Tag Archives: Franchise

How Are They Going to Pull Off… The Dark Tower

As I said recently, it’s getting to be time to start really thinking about and talking about The Dark Tower. Honestly, the trailers started hitting for this one very close to its release date, which is refreshing, after so many films with trailers 6 months to a year or more out from the movie’s release.

The movie has renewed interest in the series, not only in myself, but in a number of fellow Comparative Geeks. Hannah has just gotten to reading the books for the first time, after asking what she should read by Stephen King. I know I suggested the Dark Tower series, because I had asked the same question of myself a few years back: having never read any King, where do you start? The Dark Tower is so large and meta that it is representative of the rest of King’s work in many ways, making it a great starting place.

Meanwhile, Rose is re-reading the series, and on Wizard and Glass last I saw.

https://twitter.com/EvilGeniusRBF/status/866732630150193152

It’s with Rose I’ve been talking about the series the most, and it’s been interesting talking with a fellow reader and trying to recall these books. We’ve talked especially about the first book and how it functioned to introduce readers to the world, which seems particularly relevant in terms of the film.

There may be more about the books to come from Hannah, Rose, or others (Holly hasn’t read them… yet), but for now, I want to consider what we’re seeing here about the film, and how it relates to the books, and the general question of… how are they going to pull off this series?

But the first book is The Gunslinger, say please, say thankya

The thing first and foremost that I’m sure a great many fans latched onto when they were first seeing anything about this movie is that it’s called The Dark Tower. This is the name of the series, sure, which also how franchises like this seem to sell themselves lately (Hunger GamesTwilightMaze Runner, etc.).

We can perhaps blame Harry Potter (which may also come up in the books…) for this phenomenon, but his name was indeed in each book title at least. Unlike Fantastic Beasts, which seems is going to share that title with each film…

The thing is, by not calling the movie The Gunslinger – the name of the first book – they have clearly freed themselves from a slavish connection to the books. And we’ve heard rumors about a TV series, about the films being less than 7 (there’s 7 books… well, 8 now with an additional story-within-a-story book…), about them just generally trying to bring the story to the screen, rather than do a full adaptation.

Which, approaching this series from a non-traditional standpoint makes some sense to me. As it is, the series did not follow a traditional approach. For one thing, it was written across Stephen King’s career, ranging from one of his very first books to ones he rushed finished after a near-death experience, and even the more recent The Wind Through the Keyhole I was referencing above. Over this time, King’s storytelling changed tremendously.

The story also follows a main character who is not the most reliable for us to follow, and who also has a more local sense of the world he is in – a world that I think we will see visually has far more similarities to our own than Roland realizes. But for example, the middle book, Wizard and Glass, is almost exclusively Roland’s backstory as told to us by Roland.

When they started making a graphic novel series (written by one of my favorites, Peter David), they decided to approach the story chronologically, rather than as King wrote them. Therefore, it started with the events of Wizard and Glass, and then worked its way towards The Gunslinger and on from there.

It doesn’t look like the films will be following either the books or the graphic novels very closely, instead blazing its own new trail. Hopefully, they can keep it going now that it’s nearly upon us, since this film has been stuck in production hell. For more on that and some words on the potential of a TV show (and spoilers), I recommend the Wikipedia page.

The Characters

So one of the things Rose and I really got to talking about was the characters. I feel like I completely understand what happened here, as I experienced the same thing with my NaNoWriMo story that has become The Astral Chronicles (which I’ll get back to, I swear). The Gunslinger is a book with very few characters in it, basically focused entirely on our protagonist and the man he’s pursuing. There’s also young Jake, both a companion and a pawn.

Before I get back to Jake, it’s worth noting that the second book, The Drawing of the Three, addresses this problem: the three that are drawn are three main characters to join in the journey with Roland. This was a feeling I experienced after finishing my NaNoWriMo: the need to infuse the story with more main characters.

Anyway, as I mentioned above, I find Roland to be an unreliable narrator/protagonist. There’s far, far more about this world that he knows that is not revealed to the audience, or is revealed slowly over the entire series. He lives there, he’s the last of his order, he’s alone in the world. Plenty of reasons for him to be keeping things to himself, often without fully realizing he is – and often times with reason.

Still, as with most stories, a character that can function for the audience, who can pull out some information about the world the author is telling us about, who can be an excuse for exposition – that’s what we get in Jake.

It’s interesting, therefore, that the promotional things I have seen so far have focused on three characters: Idris Elba’s Roland the Gunslinger, Matthew McConaughey’s Man in Black, and young Jake. So while I’ve said that they can step far afield of the books, they may not have. The additional characters from The Drawing of the Three have not appeared and may not in the film, coming in later instead (though not in the TV show, potentially, if that’s set in the past). So that basically leaves this as The Gunslinger by another name.

