There have been lots of Harry Potter rip-offs in recent years, though among all of the Golden Compasses and Spiderwick Chronicles and Eragons that have been touted as "best-selling classics", only a couple series have truly been as revered as what the marketing campaigns suggest. One such series is Susan Cooper's "The Dark is Rising."
The second of the "Dark is Rising" books, adapted into a movie titled The Seeker: The Dark is Rising, is about a young boy named Will (Alexander Ludwig) who learns that he has powers to combat evil, the Dark, and it is his duty to seek and protect four Things of Power that, when combined together, could provide the Light with enough strength to properly combat their adversaries.
While The Seeker is based upon a popular, good-versus-evil book, it faced several obstacles that eventually led to its flopping at the box office. While the book was written nearly four decades before Harry Potter, it rings a little too close to the more well-known franchise. Elements of the story are a bit too close to ignore, and the Harry Potter franchise handles those elements much better. Furthermore, the series isn't nearly as well known as The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, and, in my opinion, not nearly as good, either. Lastly, this film adaptation is just dreadful.
The Seeker is about as exciting as an amateur curling match, and lacks the cohesive narrative, special effects and action to make it memorable in this day and age. Filled with uninteresting characters doing uninteresting things, The Seeker is a dud of a fantasy kid's film. The action consists of a boring kid who jumps around in time with a bunch of boring adults looking for several objects to fight a bunch of boring evil things. The movie is directed by David L. Cunningham, who is clearly out of his league with his first mainstream film; The Seeker is clunky, uninspiring and a waste of time.
The best part of these kinds of stories are the scenes that focus on the protagonist's discovery that he has special powers; while Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone focused heavily on the sense of discovery and magic, Cunningham is unable to evoke that same kind of excitement from Cooper's material. Pretty much, the movie has a bunch of people telling Will that he has special powers, Will complaining that he can't fly, and Will going back in time to quickly gather a bunch of objects for some reason or another. There is no cohesive story to follow, antagonist to hate or tension to enjoy, and that's a problem.
I was never a big fan of Cooper's series, but I was expecting a lot more from The Seeker. Amazingly, the film defies all potential and ends up being flat, emotionless and unexciting. If done right, I believe this story could actually be quite good, but I would expect another ten or twenty years to pass by before any studio attempts to do this one again. The Seeker is a big disaster by any standards.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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