Why the Dark Tower Trailer Is a Failure

First Disclosure: We know it’s just a trailer and some of the following judgements and scenes may be out of context. However, let’s be real here: the only purpose of a trailer is to judge a movie. That’s why it exists. They cut together that trailer and put it on a stage and said “judge us.” That’s the game.

Second Disclosure: The Dark Tower books by Stephen King are my favorite books of all time. They’re psychedelic, literary adventures about the most badass character in fiction: Roland Deschain.

Roland is a no-nonsense gunslinger who is cripplingly obsessed with his quest for the Dark Tower, the central lynchpin that holds the universe together.

They’re part western, part post-apocalyptic, part Alice-in-Wonderland, and they’re all great.

So, Basically, Nothing Like the Trailer

The books are set in a dirty, broken, western-flavored world. By contrast, everything in the trailer is over-polished – it looks like a Michael Bay movie. The clothes are clean, Roland is wearing some kind of Goth superhero outfit, and the big guns are glowing with blue CGI runes. There’s no western flavor at all, as far as I can see – even the Mid-World desert is almost entirely green.

The Characters Done Goofed

Roland’s defining character traits are “no-nonsense” and “obsessed with the tower.” Let’s start there.

Nonsense: In the trailer, Roland is throwing his guns around like Revolver Ocelot and reloading mid-air for maximum style points. So, there goes that character trait right out the window. Tip for filmmakers: the word “cool” means “doesn’t give a shit.” So flipping your guns around is already not “cool,” because you’re trying to look “cool.” It’s the great contradiction. Roland is cool specifically because he DOESN’T flip his guns around and do John Woo slides. He’s not a superhero with magic guns. He’s just a broken man who shoots real good.

Obsessed with the Tower: In the trailer, JAKE is convincing ROLAND that he needs to find the Tower. That’d be like a 7/11 clerk trying to convince the Pope to spend a little more time in church.  Roland throws away all of his relationships and humanity in search of the Dark Tower – it’s the entire fucking point of his character. If Roland isn’t interested in finding the Tower in this movie, then he isn’t Roland. Full stop.

Let’s talk about the Man in Black, aka, Matthew McConaughey (?). The Man in Black is a master manipulator, a trickster, an illusionist. He plays behind the scenes, he never lets you meet in on even footing. He’s a thorn in the side of a straightforward man like Roland. This is Batman and the Joker stuff we’re talking about here.

He definitely isn’t a grim-faced battle wizard with totally dope telekinesis who gets in magical duels and throws fireballs and shit.

Alright, what about Jake? Well, it seems like Jake is the most intact of all the characters, though this Jake appears to want to go to Mid-World and find the Dark Tower, when in the books he just kind of gets drawn into it. One of his most pivotal scenes in the first book is how the quest for the Tower HURTS Jake. It’s not really something he should be shooting for, and yet in this trailer he seems to be the primary cheerleader and narrator.

The Tone is Subsequently Goofed

The general tone is all wrong. It plays like RIPD or an Underworld movie, when it should be a relatively staid western with weird elements. We see some kind of ninja-orcs that Roland shoots with his eyes closed (again, showing off to look “cool,” everything opposite the character of Roland). The belt full of speedloaders made me actively groan out loud – that’s some Paul W.S. Anderson bullshit right there.

The entire trailer has the flavor and texture of a superhero movie, which could not be further from the dark, cerebral source material.

If you’ve never read the books and don’t get what fans are feeling right now, picture a trailer for a new “To Kill a Mockingbird” movie and the first shot is Atticus Finch holding a flaming katana on the deck of a pirate ship in a storm-tossed sea.

Does it look cool? Sure.

Does anybody want that? No.

Was the Dark Tower screenplay written by the guy who wrote “Batman & Robin” and “I, Robot?” Yes.

The defense rests, Your Honor.

About Bobby Johnson

Part-time swashbuckler and professional writer, Agent Bobby lives in Southern California and goes by the names "B.C. Johnson," "Banjo Bob," and "The Amazing Spider-Man." His "Deadgirl" book series (think Buffy meets Stephen King) is available for Kindle, Nook, and even old dusty paperback and can be found at bc-johnson.com. When he's not writing or playing video games, he can be found writing about playing video games and occasionally sleeping.