Film / The Dark Tower (2017)

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I do not aim with my hand; he who aims with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I aim with my eye.
I do not shoot with my hand; he who shoots with his hand has forgotten the face of his father. I shoot with my mind.
I do not kill with my gun; he who kills with his gun has forgotten the face of his father. I kill with my heart.
The Gunslinger

The Dark Tower is a live-action adaptation/sequel of author Stephen King's series of novels of the same name, that was released on August 4, 2017.

Idris Elba plays the last gunslinger, Roland Deschain, and Matthew McConaughey plays the Man in Black. Though based loosely on the first book in the series, it is considered canon in its own right by virtue of taking place after the last line of the final novel. (Those who have read the books understand why this is a big deal; others need not be spoiled.)

Intended to launch an expanded universe of media, including a television series that would adapt the Whole Episode Flashback novel Wizard and Glass, the movie underperformed at the box office and was written off by critics as being largely incoherent. The fate of further adaptations has not been confirmed.

Previews: Trailer, Connected KINGdom.

The Dark Tower contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Playground: An abandoned theme park from before the world moved on. Jake has to tell Roland what it is.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Jake, who is blond in the novels, is played by brunet Tom Taylor.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Both Jake's mother and father (well, his real father anyway) are much, much nicer than they were in the novels, and his mom actually cares for him versus barely knowing he exists. Additionally, Jake's dad is a network executive in the novels; here he's a firefighter who died in the line of duty. You don't get more heroic than that in NYC.
  • Adult Fear: Your only son runs away from home just before he's about to go someplace meant to alleviate his supposedly troubled mind.
    • Walter invokes this with Jake's mother when he deliberately brings up how, even with good intentions, she almost sent her only son to an institute which intended to exploit her boy for a nefarious purpose.
    • Inverted with Jake, who worries that his mother is okay during his absence from home.
  • After the End: Mid-World is a wild and dangerous place dotted with the ruins of a fallen civilization. None of the people that live there have any clue what these crumbling structures used to be despite still being able to operate some of the old tech.
  • Alien Sky: Mid-World in the film has two moons, one of which is much bigger than ours. Even though he's landed in the Thirsty Desert with no apparent way to return to Keystone Earth, Jake appears quite happy to see the two moons, knowing that he's actually in another world.
  • Alternate Reality Game: As part of the film's marketing campaign, an app for the Sombra Group appeared on the Google Play and App Stores on July 19th, which includes a scanner that accesses symbols from the novels when used on certain images.
  • Ancestral Weapon: Roland is armed with his family's sandalwood revolvers, which is forged from the sword of Arthur Eld.
  • Anyone Can Die: If your name isn't Roland or Jake, chances are you didn't make it through this movie.
  • Asshole Victim: Jake's step-dad really had it coming.
  • Badass Longcoat: Roland is sporting a well worn yet still classy duster. The Man in Black is a villainous example.
  • Bad Boss: Do you work for Walter? Hope the health plan is really good because he doesn't take failure well.
  • Ballistic Discount: A heroic example, as just prior to the big shootout at the climax, Roland forces a gun shop owner to hand over all the bullets of the caliber for his revolvers.
  • Big Bad: The Man In Black (Walter Padick) is the film's main antagonist, contrary to the books where he was merely the Crimson King's agent (though that is implied to still be the case here; see Greater-Scope Villain).
  • Big Applesauce: Part of the film takes place in New York City.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Ballistics: It doesn't get much more bizarre than someone altering the path of his own bullet by ricocheting another bullet into it from the side, and one fired from the same gun, to boot. It violates physics on so many levels one doesn't even want to count them anymore, but at least it looks cool.
  • Boom, Headshot: Roland favors a single shot to the head to dispatch his opponents. He also finishes Walter with a final bullet between the eyes.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Jake makes a point of leaving his bag outside so it doesn't look like he's trying this trope, but the people from the 'clinic' quickly realise what he's up to, break down the door and go after him.
  • Broad Strokes: The events of the film only loosely follow those of the books, which makes sense, since Roland having the horn indicates that this is the next iteration of the cycle started at the end of The Dark Tower.
  • Bullet Catch: Walter does this all the time. The first time we see it, he catches a bullet shot at him from behind, without looking back.
