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3 reviews, 7 user ratings

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Seeker: The Dark is Rising, The
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by Peter Sobczynski

"The Boredom Is Rising"
1 stars

I am positive that virtually every review of the children’s fantasy “The Seeker: The Dark is Rising” is going to compare it to the Harry Potter films and I am here to tell you that such comparisons are terribly unfair. Okay, I guess it is slightly similar in that this, like the Potter saga, is a fantasy in which magical worlds seem to co-exist with the reality of contemporary London and a seemingly ordinary boy discovers that he has extraordinary powers and is taken under the wing of a group of magical types (all played by recognizable character actors) in order to prepare him for battle against a fearsome and seemingly unstoppable enemy–an enemy who, by the way, has already unsuccessfully tangled with our hero when he was just an infant and who doesn’t plan on making the same mistakes a second time. However, there are two powerful and fundamental differences between the two. For one, while the Potter tales are true originals that demonstrate the seemingly bottomless imagination of author J.K. Rowling, this one cribs not only from Potter but also from “Star Wars,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “The Talisman” and countless other fantasy epics. The second is that the Potter films have all been excellent entertainments that are equally satisfying to young and old audiences alike while this one plays more like someone decided to do a feature-length homage to the infamous KISS concept album “(Music From) The Elder.”

The film stars Alexander Ludwig as Will Stanton, a young kid who has recently moved from America to England with his large family. After a series of weird events begin to occur to him, Will is informed by oddball neighbors Merriman Lyon (Ian McShane) and Miss Greythorne (Frances Conroy) that he the last of the Old Ones, an ancient line of warriors who have been charged with defending the world from the forces of darkness, represented here by the malevolent Rider (Christopher Eccleston), with the power of light. If that weren’t enough, Will is then told that as The Seeker, he has but five days to uncover six hidden signs that, when brought together, will give him the power to defeat Darkness or else the entire world will be destroyed. Once he agrees, Will begins jumping through time and into parallel dimensions in order to find the signs while the Rider uses all of the powers at his disposals–mostly a cold wave, a cute babe (Amelia Walker) and the brief possession of a beloved older brother (Gregory Smith)–in a battle that ends (Spoiler Alert!) with the good guys prospering while the bad guys go down in flames in a manner that offers up some form of triumph while leaving the door open for any highly unlikely future instalments.

The film is based on a novel by Susan Cooper and while I will cheerfully admit to having not read it, a quick perusal of the film’s IMDB page suggests that the original story has been much altered in its trip to the silver screen–the hero is no longer British, many battle scenes have been added and parallels between the story and the legend of King Arthur (I learn that in the books, Merriman turns out to be Merlin the Magician himself) have been completely eliminated, presumably because the powers-that-be behind the film concluded that kids would have no interest in a film featuring a British kid and Arthurian lore. I’m not saying that the film would have been better if these elements had been retained but it certainly would have been more interesting that the dreary drag that we have been given instead. The storyline is confusing instead of compelling–if I can’t figure out what is going on, what chance is there of a young child puzzling it out?–the action scenes are lifelessly staged, director David Cunningham spends more time attempting to ape the visual style of Terry Gilliam (lots of oddball angles) than in telling his story in a coherent manner and our “hero” is the kind of blandly anonymous twerp that you used to see in the dark days of Disney live-action films from the 1970's.

The only sparks of life in the entire production come from Ian McShane, who has a strong enough personality to make his scenes worth watching just for his commanding presence, and from the large number of unintentional laughs on display, such as the inescapable fact that Frances Conroy has been dressed and made up in such a way that makes her look like a cross between Truman Capote and Tom Petty in the video for “Don’t Come Around Here No More.” Outside of these brief respites, “The Seeker” is a drag from start to finish and its only major achievement is that it will unite young and old audiences alike in a feeling of paralyzing boredom while making them wish that they had gone to see “Stardust” instead.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15562&reviewer=389
originally posted: 10/05/07 07:47:34
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User Comments

12/20/19 dupadoit alleluia 4 stars
12/14/08 g Complete abomination to the novel 1 stars
10/06/08 Cat Smith Utter crap, and very little do to with the actual books. 1 stars
2/03/08 Advantus Little scary for the kids but a lot of fun for the adults. Good Light vs Dark scenario. 4 stars
12/13/07 William Goss Can't help but play like a hodge-podge of every other fantasy tale ever told. 2 stars
10/09/07 susan This movie bears no resemblance to what was a wonderful series of books. 2 stars
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  05-Oct-2007 (PG)
  DVD: 18-Mar-2008



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