The Dark Tower Trailer Breakdown 20

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: The Dark Tower.)

The Dark Tower is a mystery. It’s an adaptation/kinda sequel to a series of Stephen King books that act as an expansive corpus of multi-world fantasy that has the epitome of a cult following. There are thirty years between the first and last published books, and it’s been ten years of development to bring this to theaters – enough time to take us from J.J. Abrams with Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen to Nikolaj Arcel with Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba.

There’s no telling what this thing is gonna be like. Even the trailers only offer a glimpse that’s shoot-out heavy and suggests that our world is at stake if the tower falls. To be blunt, they make the movie seem generic, and the books are anything but.

So what do you pair with something like that? Let’s stick with the fantastical, the adventurous, and the bullet-riddled, but I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section.

Tales From Earthsea (2006)

There’s a troubling dearth of Ursula K. Le Guin adaptations. This Studio Ghibli gem is technically one of them, although it’s still miles off from the iconic fantasy series. That’s probably why there aren’t more.

Goro Miyazaki’s tale of dragons and wizards and True Names was like using the “Earthsea” stories as recipe ingredients but emerging with a different dish. Still, bronze is the gold we get in film form, and the movie is still lesser Ghibli (read: still way better than most). Like The Dark TowerTales From Earthsea represents a stab at realizing a sprawling metaphorical universe as well as the pitfalls of adaptation. The movie version focuses on Sparrowhawk, a powerful wizard investigating why the world’s Balance is failing while guiding the teenage prince Arren, who’s personally affected by that failing. See the movie, but definitely read the books.

The Stand (1994)

A truly stunning achievement in episodic storytelling, Mick Garris and King utilized some strong ’90s talents to translate a book large enough to be used as a blunt weapon into a thrilling, four-part epic. King has been obsessed with immense battles between Good and Evil for a long time, and this incarnation (complete with his recurring devil Randall Flagg) packs a post-apocalyptic outbreak story and Biblical magical realism into a suitcase headed for Las Vegas. After killing most of the population off with the King-canon virus Captain Trips (shout out to Night Shift), two ensembles form to square off as representatives of faithful goodness and greedy maliciousness, and Gary Sinise aw-shuckses his way through the potential end of the world.

It’s not as sprawling as The Dark Tower may prove to be, but they’re still dark fantasy cousins at the epicenter of the fight for humankind’s soul.

Wanted (2008)

After the Dark Tower trailers, this was the obvious style comparison. Roland dropping six bullets into the revolver cylinder in less than a second, flinging his arm wide to take shots, making incredibly long shots – there’s a religious worship of the gun at the center of what we’ve been shown so far. It’s a sacred object that can do some absurd things.

Enter Wanted, the ridiculous Chosen One assassin movie where bullets are essentially rubber, and James McAvoy trains with a secret gang of killers who obey a giant weaving instrument. Bonus points: it came out the same year The Dark Tower went into development.

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