Oct 15, 2006
The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising (2007) (part 5 of 14)
Outside, Will is busy hurling stones into the lake. Well, he throws one stone and then wanders off into what looks to be misty parkland. As he stands there, doing that “breathe in sharply” thing actors like to do at moments like this, and which I’ve never seen anybody do in real life, a vague shape appears in the mist and then resolves itself into a big white horse. With a black-clad guy on its back. The horse quickly works its way into our hearts by moving ultra-fast for an instant, then suddenly freezing, going into slo-mo and then speeding up again (told you so). Then, as we cut back to Will, the thing finally decides to get down to business and comes running straight at him. While it’s doing that, it does the slow-down-speed up thing again before settling for plain old slo-mo. Then we get a quick shot of Will’s neck while he breathes quickly in fright. Um, okay, that was… interesting. Then we see the rider still coming, and then cut back to Will for—I swear—the exact same weird zoom-in shot they used in Jaws—they used something similar earlier on, but this time the technique is bold and obvious. Look out, Will, a big shark with rubber teeth is after you!
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Anyway, now our hero finally breaks and runs for it. Wait, no he doesn’t. Instead he just stands there, flaring his nostrils in a way that would make Ed Speleers jealous, as a pair of big hunting dogs come running at him from behind. The rider continues to rush in from the front, and now we can see him properly—a guy wearing a big black cloak and a lot of dangling feathers, sitting on a white horse with an elaborate harness and (for some reason) spirally patterns dyed in black along its neck. Well, it sure is cool-lookin’, anyway. Or something.
Now Will finally runs off through the forest, with the hunter and the dogs in hot pursuit. The rider passes him (cue slo-mo!), whereupon Will suddenly falls over (it’s not clear if he tripped or if the rider pushed him) and goes tumbling down a slope like… well, good gravy, exactly like Arya did in Eragon. Man, the parallels just keep mounting up. He falls an awfully long way, with the rider after him (more slo-mo—did they take their cues from Battlefield Earth here or something?), and we get a neat shot where the horse leaps right over the camera. Boy, I hope the cameraman was okay. Next come the dogs, also in slo-mo, and then we cut back to Will still falling. Okay, now we’re past Eragon and into Princess Bride territory. And the camera turns upside down. Really. It honestly turns 180 degrees while we’re watching. And I have absolutely no idea why.
The rider chases him down the slope, and thankfully the camera rights itself as Will finally rolls to a stop (boy, that’s a relief—I was starting to think he’d go on falling for the rest of the movie). Then we get a slo-mo zoom in on him (oh for the love of gods, lay off the slo-mo!) and the camera turns upside-down again as he gets up. This time it turns right way up fairly quickly… only to turn upside-down again an instant later so we can watch the rider apparently running across the sky. Head… hurting…
Will runs off, the rider chases him (right way up now, thank gods), and we get some rather more standard quick cutting and a few wide shots of the pursuit. Then the dreaded slo-mo returns, and Will suddenly falls over. I think he was supposed to have tripped, but from the way he does it it looks a hell of a lot like he just threw himself at the ground. That impression is strengthened by the fact that he does a neat barrel roll when he lands, rather than ending up sprawling on his stomach with his face in the dirt. I can’t tell if that was supposed to have happened because of the speed he was running at because, well, there’s this slo-mo. As he pulls himself into a sitting position, the rider catches up and looms over him, and now we get to see part of his face (he’s wearing a scarf over his nose and chin). Say, that forehead and those eyebrows look kinda familiar…
Will gets up, but the rider has him cornered now and asks him (in a slightly incongruous Northern English accent) why he ran away. Well, he actually says “why do you run?” but I hate archaic wording. Will, not unnaturally, demands to know who the guy is, and Ludwig’s American accent is just getting more and more jarring by the minute. He asks what the guy wants, and the rider says he wants “the Sign.” Yeah, kid—the stop sign from the corner of my street, hand it over, I know you stole it after your last frat party! Alexander Ludwig treats us to some wonderfully bad acting as he puts on a “scared” voice and says he doesn’t know what the rider is talking about.
