The Seeker: The Dark is Rising

In any world, any century

"Fifteen is really medieval and pioneer and nothing is clear and nothing is safe and nothing is come and nothing is gone but it all might be." Gertrude Stein

Fifteen is close enough: A fourteen-year old boy is by nature a seeker?mainly of his own identity and then of a place in the grand design. It's a personally painful quest, most often lonely and usually not of import beyond himself. In the case of Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig), however, the survival of the world depends on him, as depicted in the fantasy The Seeker: The Dark is Rising.

Will learns he is the last warrior of a group that has been fighting the forces of The Dark over the centuries. Unless he finds a series of clues involving time travel in the next few days, The Dark will finally win. Imagine fighting a thug on a white horse while also struggling with hormones and teasing brothers. It's quite a task for a teen, but Will, as you might guess, finally goes for it. When he starts blowing things up, out of anger and adolescent curiosity, Susan Cooper's adapted novel is spot on about the confusing and tumultuous role of a teen in any world, any century.

Although in a sense, this film is simplistic when juxtaposed with, say, The Bridge to Terabithia (although a pre-teen hero), its value is in depicting the epic struggle between the forces of good and evil expressed so obviously in its title and felt so personally by the teen hero. Even the graphics are less pronounced than in almost any action adventure in the last few years.

So while this is not a visually sumptuous romantic fantasy, it has a charm by being straightforward storytelling, less complicated than most but no less enjoyable. Nothing new or striking happens, perhaps the best hint that youngsters in the audience won't be preached at much by the adults, whether in the film or producing it. Thank goodness, because saving the world is tough enough without worrying about the adults confusing matters more.