We got the first Dark Tower trailer last night and it was a lot. So we, of course, picked it apart to figure out what we could about this seemingly complicated movie.
All images: Sony via YouTube
The thing to know about Dark Tower the movie is that it isn’t the usual translation of the first book in a series into a movie, kicking off a franchise. Instead, based on this trailer and an Entertainment Weekly article, we know that chunks from all of the novels are being remixed into this first movie. The premise of the first book — Jake (Tom Taylor) meeting Roland (Idris Elba) and their running confrontations with the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) — is the architecture everything else is bolted onto.
The third book is also really influential and locations and scenes from books five and six will also pop up.
For obvious reasons, the trailer features a lot of Roland’s gunslinging skills. I would note the blue in the background which matches the beams that hold up the Tower. (The Tower is the centre of creation and it keeps everything from falling into Hell. The six beams — in the book they’re only seen by their “effects”, but they’re literal energy beams in the movie — keep it up. The Man in Black wants the Tower destroyed, Roland does not.)
Roland: “For thousands of generations, the Gunslingers were knights sworn to protect us from the coming of the dark.”
This is pretty gorgeous shot of Mid-World and a location that I’m fairly certain is Algul Siento, mainly because of the “Crimson King” graffiti we see later which would tie into that city’s story pretty well.
This particular trick I think takes place on modern-day Earth, but it’s hard to tell.
Please enjoy McConaughey’s face here.
Roland fires up towards this thing which doesn’t match any description from the books that I can find.
Here’s where the third book stuff comes in. The third book has a lot of Jake’s life in New York, his visions, and his mum sending him to a shrink because of them. Also, while the books put Jake’s childhood in 1977, we’ve heard that “a lot” of the movie takes place in the modern day. That could mean some time travel shenanigans, but it also likely means that Jake’s time period has been moved forward to be more accessible. Given everything else that’s going on here, that would make sense.
The shaking is from the beams and the Tower, which Jake is dreaming about and thereby freaking out his mother — enough that she sends him to a shrink.
Who asks what Jake sees in the visions. “I see a Tower, and a Man in Black, and the Gunslinger,” he answers.
The tower Jake draws is surrounded by red, as it is when we see it start to crumble later in the trailer.
There are a ton of clues hidden here. We see a lot of the Tower and it falling. The Man in Black, Roland, the Doorway (but not the Doorway Demon). There’s also a drawing of the woman on the bottom left. She doesn’t appear in the trailer and might be an Easter egg for a later movie. Our best guest is Susan Delgado, Roland’s long-gone love.
“They’re not real, Jake,” is the answer. But then the tremors start and we get a shot of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining on the desk, one of many references to other Stephen King works in this trailer. I would not want to be treated by someone with ties to that place. Just saying.
Another thing from the third book brought into this movie is Dutch Hill Mansion, a New York mansion containing a portal between worlds. It matches one of Jake’s dreams. It seems like red in the portal means it will take you to Mid-World and blue is the colour for travelling to Earth.
Jake getting to Mid-World the first time through this portal is very different than how he gets there in the first book, where the Man in Black pushes him into traffic and he dies. If Jake dies in this movie — which seems inevitable — I think his first death will be his second book death (falling from a crumbling bridge during a confrontation with the Man in Black). Or the Man in Black will kill him in a more active way, simply because his story in the first book (having already been in Mid-World) doesn’t line up with what we see here. Again, the third book is really providing a lot of the story for this movie.
The link to Jake’s second death is in the trailer, by the way. Jake says, “There’s another world out there, I know there is,” which are similar to his second last words.
Jake says he knows Roland, he’s a Gunslinger. “There are no Gunslingers, not any more.”
Always listen to someone who’s had visions of you.
This bit appears to be the first look in the trailer at the Dixie Pig, which shows up in the sixth book. It’s a weird kind of Gothic shopping centre in the movie, and a New York hideout for the Man in Black and his supernatural minions.
Jake, on one of many scenes we see of him and Roland travelling, asks why the Man in Black wants to destroy the Tower.
Matches Jake’s drawings, doesn’t it?
Roland: “The Tower protects both our worlds. If it falls, Hell will be unleashed.”
If I had to guess I’d think the red explosion here heralded the Doorway Demon. The monster — which Jake also drew and which was in the very beginning of the trailer — returns.
The Man in Black walks in somewhere with snow or fog in the background which we don’t recognise from the books. Maybe a dogan (which is like a control room)? Jake: “He’s like the Devil, isn’t he.”
Roland: “No, he’s worse.”
I think the second shot is the Man in Black in the Dixie Pig. Could be the Mansion, though.
This is the first shot of what are probably Taheen, who work for the Man in Black.
There are a lot of scenes from this fight in the Manni village. The Manni are taken from book five, and they study mystical ways to move between worlds. Claudia Kim plays Arra Champignon, who in this movie helps Roland and Jake, which is a definite addition to her character from the book, although her book connection to Roland’s father, Steven Deschain, helps explain why he pops up later in the trailer.
“You can’t stop what’s coming. Death always wins,” says the Man in Black.
Crap from other worlds ends up in Mid-World all the time, including this… skyscraper? Chunk from a cathedral?
And also, of course, Pennywise from It. “Your world might be gone, but mine isn’t,” says Jake, setting the stakes.
“You let that Tower fall, billions of people die,” he continues. Odd that Jake has to convince Roland to save the Tower here but there must be a reason.
Roland: “Do they have guns and bullets in your world?”
Jake: “You’re going to like Earth. A lot.” Well, some parts. Well, definitely the United States.
It looks like the Man in Black is waiting in the Mansion for something. Blue, again, seems to be people coming to Earth.
Obligatory fish out of water in Times Square shot. The cars look modern.
The graffiti is “All hail the Crimson King.” The Crimson King is the big, big bad of the books. He’s the source of everything going wrong. The Man in Black’s boss.
And here’s Jake getting caught up by the Dutch Hill Mansion Demon, which protects the portal in the house by turning the house into a very dangerous obstacle. Whether or not this scene lines up with the scene of Jake from earlier in the trailer is unclear.
“You clawing your way out of the darkness? Did you tell the kid whoever walks with you dies?” says the Man in Black, foreshadowing Jake’s death again.
Again, this all appears to be in the Dixie Pig. In a tie to the seventh book, EW‘s Anthony Breznican reported that there are people with “SOMBRA” badges on their uniforms in this movie. I can’t spot any in this trailer though.
Roland: “I will kill him, for both of us.”
The models are so creepy.
The glass windows in the space where Roland teaches Jake to shoot match the ones he dives out of above. Also, a cool foreshadowing of Roland teaching his ka-tet to be gunslingers themselves.
And here’s Dennis Haysbert as, we have to guess, Steven Deschain, Roland’s deceased, Gunslinger father from the past. He’s missing the big old moustache, though.
This is clearly from the climax of the movie, but it doesn’t look like any of the confrontations that I’d expect in this movie, considering Roland and the Man in Black don’t actually fight in any of the books this is truly drawing from.
Back at the Manni village, the Taheen try to grab Jake and run. But this is where we really see what Roland can do.
“I do not aim with my hand, I aim with my eye. I do not kill with my gun. I kill with my heart.”
There is a lot going on in this trailer. The book references are all over the map, which makes it hard for fans to really parse. There are so many locations and new ideas in it that I can’t imagine newcomers are quite able to see everything. On the other hand, it looks good, the cast is clearly in it to get it right, and I’m dying to see more. The Dark Tower is out August 17.