A downtrodden teenage boy discovers to his surprise that he has special, magical powers. He’s instructed in the use of them by an assortment of adult mentors, while a sinister dark lord of many disguises threatens an epic battle for the future of the planet……

These days, you would of course be forgiven for thinking the above was a precis of something by JK Rowling. In fact it’s the synopsis of a book – Seeker; the Dark is Rising – by Susan Cooper that she wrote in 1973 that was made into a movie in 2007. We watched it with Rowan last night. And what can I tell you? Well, Harry Potter obviously sets a very high bar for comparison that this fails to live up to. The film’s entertaining enough, but in a messy, afternoon-television kind of way. 

However it was the locations that really stood out – and not in a good way. Here’s a wee word of advice to film makers; if you’re doing a movie that’s unambiguously set in rural England, it really, really helps if you choose locations that look, well, English. 

Nothing, and I really mean nothing about this film is even vaguely reminiscent of Blighty – not the light, not the architecture, not the costumes nor the interior decor, nothing. Even the cars (new wealth VW Touaregs abound!) were inauthentic. Within about three minutes of the credits rolling at the start of the film, I’d pegged the locations as Romanian – and considering anything of historical interest in Romania was bulldozed by Ceausescu, you just know the results aren’t pretty. Apparently the choice to shoot in Romania though means realism over cgi – why recreate in pxels when it’s cheap enough to build the entire thing?! Hurrah! The Rectory, the Manor House, the Great Hall, even the snow globe where Will is trapped were built as sets. Nice film jobs for carpenters. Unfortunately they were obviously Romanian carpenters, so everything’s imbued with a nice but utterly Romanian sensibility.On the plus side of this decision though, is the scene where the heroes get glooped in snakes, thousands of them. Live ones. You couldn’t pay me enough.

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