Our young hero is Will Shanton (Alexander Ludwig). Will is your average awkward teen struggling to fit in after his father's job forced the family to move overseas from America to England. He's just turned 14, and has also just discovered that he's part of a prophecy that he never knew about. Supposedly, thousands of years ago, there was a great battle between the forces of Light and Darkness for control of the world. Light won out in the end, but Dark is vying to make a comeback. The Dark is represented by a villain called The Rider (Christopher Eccleston), named so because he rides around on horseback. The Rider keeps on appearing before our young hero, and sending demonic mall security guards and evil grannies who can summon snakes after him. He claims to be looking for "the Signs", but Will doesn't know what he's talking about. Fortunately, there are some people to help explain Will's destiny, and explain the plot (but do little else). They represent the "Light", and inform Will that he is the "Seeker", and that only he has the power to seek out six Signs - powerful artifacts from the past that hold the fate of the world. As the Seeker, Will gains various powers including super strength and traveling through time, of which only the time travel one seems to be of any use to him in his search.
All the ingredients are here for a fun fantasy adventure, but The Seeker: The Dark is Rising doesn't even seem interested in itself. This movie has such a shocking lack of wonder and whimsy, two things all fantasy adventures must have. The incredible keeps on showing its face throughout the story, but the movie forgets to allow the characters to react or even respond to it. At one point, Will's younger sister discovers her brother's power first hand when she accidentally travels through time with him. How does she react to this? She doesn't. She finds herself transported thousands of years in the past in the middle of a battle, and all she cares about is that she rescued a kitten from the battlefield. She doesn't even ask her brother what's going on, nor does she ever bring it up again in a later scene. She does, however, keep on clutching to that little kitten she found for the rest of the movie. I guess time travel, super powers, and the fate of the world itself just can't hold a candle to the adorableness of a kitty cat.
The storytelling employed here is of the most basic and episodic quality. Things happen out of sheer coincidence or dumb luck. I mean, what are the odds that all of these Signs Will is supposed to be looking for all seem to be within a three mile radius from his house? He doesn't so much "seek" these things out, rather he stumbles upon them. He goes to church for Sunday service, and wow, there's one of the Signs he's looking for! Whatever the case, can it really be qualified as an adventure if the hero is hardly forced to leave his own house? For all the characters' talk of prophecies and darkness destroying the world, everyone in this movie sure seems to be taking it in stride. They even still have time to celebrate Christmas, even the ones who know the world could end in five days.
For all its mistakes, The Seeker is not without some merit. The opening moments has a mysterious atmosphere, and got me interested before the movie decided to brush off its own explanations. It's kind of like finding a beautifully wrapped package, opening it, and finding a ball of lint inside. It's at least interesting before the disappointment hits. The first 20 minutes or so have hope and the promise of wonder, then the movie just kind of craps out and loses interest in itself. It's odd to think that The Seeker is more comfortable dealing with the ordinary rather than the extraordinary. If the people behind this film were behind the Harry Potter series, the "Muggle" world would be more interesting than Hogwarts. I don't think I even have to explain what would be wrong with that picture.
The Seeker: The Dark is Rising is based on a very famous children's novel by Susan Cooper. I have not read this book, but I have a feeling that this adaptation is missing what made the story so interesting in the first place. Here is a story that cries out for the fantastic, and gives us people who don't even seem to notice it. Those kind of people don't deserve to inhabit a story like this. We need a hero who shares our sense of wonder. All we get with Will is someone who discovers he has the power to change the world, and says "that's nice", then walks away.