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Fantasy knock-off ‘The Seeker’ cheesy and predictable

October 11, 2007

While the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” franchises may be the supreme fantasy features of our time, their imitators persistently crawl out of the woodwork to this day.

“The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” (a title every bit as cringe-inducing as “Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever”) is the latest such example. It is a film whose source material was published long before the Boy Who Lived ever set foot in Hogwarts but is none-too-fashionably late to the table movie-wise.

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, birds crowd around him, dogs start to growl at him and he is able to summon great strength on a whim.

A 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 deduced 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, but that’s not my main beef with “The Seeker.” What irked me most is how the flick covers the basic structure of a movie of this kind without doing hardly anything unique of its own. It’s 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.

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 instead of actual dialogue.

“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).

It doesn’t help that Ludwig is a virtually emotionless hero, 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 that go through the same motions we’ve seen before in better movies.

I have to give “The Seeker” credit for at least looking good (aside from some awkward, swervy camera angles) and for moving along fairly swiftly. Still, when a movie has you yearning for the cheesy glory of “Eragon,” you know you have a problem.

A.J. Hakari is a student at UW-River Falls.