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Film / The Seeker

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The Seeker is a 2007 fantasy film incredibly loosely based on the novel The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper and starring Alexander Ludwig and Christopher Eccleston.

It was released as The Dark is Rising in the UK, and in some other markets as The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising.

The movie performed poorly at the box office, having the second-worst debut of all time for a film released in over 3,000 theaters and only grossing $3,745,315 on a $45 million budget. It also received negative reactions all around from critics, fans of the book series, and even Susan Cooper herself for how much it disregarded the source material.

This film provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Jerkass: Will's brothers in the original book were loving and supportive. Here, they're complete dicks to him.
  • Adaptational Nationality: In the book the Stanton family are British, here they are Americans who just moved to England.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: In the book, Thomas Stanton was the Stantons' first child who died soon after he was born. In the movie, however, he's Will's twin brother who was kidnapped by the Rider when they were babies. This leaves the viewers wondering how the Rider didn't realize he'd kidnapped the wrong child or why he didn't kidnap them both just to be sure.
  • Adaptation Title Change: The Seeker is very loosely based on The Dark is Rising.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Stantons are now the Weasleys of Harry Potter. Prankster twins, Aloof Big Brother, traitorous big brother, annoying sister... it all checks out!
  • Chekhov's Gun: Will gets a digital watch for his birthday, which he later uses to amaze a Viking.
  • Cultural Translation: The film doesn't go the whole hog and transfer the story to America (where it wouldn't have worked), but Will and his family do become Americans.
  • Deus ex Machina: The skeleton. Granted, he was an Old One, but aren't they immortal, anyway?
  • Dutch Angle: Not abused quite as badly as it is in Battlefield Earth, but it's noticeable enough.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Will's mission is to find all of five "signs" to become powerful enough to defeat the Rider.
  • Hollywood Genetics: Blond Will's parents and siblings all have brown hair. This is probably meant to signify something, but we're never told what.
  • Hormone-Addled Teenager: What's one of the first things fourteen-year-old Will wants to do with his powers? Get a girl. His brother's girlfriend, no less.
  • In Name Only: One reviewer joked that "They only changed one thing in the plot - everything", and it's not far wrong. The Stanton family, who in the books are warm, caring and British, are now dysfunctional and American; Will is changed from a thoughtful, wise-for-his-age eleven-year-old to a whiny fourteen-year-old hormone-addled jerkass who's more interested in stealing his brother's girlfriend than completing his quest for the Signs, and all the Arthurian mythology is hacked out and replaced with Christian allegory. As such, the screenwriter didn't actually read the book.
  • Jerkass: All Will's siblings except his sister. It's taken to ridiculous extremes, especially with the twins; any competent parent would have nipped that in the bud when they were children. Especially galling to fans of the book, where the Stantons were a warm, loving family. It's made all the worse that none of them seem to have any other personality traits.
  • Logo Joke: The 20th Century Fox logo sequence plays out normally until the end, when the logo takes a shade of yellow and massive swirling patterns, representing the first sign, appear on both sides of the logo.
  • Magical Seventh Son: Will is the seventh son of a seventh son, and destined to save the world from darkness.
  • Market-Based Title: The film was entirely retitled to plain The Seeker in the USA, arguably fittingly in light of its large divergence from the source material. In the UK, where the books are perhaps best known, the title remained The Dark Is Rising, much to Cooper's annoyance. Canada got the compound of the two. Other markets got more 'descriptive' titles, e.g. Portuguese- and Spanish-speaking countries used ones that translate to The Six Signs of the Light.
  • Parental Neglect: Will's parents, particularly his father, seem pretty detached from all of their children.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: In the books, Thomas Stanton was the first of the Stantons' children and died three days after birth. Here, he was made into a surprise twin brother kidnapped by the Rider, and freed by Will.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Will Stanton. At the end of the movie, he and the other Old Ones are forced to retreat into the Great Hall, where their enemy the Rider cannot enter unless invited. Will then proceeds to throw open the doors when he hears his parents and sister calling him only to learn that it was just the Rider who — oops — is now able to enter. Evidently Will thought his completely ordinary family was able to somehow get to a mysterious place which seems to be in an alternate time/dimension.