Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #198

Stephen King News From the Dead ZoneThe Dark Tower trailer we’ve all been waiting for is finally here. Let’s get that out of the way straight off:

However, before the trailer showed up at 9:19 am Keystone Earth Time today, we were treated yesterday to some Twitter banter between Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey as they laid the groundwork for a couple of teaser trailers that contain some footage not found in the official trailer.

And here are links to Teaser Trailer #1 and Teaser Trailer #2. There’s also an official website for the movie, located here. And a couple of cool new character posters.


So, now that we have all that out of the way, how about a deep dive into the trailer?

After quickly introducing our hero (yes, Roland has all of his fingers. He hasn’t encountered the lobstrosities yet) and our villain (plus all the people who invested money into this movie!) we’re shown a desolate Mid-World and a ruined city that’s possibly-probably Gilead (presumably filmed in South Africa), with Roland’s voice-over about the thousands of generations when the gunslingers were knights “sworn to protect us from the coming of the dark.”

A few quick cuts that show Randall Flagg and a monster, then we are introduced to Jake Chambers in Manhattan, where he’s been having visions of a tower, a Man in Black, freestanding doorways and a gunslinger, and experiencing tremors (the preamble to a Beamquake?).

He talks to his therapist (Jake always believed that if he’d stayed in New York he’d end up in therapy)—who happens to have a photograph of the Timberline Lodge that doubled as the Overlook Hotel from The Shining on his desk—about these visions. Jake’s bedroom wall is covered with charcoal sketches he’s done of these visions. There’s another tremor.

One of his sketches leads him to the house on Dutch Hill that has a doorway to Mid-World. On the other side, he’s in a barren land with at least two moons in the daytime sky. He meets Roland, who immediately draws on him. “There are no gunslingers. Not any more,” Roland says as he performs the first of three incredible reloading feats, dragging his revolver along his ammo belt and somehow coaxing those bullets into their chambers.

They continue on Roland’s journey. The gunslinger explains the reason why the Man in Black wants to bring the Tower down. “It protects both our worlds. If it falls, hell will be unleashed.” As he’s explaining this, we see a rendition of the Tower coming down and a shadow falling over Manhattan.

Jake stands before a fiery entity that might be the Oracle or a thinny. There’s another scary creature, possibly a shot of the doorway guardian. The Man in Black walks through a doorway. “He’s like the devil, isn’t he?” Roland responds, “No, he’s worse.”

To prove the point, Flagg says, “You can’t stop what’s coming. Death always wins.” Roland and Jake face a band of bandaged creatures that I’m guessing are the Slow Mutants, except they aren’t too slow and they’re well armed. They also might be taheen. Jake stumbles across the remains of a fairground. The marquee reads “Pennywise” and there are some floating balloons nearby. Remind you of anything? Anything at all?

Jake issues Roland’s call to action. “Do they have guns and bullets in your world?” Roland asks Jake. “You’re going to like Earth,” Jake nods. “A lot.” Roland and Jake return to Keystone Earth through the portal.

The Man in Black taps a wall with the grafitti: “All Hail the Crimson King.” We get a brief glimpse of the Doorway Guardian enveloping Jake. Flagg asks Roland, “Did you tell the kid whoever walks with you dies by my hand?”

There’s an awesome shot of Roland’s gun open, the cylinder spinning, as he feeds bullets into it one at a time with incredible speed. He shows Jake how to shoot, and teaches him the Gunslinger Creed. When he mentions the face of his father, we briefly see Steven Deschain. There are some battle scenes where the Man in Black stops falling glass with his mind and Roland reloads by throwing a speed-loader in the air and snagging the whole thing with his pistol.

Jake is captured by one of the bandaged villains and Roland pulls off one of his best shots ever. He does not shoot with his eyes—he shoots with his ears, a blind shot that goes through a window, hanging laundry and the tip of a bush to find its target. This scene seems to take place in a village, so maybe it’s a variation of the Tull scene.

Okay. Deep breath. That’s a lot to process. There’s no mention of the Horn of Eld, although it’s fairly clear that this isn’t the same journey that we’ve been through in the seven novels. Roland never went to New York with Jake in the books—he went with Eddie Dean, who isn’t part of this movie. It looks like we’re getting elements from The Gunslinger and from The Wastelands, primarily the parts where Jake remembers Mid-World after his fate is altered. We’re going to get some Dixie Pig and some taheen from the later books. Supposedly we’ll meet Richard P. Sayre. There’s a quick glimpse of Jake’s mother. And then there’s a whole lot of action that isn’t in the books at all.

But we’ve been expecting that, haven’t we? The early hints about the Horn of Eld tell us that this is a subsequent journey for Roland. That means change. That means Roland is improved. Perhaps it means that he won’t let Jake fall beneath the mountains. Perhaps it means his ka-tet will be different this time, because ka always provides what Roland needs. Who knows? All I know is that I’m thrilled by the trailer and I can’t wait until August 4th for the movie to hit theaters.

8 thoughts on “Stephen King: News from the Dead Zone #198”

  1. Nice. I’ve been a little concerned, hearing about all the changes made to the original story, but that trailer puts some fears to rest. Elba might not look like the gunslinger from my minds eye, but he sure as hell looks like a gunslinger. And that shot at the end, through the window, laundry and bush – wow!. I’ll definitely be seeing this. Hope it plays out well so we get a few more.

  2. It looks amazing – even though they’re leaving Eddie & Susannah out – I’m impressed & I can’t wait!

  3. My oh my my…this movie is going to be great…Wow!!! I’m truly a Dark Tower fan (read ALL the books) but this trailer is off the chain! SK was right…it is awesome… I love it! I’m impressed …wicked gunslinger moves; my kind of action movie. Right choice about Idris and Matthew. Books never do ‘translate’ to movies or TV ‘exactly’ but everyone should already know that…so on that note…I can’t wait to see this movie. Wow!!!

    1. I agree with you 100% on everything you said – I can’t wait! SO excited! #ConstantReader

  4. I’m going to be a party pooper here & say I dislike “The Dark Tower” series, despite Stephen King being one of my favorite authors. I have almost everything he’s published, including all “The Dark Tower” books, but I cannot get through it. I’ve tried several times, really I have, but I find it a mind-numbing slog.

    However, seeing Idris Elba as Roland sends happy chills up my spine & I will definitely see the movie. Since I haven’t read the books & won’t know what’s been changed, added, &/or omitted, my worry is the filmmakers will use tired Western/shoot’em-up tropes since we all know King’s horror/fantasy works don’t translate well to the screen (e.g., the upcoming cinema version of “It”).

    1. Bibi, I must say, for years I felt as though I couldn’t read the Tower series, either. I got my niece hooked on SK years ago & she said they were great. I could never get through the 1st book. Well, I sat down last fall, and once I started reading & got into it I was SO glad I had all the books and didn’t have to wait for the next installment to come out! I was happily surprised reading his magnum opus. The Stand was always my favorite previously, but I have to say – you MUST try again! Perhaps after you see the movie, you’ll change your mind. They HAVE changed a lot – I can see by the trailer – the movie looks amazing – but the books are ALWAYS better than the movie – you know that! I have to emphasize this and I can’t do it enough – TRY, TRY AGAIN! I guarantee you’ll change your mind by Volume II.

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