Introducing more main characters later to this extent could be very interesting. Not sure how it’ll work out for this series – I guess wait and see! There’s plenty about these characters that is rooted in the time they were written, as well, but there’s plenty of room for this to be a story set not in our present day. So will the characters vary widely from the book, or not?

I want to talk a final spoiler-heavy area, but I’ll do so after this image!

The End is the Beginning is the End

 

I’d heard this rumor, and I saw it stated again on the Wikipedia page… with a source.

Oh. So Stephen King is letting us know. This is a sequel. This is set after the end of The Dark Tower the book. Possibly even after the graphic novels (since in those Roland also has the Horn of Eld). Is it really the last time around? Is this King’s attempt to close the loop, to end this series once and for all?

And with it being a new loop, will there be different major life/world events that play into it? For instance, in the books there’s a focus on the World Trade Center (and Black Thirteen), and on Stephen King’s own near-death experience. Will these things be replaced by something new? Cut entirely? That’s a few years on, at this point, but it’ll be interesting to see what they do!

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Star Trek vs. Star Wars – Throwback Thursday

After defining Science Fiction and the then Fantasy, it seemed appropriate to do something with those definitions. So why not dive into one of the biggest fights in all of fandom: Star Trek vs. Star Wars? They’re both billed as Science Fiction, but do they hold up as such when you’re working with these definitions? Let me know what you think!


This is an age-old geeky/nerdy question, as to which is better, or which is what, and I think now I am at a place where I can weigh in. Because both have a huge fandom around them, both have TV shows and movies and different eras and books and video games and… on what grounds do you compare these two worlds?

I have at least one way I would like to compare them. I recently did a post on the definition of Science Fiction – and one on the definition of Fantasy. I am going to be relying heavily on these definitions, as I think that weighing these will show a difference you can discuss between these two series.

Read up on the definitions if you haven’t already, and then let’s compare Star Trek and Star Wars!

STAR TREK – SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY?

Star Trek at its base is a story of exploration. This may be the very basis of science, as well, if we break it down, so in that way calling it Science Fiction makes sense. It also includes the hallmarks of science fiction stories, especially the large, space opera kinds: space travel, aliens. But does that all make it science fiction?

Looking at Frank Herbert’s definition of Science Fiction, Star Trek uses the aliens and situations to put the humans (and the rest of the crew of the Enterprise) to the test. There are varieties even within the alien races, with great examples being Spock and Worf. They stand out from the rest of their races, and we learn something through this interaction and comparison.

As Star Trek is an exploration story, it is not really a specific journey – even things like the five-year mission, or Voyager returning home, has strong episodic tendencies. This lends itself towards many problems, handled in a wide variety of ways. But the crew must always use their wits and technologies to handle these problems. Even if some of these technologies – like replicators and warp drives – are little more than wishful thinking.

Because of this episodic nature, Star Trek is not quite as escapist as it could be. It is still an escape – Tolkien may very well have liked it – but not so much so that it seems like a fantasy. The world is not so different from ours – it is, after all, our future – and is really more of a scientific utopian dream. It makes us think, and wonder, but maybe not escape from our world completely.

Star Trek is solidly Science Fiction.

STAR WARS – SCIENCE FICTION OR FANTASY?

Alright, you say, so far, nothing particularly surprising. Star Trek, a Science Fiction show, is Science Fiction. To which I say, let’s do that again, and see if the results are the same – with Star Wars.

Star Wars, at its base, is the hero’s journey of first Luke Skywalker, and then Anakin Skywalker (or really of Obi Wan Kenobi) before him. Even a story like Knights of the Old Republic, which I am playing right now, focuses on the journey, and rise to power with the Force, of your main character.

And here, then is the crux of the story: The Force. A mystical force of the universe which helps solve the characters’ problems. The good and evil of it are the basis of the conflicts in the story. It guides them, solves their problems, gives them powers to fight, to persuade… it is the mystical basis of what is done in the stories.

Following Frank Herbert’s definition of Science Fiction, characters in Science Fiction use their own wits and technology to solve their problems. But in Star Wars, there are pivotal moments where technology is turned away in place of the Force – like, say, in destroying the Death Star.

We also use aliens to tell us about our own humanity in Science Fiction – but in Star Wars, the aliens are far more part of the environment. They also, by race, tend to be similar to one another – a common trait in Fantasy, not necessarily Science Fiction. So are the Wookies, Hutts, and other aliens of Star Wars just the Dwarves and Elves of Star Wars?

I would say yes. Star Wars is escapist fun – if only there were the Force, we too could fight with swords and beat people with laser pistols (moving faster than light? Only possible if you can be in the right place before they fire, right?), move objects with your will, persuade others to your way of thinking… Yep, it all sounds really cool, and may be why Star Wars video games tend to be really excellent, and why Lucas Arts going away is such a devastating blow to the video game community.

