“The Dark Tower,” Stephen King’s eight-volume series about a futuristic gunslinger, a time-traveling teenager named Jake and the personification of death — named Walter — is the kind of concoction that never would have made it to print without King’s track record of bestsellers-cum-Hollywood-hits like “The Shining,” “Carrie” and “Firestarter.” A free-associative epic that brings in elements of fantasy, science fiction and cowboy mythology, “The Dark Tower” is King’s version of “Ulysses” or “Gravity’s Rainbow,” a work of hugely complicated symbolism that, in the end, will always resonate most strongly for its author.

Those readers who have followed King down his 4,000-page rabbit hole will probably be the only folks patient enough to sit through Nikolaj Arcel’s 95-minute cinematic abridgment. Despite two fine actors in key roles, and the efforts of a four-man screenwriting team to strip King’s story down to its basics, “The Dark Tower” still makes virtually no sense, even by the rules of its own world(s).

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It’s never explained, for instance, why a gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), would be roaming a post-apocalyptic world that resembles Earth. Why is it Roland’s job to stop Walter O’Dim, otherwise known as The Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), from destroying The Dark Tower that holds the universe together? Why does all of this unfold in the dreams of a modern-day New York City teen, Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor)? And who invented the portals that allow Jake to travel between worlds (or eras)?

There is only one answer, which is that King thought these ideas were cool. And because this movie can’t explain it any better than that, here is where the die-hard fan and the casual moviegoer must part ways. Not everyone will be willing to sit through all of this simply because someone bothered to create it.

Whenever “The Dark Tower” nearly gets away with its absurdities, it’s usually because of McConaughey’s Man in Black. A flippant force of evil who barely even bothers to enjoy his victims’ suffering, he is definitely a villain you can hate. That’s a little something to cling to. Otherwise, “The Dark Tower” feels like a long walk through someone else’s illogical dream-world — and it’s not even clear you are wanted there.