Review by Vives Anunciacion
Inquirer Libre October 19, 2007
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
Directed by David L. Cunningham
Based on the book by Susan Cooper
20th Century Fox
There’s virtually unlimited information available on the Net, which is where I got my 4-1-1 on the (here) little-known The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper. Published in the 1960s, the children’s books are about the battle between good (light) and evil (dark) based on the Arthurian legends set in the British Isles.
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising is the first movie based on Cooper’s series, which follows the emergence of the Seeker, a guardian and warrior of the Light tasked to find the circle of six Signs to be used in the battle against the Dark.
The Seeker in the movie is Will Stanton (a very Aryan-type Alexander Ludwig) – the seventh and youngest son of a seventh son – whose American family just recently relocated to rural England. A few days before Christmas, Will is about to celebrate his normal teenage 14th birthday when the mysterious Merriman (Ian McShane) tells him that he is the chosen Seeker who must find the six Signs within five days or else the Dark will envelope the world.
Will, Merriman and a group of other Light warriors known as the Old Ones then travel back and forth through time collecting the Signs in order to restore the power of the Light and defend the world against the Dark. One by one, Will manages to find the Signs in time for the showdown against the ultimate baddie, the Dark Rider (Christopher Eccleston), but as always with youth adventures, not before a few obstacles he must endure.
As far as the movie goes, it’s a little bit of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings and Hardy Boys put together, but from what I gather from Wikipedia the books are largely different from the movie, which isn’t always the case with children’s fantasy adaptations. Most interesting is the movie’s large departure from the book’s Arthurian themes (unless they were so subtle no one outside London can recognize them.)
Unlike Narnia or Potter which manage to explain why the bad guys want to inherit the earth, The Seeker wants its audience to take the Old Ones and the Dark Rider for granted, because the better movie is intended for the expected sequel. Ah, but the problem is whether there will be enough interest in the Seeker left for the audience to wait for part 2. Technically though the movie is decent.
While Will was properly presented to struggle between being a normal kid and being a magical Seeker with a few supernatural powers, the search for the Signs itself was almost effortless to the point that they render Will’s heroics stale and uneventful.
Ludwig as Will is a capable normal kid, but not so much as the Seeker especially in the final battle scene with the Dark Rider. The Old Ones don’t do much in the movie, which means the audience can care less about them.
Interestingly, Will learns about the battle between Light and Dark not from the Old Ones but from a successful Google search. I wonder if he would have found the Signs sooner if he Googled them as well.