and stylish badass with attitude who knows how to handle a loaded weapon and reload with speed, grace, and finesse even in the heat of a fight.

I honestly can’t wait to see more of this and it makes the guns out to be kind of like the Gunslinger’s swords, using the character’s stylish reloading tactics the same way a sword waster would swing his blade in creative and unimaginable ways to block his opponents or make the final blow. This is the kind of detail I wish we saw for the villain because we know the hero is a badass, we don’t know why this character is so afraid of or threatened by his opponent.

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Closing out the trailer we see Jake under distress. A creature has captured him and the Gunslinger wants to save him. We see him focus and shoot a single shot, killingly the creature with a blow to the head after the bullet passes by and through several obstacles. The shot is made without the Gunslinger even looking, further establishing his badassery. An overlaid remark has the Gunslinger saying he kills “with his heart” a possible metaphor for him using all the pain he suffered to his advantage and channeling it to make him a better and more effective shooter as he truly wants to kill anything he shoots at.

Overall “The Dark Tower” looks extremely entertaining and while I never read the Stephen King novels, I’m hooked. I want to see more, especially of the Gunslinger, and understand the story and the relationship between these characters to the fullest. It could be the start of an epic franchise and the trailer has shown plenty for us to be excited about, even if it might have left a little too much to the imagination in terms of the antagonist. “The Dark Tower” hits theaters August 4. Watch the full trailer below and let me know your thoughts of the first look at this upcoming sci-fi film.

 

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