16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An underrated gem
'The Dark is Rising' is a fantasy adventure following Will Stanton, a 14-year old American boy living in a quaint English village with his sizeable family, who - through a strange and mysterious chain of events - discovers that he is 'the Seeker', a warrior foretold to play a key part in the ancient battle between Light and Dark. To aid the forces of Light in their...
Published on 20 April 2008 by Veronica Marwood
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Diverting watch, but ONLY if you have never and will never touch the book
Probably one of the most disappointing fantasy adaptations of recent years. Susan Cooper's chilling masterpiece of winter fear, ancient youth, nameless evil and myth is ripped to shreds and reformed as a dumbed down American kids adventure. NOTHING WRONG with the film as such, but acres of potential, not least the atmosphere that the book conjured, is lost to pander to...
Published on 2 July 2010 by Mr. I. M. Davis
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Diverting watch, but ONLY if you have never and will never touch the book,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)Probably one of the most disappointing fantasy adaptations of recent years. Susan Cooper's chilling masterpiece of winter fear, ancient youth, nameless evil and myth is ripped to shreds and reformed as a dumbed down American kids adventure. NOTHING WRONG with the film as such, but acres of potential, not least the atmosphere that the book conjured, is lost to pander to contemporary teen grumps, modern American family dynamics, a perceived lack of intelligence outside convention in its audience. No one who has read the book should have to suffer this film.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Another misfired fantasy that throws out most of what was interesting about the story,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)An ill-advised bastardisation of Susan Cooper's much loved fantasy novel that throws out most of what was interesting about the story and all of the Arthurian mythology that drives it without finding anything worthwhile to replace it, The Seeker: The Dark is Rising is a curious beast that stands as a monument to the perils of international tax-shelter film-making: made by an American company, a Swiss director and a Scottish screenwriter with its pre-pubescent English hero changed to an American teen played by a Canadian and set in an `England' that couldn't look more like Romania if torch-wielding peasants were storming Vlad the Impaler's castle. To be fair the Romanian locations are often quite good, especially when covered in snow, but despite throwing in the odd bobby on the beat or red phone box they look so wrong for the English setting that you can't help wondering why they didn't just set the thing in Romania, especially since they seem to have changed almost everything else as well.
Not that the dubious international provenance is the biggest problem. John Hodge's screenplay is flat and exposition heavy, much of it falling to an impatient Ian McShane, and while director David L. Cunningham does offer a few good images he can't summon up any pace or excitement when it's desperately needed. Worse still is Christopher Eccleston's villain, stilted in Black Rider mode, unfunnily comical when disguised as an eccentric doctor (you'd have thought he'd have had enough practice at that) and resolutely unmenacing as he delivers portentous dialogue about the impending end of the world like a Salford builder giving an estimate to a time-waster he knows won't hire him. The most genuinely atmospheric scenes hit the cutting room floor when they edited the character of The Walker - a key role in the story - completely out of the movie, relegating him and any hint at moral complexity to the deleted scenes bin of the European DVD (the US DVD is missing those entirely). They wouldn't have been enough to save the film, but, as with New Line's attempt to make The Golden Compass's dark ending more kiddie-friendly in post-production by cutting it completely, they do imply that an already weak film was made worse in the editing suite.
The film is never really as terrible as its dismal reputation among the book's fans would lead you to believe, but it is relentlessly flat and mundane, so it's no great surprise that rather than spawning a new franchise for its Narnia producers it crashed and burned at the box-office leaving nary a ripple in its wake.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dont let this movie ruin your book reading..,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)Such an excellent series of books to base one or a set of films on, such a missed oppertunity.
This film gets it all wrong.
Messes up the feeling and settings and time line and family and needed a level of understanding and vision sadly lacking in this "Made for TV like 'moive'".
Deserves only circa 2 stars as a movie, but because this is meant to be based on a fantastic book written by Susan Cooper it only gets a 1 star.. Because they managed to ruin the book in this film.
I only write this to warn people away from a "lazy watch". dont do it. Buy the books. Read either this book on its own or the whole set.
I can only hope that either the Harry Potter team or Peter Jackson and Fran get hold of this whole set and give us something to be proud.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not waste your time,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)As someone who has grown up loving the Dark Is Rising Series of books by Susan Cooper I was quite interested to see it adapted for the 'big screen'. However this film has ripped the heart and soul of the book out and what is left is a disjointed film which fails to draw you in.
Whilst I appreciate that to adapt books for films there has to be some licence with the story this film barely pays lip service to original story.
One major question I had in the first seconds of the film was why make Will an American? Is it really that implausible for the main character to be English, or is it as others have suggested that they were worried about similarities with Harry Potter... a quick look of when the original books were written should stop such fears.
