The world's fate rests on slim shoulders

For those mourning the (literary) end of the Harry Potter series and jonesing for the next cinematic installment, scheduled for November 2008, never fear: There'll be no shortage in coming months of movies from acclaimed children's fantasy books. Starting things off on Oct. 5 is the first film from Susan Cooper's Newbery-winning "The Dark Is Rising" sequence -- "The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising."

Cooper's series mixes time travel, swords and sorcery, and Arthurian legend. This chapter finds a modern-day boy learning he is the last in a line of immortal beings charged with fighting the encroaching forces of darkness. The filmmakers made major changes, choosing the second book as the first film and switching the 11-year-old English protagonist to a 14-year-old American.

"I come out of documentaries and docudramas," said director David L. Cunningham ("The Path to 9/11"), who opted for a realistic take. "I was drawn to the concept of being able to tell a fantasy movie through the everyday lens. It's a real family with real issues, but they love each other. This kid finds out he has to save the world, then goes home and gets beaten up by his big brothers."

-- Michael Ordoña

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