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Movie Review: The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising

The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising
Directed by David L. Cunningham
Written by John Hodge based on the novel by Susan Cooper

Last year we saw the aftermath of the Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia craze when 20th Century Fox adapted Eragon, a bestseller part of a planned series that hasn’t even been completed yet. And the movie was pure slumming, looking for that quick buck off the fantasy freight train. This is the price you pay when a genre is going through a bright period; everything the studios can get their hands on will be turned into a movie and you’re going to get some duds.

So, what a wonderful introduction to The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising, right? Yeah, this is more bad filmmaking, mostly because it’s a pretty annoying trip. Hey, maybe the kiddies will like it (although there are a couple of sequences a bit too scary for the young’uns), but movie buffs will likely find this irritating.

In The Seeker, Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig) is part of a big family with a whole horde of brothers (Gregory Smith of Everwood, twins Edmund and Gary Entin, Drew Tyler Bell) and a sister (Emma Lockhart). He’s turning 14, and he’s beginning to notice girls like Maggie (Amelia Warner), who looks like she has a crush on him, too. A group called The Old Ones (Ian McShane, Frances Conroy, James Cosmo, Jim Piddock) are taking a keen interest, for Will is about to possess awesome powers and become The Seeker, the one who will find The Signs (hidden in time) that will enable the forces of Light to conquer the rising power of The Dark, here known as The Rider, played by Christopher Eccleston.

The Rider will apparently have full power at the end of the week, and Will has to find all the Signs before he does, or well, you know. The Rider also has a secret accomplice; secret to everyone who has never seen a movie before.

I was willing to go along with this for awhile. There’s a good setup to a scary scene with some security guards who aren’t really security guards. But then the exposition came in, and I began to get uncomfortable. You hear respected actors throw out some awful been-there-done-that backstory: The Forces of Dark and Light had an epic battle and Light won, blah, blah, blah…Some dude wanted to ensure that the forces of Light had weapons that the Dark couldn’t get to, so he hid them where only The Seeker can find them…yawn. I mean, this is Night Watch for kids.

And Christopher Eccleston, who earned his nerd cred with Doctor Who and Heroes, unfortunately has to say a hundred times throughout the movie, “My power is rising but The Seeker is finding all the Signs!” and “Give me The Signs!” It has got to be one of the most grating performances I have ever witnessed, mostly due to his dialogue, which in addition to the over-repeated phrases, he has a bunch of narration-style talk: Now let water finish what ice started!

Plus, if The Seeker is the only one who can find The Signs, why was it necessary to hide them in the first place? Why not just keep them in one area so when the time comes, break glass in case of emergency? Or in this case, find The Seeker so he can locate them all at once, instead of this ridiculous going through time and jumping through hoops? Also, why doesn’t The Rider just kill The Seeker when he has so many chances to do so? If his power is rising, and no one can beat him without The Signs, why does he need them so badly? As they say, there’d be no movie if the characters didn’t have to do all this. And I’m kind of wishing there wasn’t right about now.

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