Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007)

Rated: PG
Length: 94 Minutes
Grade: BBCB=B
Budget: Unknown.
Box Office: $9 million US, $22 million Intl, $6 million DVD

Directed by: David L. Cunningham, whose previous work was The Path to 9./11 and To End All Wars.
Starring: Alexander Ludwig, Christopher Eccleston, Ian McShane, Frances Conroy, James Cosmo, Jim Piddock, and Amelia Warner.

In this adaptation of the second book of Susan Cooper’s excellent Dark Is Rising series, Will Stanton begins to have strange experiences at the time of his birthday. He learns that he is a central figure in an epic battle between the powers of light an those of darkness and must battle his own uncertainties and the real dangers to find the ancient signs that will save the world from darkness.

Entertainment Value: B
I read these books in grade school, and loved them. Not quite as much as Lloyd Alexander’s Taran series, but I still loved them. But the movie, though good, was a little flat for me. As so often happens, the richness of the book, where the author can take time and put you into the story, just isn’t easy to bring to screen. Cooper, at 73, was not apparently involved in making the movie, and as critical reviews have noted, the story is significantly different from the book.

Superficial Content: B
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sexuality B, Violence C, Language A, Illegality A
The language is clean, and there is a minor romantic interest between a girl and a boy. But the real issue here will be supernatural scary weird magic stuff. In one scene, a flock of crows attack people a la The Birds, and one character is implied to have been killed. There are several scary battle sequences. I’d call it PG-8 or 9.

Significant Content: C
Good must fight evil, but the outcome is not guaranteed. Good and evil are both real forces, which makes this a semi-manichean movie rather than a Biblical one, even though it’s made by Christians. The weapons of choice are not natural, but supernatural. The family is large, which I like.

Artistic/Thought Value: B
It definitely had the feel of a Walden Media film, which isn’t a bad thing. Their films have a certain over-colored realism that I recognize immediately from Bridge to Terabithia, Mr. Magorium, and Charlotte’s Web. With the exception of Mr. Magorium, which was never a book, I generally would prefer to see kids read the books Walden makes into movies. They’re good movies, but they’re far better books.

Discussion Questions:
~Are people special because they have massive historical significance and supernatural powers or because they are made in the image of God? Which answer does this movie encourage?
Are the Old Ones like God or angels, or what? Is the worldview here one of a personal God and Satan or more like the Force of Star Wars? Is evil an actual force, or merely the absence of God? Does this movie represent a Biblical worldview in your opinion? Consider the way the dark and light seem very evenly matched and also the lack of a transcendent God governing things.
~This movie advocates the notion of sacred objects and sacred spaces of refuge. Is this a Biblical idea?
~Have you ever been wrong about who was really your friend? Have you ever been betrayed by someone you trusted? Have you ever felt the need to cover up a mistake you’ve made which then led you into deeper trouble?
~The Rider offers eternal beauty as a reward for helping him, think of some ways in which this offer is made to women in America in 2008. Who is the Rider, then?
Overall Grade: B
I found it enjoyable and action-filled. Certainly medium aged children will enjoy it as well. It may sound like a Harry Potter knock-off, but since the books predate Rowling by over 30 years, the likely truth is the other way around.

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