Oh, I don’t know.
Look, don’t worry, I’m not going to do one of these frame-by-frame deals what be all the rage nowadays. Here’s the deal, though: This is going to be super weird. Reactions are going to run the entire gamut of trailer-reaction, from excitement to reservation to meh to hard pass. As for myself, I’m still fully in the ‘guardedly optimistic’ camp.
To restate my credentials, The Dark Tower books were entirely formative. I came in on the series when The Waste Lands came out, when I was like 13 years old. I went on to re-read the books like a billity times and those stories and those characters and that world are ingrained forevermore in my imagination. The Dark Tower is super important to me, in other words. This movie will have no bearing on that. I’m determined to take the film(s) on its own terms.
It seems clear that the filmmakers were at a loss as to how to adapt such a weird bunch of books. The trailer certainly dips into mainstream trailer tropes and that’s fine if a little disappointing. I think my chief worry is less about how well the story translates as opposed to an unwillingness to be weird. The worst thing that can happen here is trying to cram all the strangeness of the novels into a superhero origin story in order to appeal to the summer masses. Luckily, I don’t got too much of that here. Like, I have no idea what is happening, but it does seem like the movie is going to go places.
Most importantly, I see the things this film will need to succeed in this trailer. First and foremost, I think they’ve nailed the casting. Idris Elba is fucking perfect, and now that I’ve seen him in action I can’t picture anyone else pulling this off (unless we’re going to open up a time-portal to extract the Clint Eastwood from A Fistful of Dollars). The kid playing Jake seems legit. I’ve been on the McConaughey train since day one. The casting is vital simply because this movie will live and die by its characters. The relationship and interplay between Roland, Jake, and the Man in Black is the only thing that matters. Everything else is ancillary.
Okay, all that other stuff happening is important, and I think it mostly looks cool. I don’t know who all these other people in Mid-World are, but whatever. Tull? OH SHIT I THINK IT’S TULL. Ahem. After the characters, the other thing the movie needs to do is set atmosphere and tone. The Dark Tower books are moody: specifically they’re lonely and esoteric, and for the film to really nail the feel the books, they need to be less about dope slo-mo revolver reloading and more about desolate, post-apocalyptic landscapes. We shall see. It’s a trailer, after all. Is it August 4th yet?