I’d heard that it was a bad adaptation of a classic book, but being one of my favourite stories of all time I was intrigued enough to still want to see the film version of The Dark Is Rising. That, at least, was the case previously to tonight. This review is based on the first 20 minutes.
Quite simply it is awful. It is an abomination of one of the best children’s books out there. It bears virtually nothing of the original, and it doesn’t even hang together as a coherent new story of its own. Within the first five minutes you have Will Stanton go from an American school, although this it turns out is actually an American school in England, and pass by an actual roundabout near Amersham, and cross a UK motorway to end up in a village that is instantly recognisable as being somewhere in the far east of Europe. He goes to a shopping mall that is again filmed in the US, only to go home to his (far from) “English” house in rural Croatia (or similar). It’s a geographical mess for a story that is intrinsically and importantly British – not least because if you were to carry on filming the other films which deeply reference the legends of King Arthur to set it anywhere other than Britain is nonsense.
The script is diabolical, and even taking away the ‘adapted from a novel by Susan Cooper’ label the film makes no sense and fails to engage from the very beginning. Quite simply it is a terrible film; an abomination of an adaptation; quite possibly one of the worst films ever made.