  • Bully Hunter: A kid at Jake's school snatches his drawing book off him, but instead of the standard bully-picking-on-the-weird-kid scene, Jake just lays right into him and forces the bully to hand it back. Unfortunately this gets Jake sent home from school which is the last straw for his parents.
  • Call-Forward: at one point, the Man in Black opens a cabinet of glass orbs, from which he selects one, a pink one, in which to watch a raid he has commissioned. Maerlyn's Rainbow, a series of 13 glass balls with Palantir-esque powers, feature later in the series; the 13th and most dangerous one is the black one, but the pink one is also central to Wizard and Glass.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Earlier on, Jake tried to warn his mother not to send him to the institute because the people sent to pick him up were monsters in disguise he saw in his dreams. Later, it's deconstructed when Walter points out to Jake's mother that her son was right all along, before killing her.
    • A crazy homeless person tries to warn Jake that he's in danger. It seems like the usual Mad Oracle Doomsayer trope, but Jake later realises that he was one of the boys who were abducted, then abandoned when he was no longer of use.
  • Compelling Voice: The Man in Black seems to have this as his main power, forcing people to (among other things) stop breathing, kill each other, and hate simply by telling them to do so.
  • Compressed Adaptation: Among other things, there's no mention of Eddie or Susan, and Sheemie only cameos as a crazy hobo. The Man in Black dies at the end of the movie, rather than late into the series. Of course, this is what comes from adapting two to three several hundred page books into an hour and a half.
  • Continuity Cameo: One of Jake's drawings of the tower and field of roses has a composition almost identical to one of Michael Whelan's illustrations for the books.
  • Contrived Coincidence: A group of Roland's allies on Mid-World send him and Jake back to Earth through a portal. To Earth, without any specific location attached. Where do the heroes end up? Smack-dab in the middle of New York, the place where Jake comes from and Walter's main base of operations is located.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The eponymous Dark Tower is as literal an example as it gets.
  • Couldn't Find a Pen: Done with ashes instead of blood.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Man in Black, a malevolent force within the universe of The Dark Tower is, rather appropriately, dressed in all black and possesses jet-black hair.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The titular Dark Tower; its existence means the universe/multiverse is protected from beings from outside reality.
  • Demoted to Extra: Though not a character, the titular Dark Tower technically counts as this. Even though it plays a larger role in the series, it is seen very little in the film.
  • Destination Defenestration: At one point during the Final Battle, one of Walter's Mooks tackles Roland out of a window, leading to them crashing into a bus.
  • Doing In the Wizard: While plenty of wizardry remains, some of the explicitly magical things in the books, like the portals between worlds, are given a technological explanation.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Roland warns Jake not to wander off by himself in the woods. That night he's lured away from Roland by a demon using a glamor of his dead father.
  • Eagleland: When Roland asks Jake if his world has guns, Jake smiles and tells him he's going to love it there. Given that they end up in the USA, it makes perfect sense.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Walter O'Dim's ultimate plan is to bring down the Dark Tower, allowing all the hungry things in the outer dark to rush in and devour and destroy as they will. The fall of the Tower means the end of the world.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: A zigzagged variation. Walter anticipates what the good guys (like Roland) will try. There are things Walter doesn't comprehend about good (like the Seer comforting a dying man), but it's to the point where he just thinks there's an ulterior reason for it.
  • Evil, Inc.: The Sombra Group, the evil Mega Corp. aligned with the Crimson King from the novels which is working to destroy the Rose in our world, appears once again in the movie.
  • Evil Is Petty: When he's on Keystone Earth looking for Jake and Roland, Walter passes a random young girl on the street and just arbitrarily commanded her to hate for no reason.
  • Evil Sorcerer: You were expecting anything less from Walter O'Dim, evil magic user and would-be Omnicidal Maniac?
  • Faux Affably Evil: Walter acts friendly enough when things are going his way, but he'll kill people for basically no reason, as seen when he tells Jake's stepfather to stop breathing.
  • Fish out of Water: During his brief time on Earth, Roland just doesn't fit in.
  • Flechette Storm: Roland shoots out a skylight above Walter, who takes the falling glass and redirects it at Roland, who catches a shard of glass through the palm.
  • For the Evulz: Walter's pettier actions are undertaken simply because he enjoys hurting others.
  • Gas Leak Cover Up: An overheard newscast in the epilogue blames the very visible, glowing-red harbinger of the apocalypse in the sky that appears during the finale on the one thing stuff like this is pretty much always blamed on in recent movie history: a freak solar flare.
