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  Seeker: The Dark is Rising, The I'll Just Open This Door
Year: 2007
Director: David L. Cunningham
Stars: Alexander Ludwig, Christopher Eccleston, Ian McShane, Frances Conroy, James Cosmo, Jim Piddock, Amelia Warner, John Benjamin Hickey, Wendy Crewson, Emma Lockhart, Drew Tyler Bell, Edmund Entin, Gary Entin, Gregory Smith, Jordan J. Dale, Geoff Bell
Genre: Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 2 votes)
Review: Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig) is about to turn fourteen in this rural English village that his parents and seven siblings have moved to for the sake of his father's new job. He doesn't feel as if he fits in there, and life at his new school could be better, although he is attracted to a slightly older girl there, Maggie (Amelia Warner) but doesn't think he will get anywhere with that relationship, if you could call it that. But Will is a special boy for reasons he cannot understand as yet, because he has been chosen by forces he is hitherto unaware of: the darkness is rising, and the light must make a stand or be lost forever...

Yes, it was yet another attempt to start a Harry Potter style franchise that would, in the hopes of the studio, go on to make a heap of cash for years to come. Unfortunately for them, they picked the wrong source material, or at least chose the wrong way to go about bringing it to the silver screen, because not only were the uninitiated able to see through its cynical marketing, but the fans of the Susan Cooper's original series of books were most unhappy about what had been done to their treasured stories. They should have learned from the Potters: keep as much of the novels as possible, and don't go changing too much.

Be slavish, in effect, something which the producers here failed to do, with financially disappointing results, not to mention artistically disappointing ones. What this was turned into was one of those fantasy movies where if someone in the know had simply sat down with the main character and had a chat with him about what the hell was going on, it would have all been over far more straightforwardly. As it was, Will had to bumble through as Ian McShane and his band of goodies kept their cards far too close to their chests, and he was in the position of seeking - for he is The Seeker, he is vaguely informed - some magic trinkets which he sticks in a belt he got for his birthday.

Which meant that this was another production which appeared to have been undertaken with both eyes on the lucrative computer games market, as Will is spirited away to various points in space and time whereupon he looks for the rotating squiggle and grabs it, giving him bonus points and a power-up or something. It's not as easy as that, of course, as there have to be baddies as well, and the chief of those is one called The Rider; he was played, on horseback (hence the name), by Christopher Eccleston in yet another of his dabbles in sci-fi or fantasy franchises, this being one which failed as opposed to, say, Doctor Who which went from strength to strength (once he'd left).

Eccleston is in a thankless role where his character is more interesting as his alter ego, the village doctor, than he is when he's swathed in black and sending swarms of crows zooming around the place. But then, any depth that you might have expected from the books is thrown out the window for some flatly unimaginative action sequences which ring as hollow as you'd think when the most investment we have in Will is that old cliché, that he is feeling neglected at home and doesn't have any friends at school so obviously this means he is destined for great things. Any child taking comfort in characters like this may be in for a letdown in real life, but it's their money, or their parents' money anyway, that the makers of The Dark is Rising have their sights set upon: this is so mechanical that you could write it yourself if you have a decent knowledge of the genre, i.e., if you'd seen the Potter series. Music by Christophe Beck.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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