CJSF programmer, Irma Arkus takes in the first film from the Dark is Rising novels by Susan Cooper.
As a first installment of what is potentially a lucrative franchise based on Susan Cooper’s novels, the film The Seeker: The Dark is Rising begs a comparison to Harry Potter. This, of course, is damning, because Potter films and book franchise allows for the kind of funding that in reality only Peter Jackson would deserve. Let’s just say, that it is an unfair starting point.
The Seeker is a special child, an inheritor of special powers of the Ancients of Light, who has to find six signs of power in order to defeat the rising powers of Darkness. The trick, though, is that the signs are buried in time, and the Seeker must venture through variety of adventures to uncover them. There is a sense of urgency, as The Rider of Darkness, played by Christopher Eccleston, is approaching, gaining strength and threatening the world as we know it. Will must confront his traps and challenges, and gain the powers of the Light, ultimately meant to help him defeat Darkness in a final battle.
The Seeker has received a bit of peculiar treatment by the screenplay writer John Hodge, whose hand has brought us such hits as Trainspotting, A Life Less Ordinary, and The Beach. For some reason, trying to mount Cooper’s creation onto a two hour feature, proved to be no easy task for Hodge, as various bits and pieces of the novel were shuffled, changed, or lost, making me once again painfully aware of the fact that some things should really go the miniseries way, rather than large screen releases.
As a result, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising suffers from fragmented story-telling, trying to squeeze in forcefully too many events and too many characters that never truly get a lot of screen time, and thus suffer from severe underdevelopment.
David L. Cunningham does not fail as a director, but does not win the audience either. The film itself is very rich in visual cues and colours, and his keen eye for subjects allows Will to be captured as a conflicted character. On the other hand, few minor visual distractions were enough to tear me away.
If you are a fan of The Seeker novels, then by all means this film is for you. If you are a parent, this would make for an excellent way to spend some time in the cinema. For the rest of us though, renting a DVD after reading the novels, might be a better way to spend our money and time.