Director: David L. Cunningham
Writers: John Hodge
Cinematographer: Joel Ransom
Starring: Alexander Ludwig, Ian McShane, Christopher Eccleston, Frances Conroy
Studio/Running Time: Twentieth Century Fox, 98 mins.
"I’ve looked under chairs
I’ve looked under tables
I’ve tried to find the key
To fifty million fables
They call me The Seeker."
-The Who “The Seeker”
It’s true that the greatness of a film depends much on the eye of the beholder
, but woe to the filmmaker, oftentimes, if said beholder is a book worm. Standing on its own, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising
makes for an okay evening of entertainment for the older grade schooler and even the jaded “I’ve seen it all” teenager. Regretfully, it could have been something more.
The film centers around a boy named Will (Alexander Ludwig) who learns that he alone must find the secret signs to defeat an evil threatening to consume the earth, and known only as The Dark. With a decent performance from the cast and some convincing effects, the film is sure to do well at the box office. But the devoted fans of Susan Cooper’s series of fantasy novels from which the film is adapted are already up in arms. As is often the case, the film is much different from the original story. For example, Will is now portrayed as an American in England as opposed to his British background in the book. Perhaps it was to avoid any comparisons to a certain Potter but if a book is so successful with its readers, then why even risk such changes?
The back story of the boy’s relationship with his numerous siblings starts out interestingly, but with the exception of a brother’s dalliance with the dark side, this subplot goes nowhere. Even when he learns that his father had once done research on the The Dark, Will does little to enlist his father’s help. Ian McShane, best known for his role as Swearengen in HBO’s Deadwood, plays one of the “old ones” who advises Will in his search. But his usually over-the-top style is reined in here, not advantageously.
Yes, it may be impossible to put an entire novel into a film. But Peter Jackson proved that you could take the best of a book and successfully present it as he did with three books in his creation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Those behind the making of The Seeker failed to learn from Jackson’s success.