  • G-Rated Drug: Roland quite enjoys the sugar from a can of Coke (though he likes our painkillers too).
  • Ghost City: Lud, a remnant of a time long gone and a symbol of the decay and death of Mid-World.
  • Glamour Failure: Walter's minions clothe themselves in human skin to operate on Earth unnoticed (and also to not offend Walter's sensibilities, it seems), but their disguise comes with very visible seams behind the ears and has a tendency to sag, giving away their true nature. Jake's still the only one to take note even in crowded places, though.
  • Glass Cannon: Walter is an incredibly powerful sorcerer, but if you get past his magic, a bullet will do the job on him just fine.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The Crimson King is hinted to be the one behind the scenes. When encountering his subordinates, the Man in Black is asked eagerly how they can "serve him", implying someone above Walter. And there's graffiti saying "All Hail The Crimson King."
  • The Gunslinger: Roland Deschain of Gilead is one of the quintessential examples in popular culture, and it's no different here. As in the novels he appears to be a Trick Shot and a Quick Draw, but he also shows elements of The Woo since he wields both guns.
  • Guns Akimbo: Since Roland didn't lose several of his fingers to a lobstrosity this time around, he wields both of his ancestral revolvers at once as he did in The Gunslinger.
  • Heroic Second Wind: When Walter brings Roland down, all seems lost until Jake psychically whispers the Gunslinger's creed to Roland, making him remember the Gunslinger he truly is to get himself back up and take Walter down.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Roland is a Gunslinger, so this comes with the territory, but for example:
    • Roland manages to kill a Mook making off with Jake by shooting through two windows, a clothesline and a bush at one point, without even looking.
    • Roland also appears to use his bullets ricocheting off of various surfaces to his advantage.
    • Roland kills the Man in Black by bouncing a bullet off of another bullet to push it out of the way of Walter's grab and into his heart.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Of all people, it's Walter who (sadistically) shames Jake's mother for sending her son to a special "institution". Even though she had good intentions, she didn't even bother to come to this "facility" and see for herself if it was authentic.
  • Kick the Dog: Walter's specialty. Murdering Jake's mother is a dick move. But drawing a smiley face and taunting message out of her ashes is a special level of dickery.
  • Kill It with Fire: If Walter doesn't just tell you to stop breathing and drop dead, he'll probably inflict this on you instead.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Roland is bitter and not a very friendly man after the fall of Gilead, but is still a heroic man deep down. He's even more sour in the novels.
  • Last of His Kind: Roland is the last Gunslinger of Gilead.
  • Latex Perfection: The Can-toi wear fake human skin while disguised as humans.
  • Let Them Die Happy: The seer is comforting a dying man, when Walter makes an appearance and congratulates her on being able to lie about the Nothing After Death.
  • Lighter and Softer: In comparison with the books (which are pretty much R-rated material, while the movie is rated PG-13.)
  • Look Both Ways: Though the mook does get shot first, which must be rather distracting.
  • Made of Iron: Played for Black Comedy when Roland is taken to a hospital on Keystone Earth. Not only is he showing Tainted Veins from a demon sting, a bunch of doctors turn up to inform him that he's suffering everything from hepatitis to radiation poisoning. When they want him to remain overnight for observation, Roland just pulls out his IV tubes and walks away.
  • Mind over Matter: Telekinesis is one of Walter's powers, and he's damn good at it as Roland finds out the hard way.
  • Move Along, Nothing to See Here: Appropriately enough used by The Man in Black when he makes two minions kill each other in a restaurant, then uses his Compelling Voice to stop bystanders from interfering. Walter then adds that they ain't seen nothing yet.
  • Mythology Gag: Several to the various other works of Stephen King's 'verse:
  • The Nothing After Death: Walter claims this is the case to mock a dying Gilead gunslinger.
  • Oh, Crap!: Jake's mother when she realizes that the intruder standing in front of her in her kitchen is the same man from her son's nightmares about the end of the world.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Walter O'Dim plans to bring down the Dark Tower and bring about the apocalypse, leaving humanity and the world annihilated.
  • One-Man Army: Give Roland a gun or two. Now watch him positively mow through Walter's army singlehandedly.
  • Parental Substitute: Roland steadily becomes like a new father to Jake.
  • Portal Network: Walter and his minions operate a fairly high-tech-looking one to travel between the worlds. Roland and Jake hijack it at several points, which never goes unnoticed by the bad guys and is even used to track them down on occasion.