In short the book itself is full of suspense and drama and really need not have been torn apart in the way that this has been in this film. Read the books and rely on your own imagination to see countryside and striking characters.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Dark is Rising,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)So many opportunities missed here. They had a good basis to work from in Susan Copper's excellent book, an intriguing much loved story with mythic overtones... and they turned it into a theme park adventure story for the totally un-demanding. Elements of the story cut from the film are shown in the extras... and imho, it was a mistake to exclude them from the theatrical cut as they do in part explain what's going on. But the thing I really can't forgive is the director saying how pleased they were that the Transylvanian village they used '... looked exactly like an English village, when they'd laid pavements and put up some shop fronts' Per-lease! If your location manager really told you that - they should be sacked! Go on - admit it - you filmed in Romania to cut costs and that extends to the rest of the production, and it shows.
Christopher Eccleston and Ian Macshane do their best, but its an uphill struggle. The producers have a series of books here to make a franchise out of - take some advice - fire your director and get in a writer who understands how to adapt fantasy novels to the screen! 'Harry Potter' should have showed you that 'Englishness' will travel internationally - take the hint and can the americanization of a series of stories that rely on the notion of Arthurian legend and 'the Matter of Britain' as the backbone of their plot.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Please stick with the books,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)I love Christopher Eccleston's work. I love the Dark is Rising sequence of books (ok Over Sea, Under Stone isn't as good as the rest, but even so...). I thought I would at least enjoy the film. But no, it is truly awful. I resent having to give it one star, even, the film is a complete waste of time. Please stick with the books and read them out loud to/with your children if they don't want to read them themselves.
I can't understand why they re-wrote one key element of the book just to give a random happy twist to the film (won't give a spoiler just in case anyone actually wants to watch this tosh).
Merriman may have seemed a bit grumpy in the book, but he wasn't gormless - mind you, since poor wickle Ian Mcshane's brain couldn't cope with the book, its not surprising the character came across as a total idiot.
Rather than put yourself through the agony of this film, do something useful like watching paint dry.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rather dull,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)I like a good fantasy movie but this isn't one. The plot involves an American (why?) boy living in England who must 'seek' a series of magical objects to stop the Dark from taking over from the Light. His home life is complicated as he is one of several children (I won't say how many exactly as the number's important). This has potential but it is never realised as we are plunged into the boringly repetitive recovery of the objects interspersed with images of Christopher Eccleston (the Dark) glowering unconvincingly on a horse. Mr Eccleston was obviously having an off day (or several) - he is quite the least scary baddie I've ever seen. Don't expect Harry Potter or even Eragon. You will be disappointed.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Truly Dreadful,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)This was, in my view, an absolutely appalling adaptation of the fantastic book by Susan Cooper. Barely keeping to the story at all the characters bore no relation to those in the book. I was so disappointed that such a wonderful book could be so badly misinterpreted. I normally enjoy Mr Eccleston's roles but in this he really disappointed me.
The only words I can use to really describe it is, shockingly awful. There was no mention of the Tramp and his actions that brought his punishment from the Light, no mention of the Old Lady, and the way the signs were discovered was dreadful. Why did they have to make the family american?! The whole point was that they were a Buckinhamshire family. There was no mention of the Smith and the forging of the link for the chains.... the only authentic bits were a few characters and the 6 signs (but no mention of the elements which they represent). Awful!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid this like the Dark,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)If you have any respect for the award winning work of Susan Cooper - steer clear of this appalling, pallid, pedestrian, twisted version of the stories. Starting with the Americanisation of the Stanton family and diluting almost every detail of the original masterwork - the writers, directors and producers have systematically destroyed any nuance or power in The Dark Is Rising. They are all douches and should have their childhood keepsakes taken for the destruction they have wrought on this young reader's masterpiece.
Buy the books and savour them instead. I wish the system could give no stars.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars unpleasant characters,
This review is from: The Dark Is Rising [DVD] (DVD)What stops this film from being really REALLY bad is that it diverges so far from Susan Cooper's book that it will no longer matter to her fans that the film is terrible. Virtually every major plot element of the book has been removed or replaced. The Stanton family are transformed from a rustic tightly-knit supportive family into one that is hugely dislikeable and full of self-obsessed bullies. Merriman is also brash, inconsiderate, and still looks far too much like a rather well-known antique dealer! Even Will himself takes to using his 'power' to blow up cars, and so by the end you are so alientated from nearly all the characters that you start wishing the dark would win.
The Rider and Maggie at least provide a bit of interest and depth, however oddly they are portrayed.
If you read the book you will also find all of the following have been completely removed: The Walker (& Hawkin); The Lady; Merlin (and ALL references to British folklore); The Old Ways; The Sign of Fire; Herne the Hunter, and Will's Dad the Jeweller. The finding of all six signs also differs completely from the book. So you're left with a film where a few people share names with those in Cooper's book, and the vague idea of finding hidden things and of snow, but not much else really.
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The Dark Is Rising [DVD] by David L. Cunningham (DVD - 2008)