PSA: The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007), or You Can Be Whiny, Bitchy, Ineffectual, And, Of Course, Step Through Time

16 08 2009

Side Note: I hate it when Ian McShane says that line, “Through time.” What a cock-slap to the face… He might as well have just told me a knock-knock joke…

I’ve seen a bunch of bad family movies on this site, but few have ever intrigued me as much as today’s feature. There’s something so off about it. It’s not anything to do with the B-list and C-List cast, the underwhelming special effects, or the uneventful and inane plot, although that is somewhat of a problem. What really sets The Seeker: The Dark is Rising apart from every other movie is its insistence on legitimacy. It really, truly thinks it is just as good as the big boy book-to-movie fantasy franchises like The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia. It isn’t, of course, although it certainly had potential, and now it sits as a curious oddity with no following and no hope of revival anytime soon. It had the right elements; outcast protagonist, cool powers, wondrous locales, and a vibe that was straight out of La Morte D’Arthur. It’s a shame, because it could have been a kids series I could actually get behind, but they really screwed the pooch on this one.

Okay, it’s all about the trials and tribulations of young Will Stanton. He’s got problems at home due to his inattentive parents, problems at school because of his crippling shyness, and problems all around because he’s a teenager, and we all know how hard they have it. But all that’s about to change, because two important things happen to him in a relatively short amount of time; namely his birthday. First, he is contacted by a mysterious group hiding in the small British community he lives in called the Old Ones. They tell him that as of his 14th birthday, he is one of them, and not only that, but he is the most important member, known as the Seeker. His job is to collect the power of light by seeking the signs. He needs to find the power of the light because that same day he is approached and challenged by a man known as The Rider. He tells him that soon, the world will be shrouded in a darkness of his own design that it will never shirk off. To stop this from happening, Will must find the signs and use the power of the light to defeat the Rider. The problem is that they are not only scattered throughout the world, but they are scattered through time. Young Will must use his new-found powers of time-traveling to seek the source of the light’s power throughout the ages. But can he do it in time to save the world? Or is it already too late?

And me describing it is about as cool as this movie gets. Because apparently a lot is lost in the translation of this novel by Susan Cooper. The fun, for example, is nowhere to be found. I don’t know who took it or where it went, but for a kids film, there is almost no fun to be found. From what I’ve heard, the books are very, very good for the age group they are written for. But with this film I feel like there was A LOT taken out or changed for one reason or another. Things don’t always add up, some important sequences feel rushed, and everything has this incredible urgency to make it in as close to 90 minutes as possible.

How long do you think it is before Will starts using his powers? Well, he steps through time within the first day of figuring all this out; that’s how fast. Through TIME. It’s kind of a big deal, but the movie treats it like it’s the lamest power he has, even though its the one power that actually worth a damn and its the power he uses the most. He’s supposed to be able to control fire and have super-strength, but you wouldn’t know that from this movie, where he maybe uses each of those abilities once. From how nonchalantly everyone treats this amazing, super-useful ability, maybe everyone in the world can do this, but I happen to think that is pretty fucking cool.

And whenever they do go back in time, that’s a VERY liberal use of the phrase “time-travel” I’m employing. You see, it’s more like they gussy up the modern-day version of wherever they’re at with bales of hay and antiquated weaponry and tools. They never travel outside of the one town, so it’s not like Will has to look incredibly hard to save the world, which makes his input significantly less impressive to me. Apparently the power of the light was important enough to hide from The Rider, but not important enough to move more than 500 yards away from Will’s house.

I despise the cast, and I especially despise Ian McShane for showing up in order to collect a paycheck. I know that hair grease is an expensive commodity for a man like him, but that’s no excuse for just half-assing it. He’s so bored here, and he repeats the same lines of dialog every five minutes: “Will, you’re special.” “You’re the seventh son of a seventh son.” “You’re the Seeker, Will.” “Through time.” What a paper-chaser. At least he actually earned his money in the equally-disappointing outing of The Golden Compass. Alexander Ludwig didn’t fit the character of a stocky 11 year old as Will, so they of course decided to make it illogical and turned him into a 14 year old kid who is picked on all the time even though he is physically a young jock and a heart-breaker. I won’t blame him for taking the money, either, but I do blame him for not making the character his own. He could’ve given Will more of a personality since he already changed his personal appearance, but instead he’s a cold fish who seems like people leave him alone for a reason. It makes it a chore to like him when it really shouldn’t be. And Christopher Eccleston as The Rider? Shame on you. You should know better. This was trash, and you knew it. But you have a history of appearing in crap, don’t you, Mr. Eccleston?

What a waste. And the delicious tragedy is that they were TOTALLY grooming this to be the foundation for a franchise. There were plenty of other books from The Dark is Rising sequence to plunder, and it was only a matter of time before they got a similar treatment. But this was a major disappointment for everyone involved, both financially and aesthetically (this movie is in second-place for the worst wide-release opening of all time!!!), so any plans of that happening were scrapped. Now it’s just a petulent little pretender at the video store, pretending it has value and putting on airs. The Seeker: The Dark is Rising had something going for it, but that thing, whatever it was has been lost… through time. I give The Seeker: The Dark is Rising 2 seventh sons of seventh sons out of 10. Boo.

Tomorrow we take on ANOTHER potential-franchise killer when I watch Eragon! Until then!!!

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