  • Post-Apunkalyptic Armor: The Taheen in the movie looks like something straight out of Mad Max.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Walter is using the powers of psychic children to attack the Tower. Jake is powerful enough to potentially bring the whole thing down by himself.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Walter checks out by way of a .45 bullet to the forehead. This should've made a spectacularly gory mess, but all we see is a nice and clean entry wound that doesn't even bleed.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: The seer starts bleeding from the nose during her futile struggle to resist Walter's Compelling Voice.
  • Race Lift: Roland, who is described as looking like a man of Caucasian/"white" descent, is played by British-Ghanaian actor Idris Elba.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Walter gives one to Jake's step-dad, summing up how he purposefully sent Jake to that "institution" just so he could "have mommy all to [his] self."
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue: At least part of the Final Battle is Roland fighting to rescue Jake from Walter.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Jake has his drawings on the wall of his room, and takes them down when his mother starts talking of sending him to a clinic.
  • Sadist: Walter loves hurting people. It's rare he'll just kill a victim without twisting the knife in some way.
  • Satanic Archetype: Discussed with regards to the Man in Black.
    Jake: He's like the Devil, isn't he?
    Roland: No, he's worse.
  • Scenery Porn: Mid-World is an awesomely beautiful place. Too bad you can't go ten steps without something nasty trying to kill you.
  • Shout-Out: That scene that looks like product placement from the Road.
  • Signature Scent: Jakes leaves blood behind on a splinter of wood from the house demon. Walter gives the splinter to his minions so they can track him.
  • The Sociopath: Walter ticks just about every box here, being utterly incapable of empathy for anything else.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Jake Chambers is killed in the first book of the series, but is brought back to life, only to die in the final book. Here, he survives the entire film.
  • Stealth Sequel: Because Roland is now in possession of the Horn of Eld already from the beginning of the story, it is apparent he is going through a different iteration of past events, most likely after the final book of the series.
  • Stepford Suburbia: The opening scene takes place in a town of happy children playing. Then the audience notices the Uncanny Valley appearance of the caretakers before a Cold War-type siren sounds, the children are used to power the machine attacking the Dark Tower, and the town is shown to be an oasis on a mesa above the Wastelands.
  • Storming the Castle: During the Final Battle, Roland bursts into Walter's base on Earth and mows down the army of Mooks inside.
  • Straw Nihilist: Seemingly the reason why the Man in Black wants to destroy The Multiverse. He believes death always wins and the tower will inevitably fall so he may as well hasten it along. Of course, he's also a sadist in general, so he may have just been saying it to psyche Roland out.
  • Super Senses: Roland appears to have an unnaturally sharp sense of hearing that allows him to analyse active battlefields and perform insane shooting feats without seeing his targets.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Both Roland and Walter qualify in their own ways. Funnily, Walter actually describes Roland with these exact words at one point. Possibly a subtle reference to Eddie Dean, who referred to Roland as "Old long, tall, and ugly."
  • Thirsty Desert: Both Roland and Jake appear to be in the Mohaine Desert at one point or another.
  • Tom the Dark Lord: Despite being haunted by terrible dreams of his evil Jake can't help but laugh when he finds out The Man In Black's name is Walter.
  • Unorthodox Reload: The trailer shows Roland pulling off some very impressive reloads with his revolvers, including rapidly dropping individual bullets into a spinning cylinder, trailing his open cylinders along his belt as he pushes bullets into the chambers with his thumbs, and catching two speedloaders in mid air with both of his guns' cylinders before quickly opening fire. In the books, he had a "reloading trick" for reloading two revolvers simultaneously at speeds that never got described in detail — presumably one of these is how it went.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Walter breaks into Jake's apartment and proceeds to... cook some chicken, since they don't have any on Mid-World.
  • You Have Failed Me: Walter makes the two minions who failed to catch Jake the first time kill each other. Later, he scars the face of the head of his security forces when the attack on the village Jake and Roland are hiding in fails.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Roland wants The Man in Black's head on a pike for killing his father. Later on, he also wants to avenge Jake's mother and stepfather.
    • Subverted when Walter uses The Power of Hate to activate the Tower-destroying beam; he can't get it to work until Jake says, "You killed my mother!"

"Death always wins."

Alternative Title(s): The Dark Tower

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/TheDarkTower2017