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Is 'The Dark' rising--or falling?

Yesterday, FilmChat noted that Fox-Walden has changed the name of it's to-be-released-in-October adaption of the Newberry-honor urban fantasy children's novel The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper to The Seeker: The Dark is Rising--another sign the film is floudering?

Initial reactions to the film and its trailer by the critics I peruse (like Peter Chattaway and Jeffrey Overstreet and these folks) are a bit skeptical. Why? Well, in addition to changing the name of the film late in the game (not a good sign), folks are concerned about the quality of the trailer itself and the indications of changes from the original story in the novel: Will's age has increased (11 to 13), a romance is created, Merriman's stature is different, it's been "updated" from the 1970s to modern day, the locale is changed--to mention a few. When you start messing with that many things in a story, it makes folks nervous.

The film's also attracting talk of critics in Christian circles due to the fact the film is under the banner of Walden Media, the self-professed-Christian Phil Anshutz led company who also produced film adaptations of other children's novels including The Chronicles of Narnia, Charlotte's Web and Bridge to Terabithia.

A fan of urban-fantasy (and curious as to all the hoopla), I recently started the book and can understand why the skepticism is there. Some of the changes being made seem to be essential parts of the story, especially the age of Will (moving him from a more innocent age to a teen). And, while I don't find the book as captivating as other children's fantasy novels I've read (like this, this, this, or this), I can see several themes that gel with a biblical worldview (as, I've mentioned before, is common in the fantasy genre) especially the clear lines between good and evil and the ancient history of that battle. I've yet to finish the novel, however, so I'll withhold final opinion until then.

At any rate, if you're into films with the potential to bring God-talk into open spaces, this is a film to keep your eye on. Let's just hope it doesn't go the route of Eragon. Arg.

(Image: I scammed the images above from Walden's site and LookingCloser)


susie said…
Carmie--I am really curious to hear what you think of Dark is Rising when you finish it. I found the ending totally new age creepy. I wonder why a Christian would direct it.
Carmen Andres said…
truth be told, i'm not resonating with this novel the way i have with others--from the greats (tokien, lewis) to the pop novels (harry potter, eragon)--which seem closer to the biblical universe. that could be for the reasons you state. but i haven't finished it yet, so like i said, i'll withhold final opinion until then :)
Camille said…
The Dark is Rising series fans are brokenhearted about the travesty of this movie. The Arthurian, Holy Grail and Welsh mythology themes have been completely stripped from the movie which makes the whole arc of the storyline pointless.

It is like writing a screenplay for Tthe Lord of the Rings and dumping the elves, the dwarves and the world of men along with that whole evil One Ring thing and just making a movie about some wild and crazy hobbits who have an interesting holiday.

I do not think Walden understood what a treasure they had or the deep love that readers have for the books. They wrote the script on the fly and filmed it with a limited budget.

I think the title change reflects the heat they are feeling.

It could have been grand. No chance for a movie with Christian overtones now. They have botched it.