The rider, apparently deciding he needs to use something a tad more subtle, removes his scarf and reveals himself to be… Christopher Eccleston! With long hair! AIIEEE!!
He asks Will if he’s “frightened of me?” Um, no. I’m not. I’m sorry, but… you’re Christopher Eccleston. You’re practically synonymous with having a charming and likeable screen presence. There is absolutely nothing scary about you. Half the people in the audience probably think of you as the previous Doctor Who. The other half would be remembering your appearance in Heroes. Sadly, neither role was all that sinister.
Nevertheless, Christopher claims that Will should be frightened of him, because “you’ve made me very angry” (causing Doctor Who fans to be transported back to the delightfully named Eccleston episode “The Doctor Dances”). Oh my. “All this time, it was you!” the rider adds, before demanding the Sign again. Will is all like “dood, WTF?” and Christopher just demands to have it again. Er, maybe he doesn’t have any clue what you’re talking about, Chris. Just a thought. Christopher’s response, however, is to keep demanding “the Sign” in an increasingly pissed off voice, before adding sinisterly (well, not really) that Will “escaped me once before—a mistake I will not make again!” Huh? He escaped a bunch of birds before (by running into a shopping maul). Was that you, mister? Are you a flock of birds?
Well, it’s obviously way too soon for our hero to face the final battle with Evil, so at this point Merriman shows up with Miss Greythorne and the Perv Patrol. “Leave the boy alone, Rider!” Merriman commands, and man, that reading was terrible. He sounds like he’s scolding a dog. Oh, and one of the Pervs is holding a crossbow. Um, dude, I know you’re a member of an ancient mystical order and whatnot, but is a crossbow really going to be that helpful? Is there some rule to stop you from packing a rifle?
The rider starts to look uncertain, and Merriman tells him he can’t take them all on because he’s “not strong enough.” Call me cruel, but I don’t find anything particularly threatening about this bunch of pensioners. And what’s more, we’ll never see any of them use any sort of magic or show any particular abilities beyond the power of whacking stuff with sticks, so I’m not exactly buying them as an ancient but powerful group of super warriors. The rider tells them he soon will be because his power is “rising.” Apparently he only needs five days, and then he’ll destroy “you and all your kind.” Okay, I just decided I’m rooting for him. I mean… Christopher Eccleston kills Alexander Ludwig and then rules the world. Who wouldn’t want that?
This said, Chris… I mean, the rider, wishes Will a happy Christmas and tosses him something before riding off. Well, that was an enjoyable sequence. I swear, that chase was one of the most disorienting things I’ve ever seen—and I’ve watched Battlefield Earth. I actually took a long break after writing that part, because recapping it wore me out too much. And I had a horrible feeling that everything I’d written for the last page or so was complete gibberish. No joke—it was that bewildering to analyse.
Anyway, on with the story. Merriman turns rather calmly and relieves Will of the thing the rider tossed to him (it’s something round and in a bag) before inviting him to “walk with us.” Will asks where.
“Through time,” says Merriman, and walks off. What, are they going to visit dinosaurs? Will follows, mostly because of Miss Greythorne steering him along, and they head off through the woods to some rather nice atmospheric music (I am going to get this soundtrack if it kills me). They follow a path made from white pebbles, until they reach a weird archway thing made from woven sticks. The camera rushes forward into it, then points directly upward and spins really, really fast to create a lame segue into… the same woods, but in daylight and with more leaves on the trees.
The losers—uh, I mean heroes—stroll right into the new and improved woods until they come to what looks like a big half-ruined cathedral (oo, is it Merathgadan? Er, just ignore me. Only two people in the entire universe could get that one). As Will approaches it—in slo-mo? AGAIN?—he grins in wonder. Er, a bunch of weirdos just led you to a tumbledown building. What’s so amazing about that?