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Rated 2.96 stars
by 632 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Sign of the Times
by Adam Hakari

Although the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings movies may be the supreme fantasy features of our generation, their imitators continue to come out of the woodwork. The latest example is The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising. Based on a book released long before Harry ever set foot at Hogwarts, this film represents the short end of the stick in terms of imagination and whimsy. 

Something strange is happening to Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig), an American kid still getting used to his family's big move to England. As Will's 14th birthday approaches, a number of peculiar instances take place. Pesky birds crowd around him, dogs start to growl at him, and he is able to summon great strength on a whim. A small group of noble immortals called the Old Ones tell Will he is fated to become the Seeker, an individual whose task it is to recover six "signs" which can be used to combat the Dark, a monstrous force that, if you haven't already figured out from the title, is indeed rising. The Dark wishes to possess the signs for its own nefarious plans, sending out a soldier called the Rider (Christopher Eccleston) to do whatever he can to take them out of Will's hands. Our young hero's quest ends up testing his own loyalty to the Old Ones while sending him on a journey across time itself.

I'm getting a teensy bit tired of the recent deluge of fantasy features. With so many characters fighting on the side of Good, don't you think Evil would've scampered away like a three-legged kitten by now? But that's not my main beef with The Seeker. What irked me most about this flight of fantasy involves how it covers the basic structure of a movie of this kind without doing hardly anything unique of its own. The Seeker is your basic "young boy, ancient prophecy, blah blah" scenario, and each attempt made to carve a name for itself seems even more lame than the previous one. For example, an original idea about Light and Dark is introduced into the plot, but viewers see nothing more about it. 

Instead, what we get is a goofy bad guy in black riding a horse, loads of evil crows (left over from Resident Evil: Extinction, I guess), and the great Ian McShane spending half of his part screaming, "You are THE SEEKER!" This is one of those movies where the characters just spurt the plot out of their mouths. The Seeker is also apparently its own deus ex machina, always taking the easy way out of any situation whether it makes sense or not (i.e. expect a lot of death-cheating). And it doesn't help that Ludwig is a virtually emotionless hero (just listen to his whimpering scream while he explodes stuff around him during one laughable scene), Eccleston's Rider never really does anything except yell a lot (but he wears black, so you know he's evil), and one character's revelation as being a villain isn't the slightest bit surprising whatsoever. There are no flesh-and-blood characters to root for here, just thin genre archetypes who go through the same motions we've seen before in better fantasy movies. .

I have to give The Seeker credit for at least looking  good (aside from some awkward, swervy camera angles), for moving along fairly quickly, and for including reliable character actor McShane in its  cast. Still, I believe fans of this genre should seek out a higher quality movie to fulfill their their need for a fantasy fix.

MY RATING: ** (out of ****)

(Released by 20th Century Fox and rated "PG" for fantasy action and some disturbing images.)

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