The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007)
Directed by: David L. Cunningham
Premise: Will, a teenage boy (Alexander Ludwig) finds that he is a warrior chosen by fate and by bloodline to defend the Earth by locating six magical amulets and use their combined power to combat the forces of darkness.
What Works: In its best moments, The Seeker combines fantasy with coming-of-age scenarios like family conflicts and adolescent anxiety. The highlights of the film are found mostly in its lead actor, Alexander Ludwig. He does his best to make the character believable and scattered throughout the film are small moments where Ludwig is able to add humor and some intelligence to the role. The film is also successful in conceiving some of its fantasy visuals, using unusual camera set ups and other cinematic tricks to create a unique visual style.
What Doesn’t: The Seeker falls into the same traps as other mediocre fantasy films such as repeating dialogue and scenarios and substituting that for character growth. The Seeker constantly repeats itself with Ludwig’s adolescent warrior doubting he can complete his mission, then being prompted on by his mentor (Ian McShane) while being subject to empty threats by the evil Rider (Christopher Eccleston). While this pattern repeats, Will does not grow as a leader and a lot of what should be heroic action is minimized by a lack of volition. He is always thrown into the situation rather than consciously choosing to go on this quest, and Will is often either bailed out of his situation by one his mentor figures or he discovers one of the amulets when they fall in front of his face. A lot of the dialogue of the film is stock fantasy garble, with talk of obligations and rites, but The Seeker never gets down to anything palatable. There are strands in the film that could lead to something that would add weight and jeopardy to Will’s journey such as his relationship with his brothers and father (John Benjamin Hickey) and his lust over a local girl (Amelia Warner) who may be more than she seems. But The Seeker lets this all go in favor of jerking the audience from one repetitious fantasy sequence to another. The film is further hurt by the underwritten villain who never really comes into conflict with the hero until the very end and by then it’s too late.
Bottom Line: The Seeker: The Dark is Rising is better than a lot of the recent fantasy films like Dragon Wars or Eragon but it’s not at all exceptional. Actor Alexander Ludwig shows promise but hopefully he didn’t sign a sequel clause in his contract for this film.
Episode: N/A (October 21, 2007)