If there's a lesson to be learned from the fantasy adventure "The Seeker," it's that when Ian McShane tells you not to do something, you really should listen.
In this dreary, spectacle-driven adaptation of "The Dark Is Rising," the second novel in Susan Cooper's award-winning fantasy series for young adults, the stentorian-voiced English actor, late of "Deadwood" fame, plays Merriman Lyon. As one of the Old Ones, a quartet of immortal warriors, Merriman tutors young Will Stanton (Alexander Ludwig) in the ways of the Light and the Dark and lays out the tremendously important task that is his destiny. Will learns everything the hard way, usually by disregarding Merriman's advice.
John Hodge's script diverges fairly significantly from Cooper's book, most notably in changing Will from an 11-year-old English boy to a slightly older American whose family has recently relocated to a small town in the United Kingdom. The seventh son of a seventh son (with all the baggage that the numerology apparently implies), Will awakens on his 14th birthday and discovers he has heightened senses that can turn a visit to a mall into something resembling a bad drug trip.
He soon learns from Merriman and the other Old Ones, who include Frances Conroy as Miss Greythorne, that he is one of them, the last in a line of warriors empowered to save the world from the evil forces of the Dark. Will's role as the Seeker is to find the six signs, small circles marked with crosses, each one made from a different material, before the Dark's envoy, the Rider (Christopher Eccleston), can acquire them.