The Seeker: The Dark is Rising

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Will Stanton discovers on his fourteenth birthday that as the seventh son of a seventh son he is destined to seek…magic…things which will stop the Dark from overtaking the world.

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David L. Cunningham, 2005

This movie astonishingly average, muddled from script to screen, and I honestly still don’t know what most of the movie was about, let alone what was going on from one scene to the next.  It’s based on one in a series of novels written in 1973 by Susan Cooper, but that book won awards and is apparently based on Arthurian legends which, unless I missed something (entirely probable) is not the case in the film.  I can only imagine the books must have been much clearer and better explained than this mess.  The movie was released in 2005, pretty clearly to capitalise on the success of Harry Potter, but it pretty much flopped, for good reason.

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(Look at that poster.  Do you know what’s going on there?  Me neither.  Welcome to this movie.  Also, in further support of it being a Harry Potter rip-off, they pulled two relatively random characters from the movie to make it look like there was a Golden Trio.)

The main character, Will, is American for no apparent reason (perhaps to help American audiences associate with him better?) and has a large family who are largely interchangable.  He seems like a nice enough kid until he finds out that THE FATE OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE RESTS ON HIM!  After that he jumps through time (and then returns to the middle of a crowd scene, which is enormously confusing at first), gets some powers he does very little with apart from having fiery temper tantrums, and finds these six signs because…they’ll help him win somehow.  Ian McShane attempts to explain this.  I attempt, and fail, to care.  The performances are stiff, but given what they’re working with and the fact that nobody seems to really understand what’s going on apart from some nifty-looking action set pieces, that’s hardly surprising.  The only person who seems to be having any fun is Christopher Eccleston as the evil “rider”, who brings a kind of gleeful abandon to his character, shifting from mild-mannered English bow tie-wearing doctor (lol) to evil witch Nazgul guy easily.

I don’t know whether it was just the TV, but the sound mixing was very odd in this movie.  Everything seemed to be at the same volume, which made the dialogue hard to hear, causing the movie to be even more confusing.  Perhaps this was intentional, as even when I heard the dialogue I didn’t really understand it.  Even in visual execution the film was confusing – a lot of whirling cameras and switching from quick to slow-mo, possibly to hide the fact that a lot of what’s going on is kinda lame.  It didn’t even really seem to have a visual plan.  Things waving in the wind look pretty!  Let’s do more of that!  This woman is snakes!  Pump up the contrast!  Special effects for no reason, whee!  You don’t really feel a connection to Will or between Will and anyone else, leaving a last-minute plot twist kind of flat.  They appear to have thrown money at this to see where it would stick.

What could have been an intriguing fantasy world just…isn’t, and doesn’t make any sense in this confusing effort.  I’d have rated it higher if I thought anyone even made it because they loved the source novel, but as it’s a pretty transparent attempt to surf the Harry Potter money wave, it’s not even well-intended.  Also, fun fact: the lead kid played Cato, the District Two tribute in The Hunger Games.

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising on IMDb

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