THE SEEKER: THE DARK IS RISING
**1/2 (out of 5)
October 7, 2007
Alexander Ludwig as WILL STANTON
Christopher Eccleston as THE RIDER
Ian McShane as MERRIMAN LYON
Frances Conroy as MISS GREYTHORNE
James Cosmo as DAWSON
Jim Piddock as OLD GEORGE
Amelia Warner as MAGGIE BARNES
Directed by: David L. Cunningham
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I should have seen this coming. Once “Harry Potter” and “The Lord of the Rings” films because uber-successes, I should have known that Hollywood would mine the juvenile literary world for every fantasy novel that could be made into a film. It reminds me of the late 1970s when every studio was churning out crappy science fiction after “Star Wars” made it big.
Last year, we were given “Eragon,” a dragon remake of the aforementioned “Star Wars.” Now, we’ve been given “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising.” It’s not as creatively vacuous as “Eragon” was, but the film isn’t anything to write home about either.
“The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” tells the story of a fourteen year old American boy named Will (Alexander Ludwig) living in England. On his birthday, he discovers that he has special powers, and several immortal guardians in his village start to train him with these powers. He learns that he is the “Seeker,” which is a gifted person who can find amulets – known as “signs” – that will guard against dark forces taking over the world.
As Will learns more about his powers, including the ability to create fire and to time travel, he is confronted by the Rider (Christopher Eccleston), the leader of the dark forces. Will must retrieve all of the signs before the Rider can get his hands on them.
If I were a twelve-year-old child, I would have loved this film. It has all the elements of a classic fantasy cross-over, and it speaks directly to that age range. However, as an adult, I saw too many plot holes and goofy character actions.
There’s just too many strange things that happen in this film that have no explanation… Why does no one notice that Will was blowing up cars with his new gift of fire? Why is no one bothered by the sudden weather changes in town with the Rider starts taking over? How was Will’s father involved with the Rider in the past? Why has none of Will’s older brothers told him about his mysterious missing twin?
A lot of these questions lead me to believe there are acceptable answers in the original book (which I have not read). I’ll chalk up these problems to a poor adaptation and assume that the screenwriter tried to cram too many plot points into the script with no explanation and too much relevance.
In addition to substandard scriptwriting, “The Seeker” has some of the strangest cinematography I’ve seen in a major motion picture. I wouldn’t go as far to say it is innovative, but rather annoying. It’s like the guy watched “Transformers” and decided to take the camera movement to a whole new level. Think Michael Bay cinematography on crack, and you’ll have an idea. Instead of just using odd angles and dutching the frame, at times the picture literally is turned upside down or spun to a dizzying degree.
As children’s fantasy goes, “The Seeker” is okay for the younger viewers – like a big budget version of something I would have watched on Saturday morning. The special effects are decent, but nothing fantastic. Ultimately, the poor writing, ridiculously predictable twists and rocky characterization make it a little hard to watch for an adult.