| The Red Right Hand
THE DARK IS RISING
David L. Cunningham
First of all, let's get three very important things out of the way. The first is Harry Potter, blah blah, Lord Of The Rings, blah blah, Narnia, blah blah. The second is that I haven't read the five books that this one film is based on but apparently it's nothing like Susan Cooper's quintology [Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark Is Rising; The Grey King; Greenwitch; Silver On The Tree]. Which is hardly surprising as the director openly denounced kids' fantasy books and stated that the books had little 'movie material'. The final point to make is that this film irritated me... a lot.
So there's this bloody, BLOODY annoying American family (The Stantons) who have recently moved to some unnamed twee place in the British countryside; thatched roofs, posh accents and all the crap that goes into an English rural Christmas (minus the chavs). The youngest son, Will [Ludwig], is no ordinary boy, he's the seeker of hidden 'signs' (essentially a bunch of mystical celtic crosses). Luckily for the poor chap, they're not exactly far apart or difficult to locate. I hated Alexander Ludwig, he just came off as some pissy young American teenager who accepted quite a lot at face value. To help him in his quest, he is assisted by 'the old ones' who are sent to protect, mentor and guide him. The old ones are led by Ian McShane [see highlighted character] who looks incredibly bored, uninterested and generally embarrassed to be involved with the whole project. In addition to these truths, Will must also occasionally face off against the menacing but wholly useless 'Rider' [Eccleston]. Each force represents the elements of light and good but the whole Light/Dark thing was so stupid - the kid types 'light and dark' into google and gets a few colourful print-outs about physics and religion, both of which are completely glazed over. Insert a few world ending threats and a dead twin and VOILA! We have a movie! Seriously, has David L. Cunningham directed anything worthwhile? Who didn't see this coming?
Everything that follows is predictable and conveniently written, dragging from one set-up to another. Oddly enough, it's very difficult trying to isolate what makes this film so bad. Ultimately, I cannot rate this film higher than a 2/10 for the simple reason that anything commendable about this film came from a series of books which have been shucked in favour of something marketable. If there was anything good about this film, those involved have no right making claim to it. Before summation, I will address three minor points. The British-to-American cast ratio felt a little off, considering they were supposed to be in England (6 UK + 8 US by my count - characters, not actors!) but what can you do about that? It was filmed in bloody Romania! The credits were also awful - plain yellow, Arial font. Amazing, absolutely no effort put forth. And finally, the point which I muttered about for a ridiculous length of time, the hilarity of watching Will hitting on his brother's girlfriend, Maggie [Warner], played by an actress who is 25 and he's only 14. The whole thing felt unnecessary, fake and moronic. I swear, there's even a rudimentary penis joke put in as the boy playfully levitates a knife in between a salt and pepper shaker. Can you get any more childish?
19th October 2007
The Scene To Look Out For:
Will has a hissy fit and starts screaming into the night blowing up windmills and trees. His sister confronts him and they're transported through time to a Viking raid. His sister, remarkably calm about their situation, spies the cutest kitten and steals it. Why? She just does! After the great feline larceny, Will notices a 'sign' at the centre of a Viking's shield. In exchange for the shield, Will offers his crazy beeping digital watch. I just liked this scene because I was surprised the Viking didn't keep the shield, kill the kid and steal the watch. That and the early introduction of the digital time piece clearly having no effect on the present.
Highlighted only because I enjoy Deadwood, Ian McShane; he distracted me throughout the entire film because all I heard in my head was a Deadwood quote (which I will censor in case kiddies are reading) "Get a f*cking haircut; looks like your mother f*cked a monkey!" To be honest, he irritated me the least and that's why I chose him.
"It's fruit! Mince pie is fruit!"
In A Few Words:
"A terrible, sordid affair marketed as family entertainment"