Star Wars is a Fantasy story, where aliens and space are the fantastical landscape, where our heroes battle evil and go on personal journeys to become the saviors of the day.

STAR TREK VERSUS STAR WARS

So, if Star Trek is a Science Fiction world and series, and Star Wars is a Fantasy world and series, how do we compare them? Well, let’s think about a different comparison.

How about in books – can we compare Dune and Lord of the Rings? Sure, in terms of their roles as founding stories in their genres. One is a group, battling for good versus evil; another is a person fighting the various challenges of his day on his own (kind of continually true throughout the series). Comparing these to Star Trek and Star Wars, we switch which is a group and which individual, but these are not the fundamental differences between Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Dune and Lord of the Rings are both books – unlike the media differences between Star Wars with its base in movies, and Star Trek with its base in TV. So they’re more similar in this way. But in terms of what is and what happens in the stories, they are very solidly different. And I don’t feel like I have to say which I like better – they are different enough that I don’t have to choose, because I can’t compare them to each other well enough to say.

In the same way, how do we compare Star Trek and Star Wars? They’ve spawned worlds as large as each other, perhaps, so calling them two of the biggest fandoms and comparing them that way works. But in terms of the content? In terms of their stories? One is Science Fiction, and one is Fantasy.

So you can ask a different question, like, do you prefer Science Fiction or Fantasy? You can ask medium questions, like do you prefer movies or TV shows – Video Games or Books? But just asking the question, do you like Star Trek or Star Wars, is asking someone to compare apples and oranges.

And I’ve played enough Apples to Apples to know – it’s much more fun to compare apples to apples.

Comic Movie Trailers: Who’s Winning Now?

If you’re the DC movie universe, it’s all been building up to this: Justice League, scheduled to come out this November. Their movie universe has had a rocky go of it so far, starting like it did with a contentious movie – Man of Steel – which then had an even further polarizing sequel – Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of JusticeSuicide Squad basically played out a scene based on the opening credits scroll of Monty Python and the Holy Grail: hastily redone at the last minute and at great expense.

Possibly with fewer llamas.

They’re powering forward, with their next film, Wonder Woman, looking like it should be fantastic (click here for the latest trailer).


Meanwhile, on the other side, you have this summer’s Spider-Man Homecoming, the third Spider-Man in a decade, and what seems like it should be a really bad spot for Sony – a desperate ploy to make money and keep the rights to this character. However, by teaming up with the MCU and combining universe, this project has gained a lot of confidence. Certainly, the first appearance of this new Spider-Man in Civil War was received well. The first trailer looked cool, plus it has Iron Man!


Anyway, as you may have seen, there was a trailer for both of these films out in the last few days… and then I saw this meme.

What do you think – did Spider-Man Homecoming leave Justice League in the dust? Here’s both trailers for you to watch, then let me know what you think in the comments below!

How Are They Going to Pull Off… A Matrix Reboot

The news has been circulating lately, and I’ve been mulling over it. A Matrix reboot or remake. Huh.

It seems definitely like – while remake might be what we would expect with everything Hollywood has been doing these days – reboot is the more likely route they will go. So not restarting the franchise, but simply dipping back into it. Here’s several articles on the news:

I am unapologetic in the fact that I really like the Matrix trilogy. I think in part I felt a strong connection between the films and the Dune book series, and it felt like the Wachowskis trying to work their way through the themes of the books – much like I was doing myself at the time. I think it was with these films that I coined my often-used phrase, “Just Like Dune.”

But that means the films felt like, for lack of a better term, fandom to me. Fellow travelers in a Dune fandom. But somewhere along the line, I also picked up some Matrix aesthetic (I still love my long black coat), and in writing this post I now have “Mona Lisa Overdrive” stuck in my head – I absolutely loved the music.

The Matrix Reloaded is still one of my go-to pop-in-and-watch movies, though I typically start it roughly when they head back into the Matrix to find the Oracle, and often stop it before reaching the Architect. This skips some of the stronger like-Dune aspects but is just action and effects fun.

All of which is to say… returning to this world? Possibly without the Wachowskis? Disconnected from the plot and characters we know? How do you build a new movie in the Matrix universe? There are only a couple of really big reveals, and it seems like those are already covered. So let’s consider a few things.

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Audio

Logan – Comparative Opinions Episode 39

Welcome to the Comparative Opinions podcast! This week, hosts David and Holly finally made it to see Logan! Spoilers abound as they gush about this excellent film. Let us know what you thought of Logan!

Comparative Opinions is a weekly half-hour-ish podcast hosted on ComparativeGeeks.com. Subscribe for new episodes every Sunday!

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Music is by Scott Gratton: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Scott_Gratton/Intros_and_Outros