Stephen King’s sprawling eight-novel magnum opus has been distilled down to a compact 93-minute movie that’s an amalgam of horror, fantasy and Western-movie elements. Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey and Tom Taylor star. Rating. 3 stars out of 4.

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“The Dark Tower,” Stephen King’s sprawling eight-novel magnum opus, has been distilled down to a compact 93-minute picture that’s an amalgam of horror, fantasy and Western-movie elements and is propelled by three powerful performances.

It’s a tale of wounded virtue in the persona of a mythical six-gun-toting character called the Gunslinger (a brooding Idris Elba) battling the satanic Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey, mixing remorselessness and an odd sense of geniality in his performance). Caught in the middle of the epic struggle between the two is a 14-year-old kid named Jake (Tom Taylor).

Jake, gifted with psychic powers, is the haunted centerpiece of “Tower,” papering his room with nightmare-inspired sketches of the Gunslinger, the Man in Black and the alternate universe where their warfare plays out. With deep-set, red-rimmed eyes, Taylor, a relative newcomer to feature films, provides an unsettling foretaste early on of the sense of deep disquiet that pervades the movie.

Movie Review ★★★  

‘The Dark Tower,’ with Idris Elba, Matthew McConaughey, Tom Taylor, Claudia Kim, Fran Kranz. Directed by Nikolaj Arcel, from a screenplay by Arcel, Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen, based on novels by Stephen King. 93 minutes. Rated PG-13 for thematic material Including sequences of gun violence and action. Several theaters.

The tower of the title is a magical structure that is the linchpin of the multiple worlds in which the story is set. McConaughey’s Man in Black aims to topple it and cast those worlds into chaos. Elba’s Gunslinger is the last surviving member of a league of warriors dedicated to the protection of the tower.

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The titular structure bears a not-accidental resemblance to Barad-dûr, the tower of Sauron from “The Lord of the Rings,” and the Gunslinger is a man in the mold of Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name. King has readily acknowledged those influences on his novels.

In the vast canon of King-derived movies, “Tower” belongs in the upper ranks.