The Seeker - The Dark is Rising (2007)

Actors: Alexander Ludwig, Christopher Eccleston, Ian McShane, Frances Conroy, James Cosmo
David L. Cunningham
AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
English, French, Spanish
All Regions
Aspect Ratio:
Number of discs:
20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date:
March 18, 2008
Run Time:
94 minutes



Practically all Fantasy stories have a quest, a plot convention that tends to make them all extended travelogues. In the Lord of the Rings it is of course the ring. In The Seeker - The Dark is Rising it is the "signs" which will defend" the Light against the Dark. Or something like that . . .

We mention this because Hollywood has its own quest, namely to find a Fantasy property that could be the next Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter and will make a gazillion dollars for them. Last year the much-hyped Golden Compass movie based on the celebrated children's books by Philip Pullman didn't exactly turn out to be the next Lord of the Rings for New Line, the studio that made such a killing out of Tolkien's trilogy. Instead it turned out to be a major box office disappointment studio for the studio and it seems unlikely that any sequels will be made.

The same goes for The Seeker - The Dark is Rising (awkward title), which turned out to be a mere blip on 2007?s movie radar for Walden, the studio that produced the more lucrative Chronicles of Narnia adaptation. Based on the second novel of a series of dated children's novels by Susan Cooper (the first one was published in 1973), Walden were probably hoping that the series would become the new Harry Potter. After all, the two have much in common: on his fourteenth birthday a boy discovers that he has magical powers and must defeat a dark villain.

It was alas not be. The movie did poorly at the U.S. box office and it is unlikely that any further novels in the series would be filmed.

The movie is mediocre at best. Running at a brisk 90 minutes it is sort of abject lesson on how Hollywood would have handled the Harry Potter books if they weren't as popular and the studios bent over backwards to please mega-rich author J.K. Rowling. Here the hero is turned into a Yank and the focus is on the action, unlike the Harry Potter movies which boasted longer running times and more completely immersed audiences into Rowling's fantasy world.

Director David L. Cunningham however has no trust in his source material it seems. (Or perhaps it was the studio. On the DVD?s special features he tells how they made him drop one character and subplot he felt rather strongly about.) Dark is Rising is like Harry Potter for ADD sufferers. Cunningham pulls out all the stylistic stops to make the material more interesting than he probably believes it is: skewed camera angles, slow motion shots, TV advertisement-style lighting ? you name it. All set to an endlessly restless orchestral score. The result is a bit of an overcooked mess.

Part of the problem is that The Seeker should have been called The Stumbler, as he just sort of accidentally stumbles across the signs he's supposed to be finding. It all seems rather arbitrary and this results in a second half of the movie consisting of fragmented action scenes. Little time is spent on niceties such as characterization and actual plot development. Instead we get a lot of slow motion shots.

On the plus side, the special effects are okay and to be honest, The Seeker isn't bad. Just decidedly average. Thirteen-year-olds with serious Potter withdrawal symptoms at whom the movie is aimed at ought to enjoy it.

THE DISC: Some more time spent on the plot and characterization would have benefited Dark is Rising. Alas the deleted scenes provided on the disc shows that this wasn't particularly director Cunningham's top priority. The deleted scenes taken on the own also reveals a major weakness of the movie: it is overcooked stylistically and seldom actually involving.

IN SHORT: Mediocre Harry Potter Lite.



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