Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Invariably, ‘Eragon’ will be compared to the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which is mightily unfair because the film is going to have enough trouble standing on it’s own, much less being aligned with arguably the greatest movie series ever filmed.  I do mean arguably.  Somewhere in the world some young person is missing out on his childhood still waiting for ‘Return of the King’ to finally come to an end. 

Ah to the land of sword and sorcery we go, to a place populated by elves, magicians, shades and dirty, unshaven European looking dudes.  And very few women.  Here we meet Eragon (Edward Speelers), a boy of 17 who happens upon a stone while hunting one morning and takes it home.  Whatever this thing is it is apparently quite valuable as Evil King Galbatorix (John Malkovich) will kill everyone on the planet, if need be, to get it back.  Turns out it’s not stone at all but an egg.  An egg of a dragon.  Dragons and their riders used to populate the land until the Evil Galbatorix killed them all.  Damn Galbatorix.  Not that it really matters who has the egg though because dragon eggs apparently don’t have a gestation period.  They just stay eggs until the dragon embryo decides it’s found somebody worth hatching for. 

Seems our little egg hatchling has chosen to hatch for Eragon and out comes the cutest little CGI dragon which immediately burns young Eragon, marking him as a Dragon Rider, the first such rider in a generation.  Eragon, raises the dragon from a hatchling to full grown… well, actually this is a bit odd because it’s a hatchling one moment, then Eragon throws it up in the air and it flies off only to return thirty seconds later as a full grown dragoness named Saphira with the voice of Rachel Weisz.  Regardless, none of this makes the Evil Gabatorix happy at all and he dispatches his chief

magician, the Evil Durza (Robert Carlyle), to find and kill Eragon.  Fortunately for Eragon there is an old school Dragon Rider, sans dragon, by the name of Brom (Jeremy Irons) who goes Mr. Miyagi on the boy and teaches him how to fight, how to harness his dragons power and a few magic spells. The two set out to find the Vardan, lead by Ajihad (my good friend Jhimon Hounsou), to form an army to take down the Evil Galbatorix.  There’s also a captured princess, Arya (Sienna Guillory) who needs to be rescued as well.  Soon dragons and rebels will unite in effort to remove the Evil Galbatorix and return the world once again to the time of the Dragon Riders!  Damn Galbatorix.

Derivative is the word that comes to mind after witnessing the first in what appears to be a trilogy of films in this series.  To say that it lacks originality would be quite the understatement.  A young inexperienced hero, a grizzled cynical mentor, a beautiful damsel in distress, an evil king…  but honestly, how much of what we see now a days is original in the first place?  Maybe not as blatant as ‘Eragon’ but still...  But just because we’ve seen this story umpteen times before doesn’t mean the movie is going to suck, and ‘Eragon’ doesn’t suck, but it’s not that good either.  It’s painfully mediocre is what it is.  Based on a novel by Christopher Paolini, who wrote when the thing when he was sixteen or seventeen years old, ‘Eragon’ has some of the lames, weakest, most stilted dialog of any movie in recent history.  None of the words coming out of any of the actors mouths ring with any kind of authenticity.  Now I’m not trying to hate on a 17-year old novelist, especially one who’s written a best seller and optioned said best seller into three Hollywood movies for mad cash, but the dialog and situations in the movie seemed like they originated from someone who’s life experience came from watching other peoples movies and reading other people books.  The screenwriters could have helped beef up the story a little more, or at least tweak the dialog, but considering I haven’t read the book, for all I know they only made things worse.

Director Steven Fangmier, who is making his feature film directorial debut, but has made quite a name for himself in the movie biz as a special effects supervisor handles his actors and scenery competently enough, but the editing of the film seems rushed and hackneyed and there isn’t a whole lot of development for the characters.  For instance, one moment Sage Brom tells young Eragon to be careful with the magic spells since he doesn’t  know enough and the magic may kill him, the next moment Eragon is a master magician raising the dead.  A lot of the narrative was inconsistent and vague as well.  The evil Shade Durza seems to know where Eragon is at all times, and can transport himself practically anywhere, except wherever the hell Eragon is, even though he knows where he is.  On top of that the entire production feels as it was rushed to meet the holiday deadline.

Lastly, the star of ‘Eragon’, young Edward Speelers has the wide-eyed, confused, this thing is way bigger than me thing down pat, but when Eragon was supposed to be in control and running things, Speelers still seemed wide eyed, confused and stupid.  Hopefully by the third film, assuming its audience last that long, he’ll be able to wipe that blank stare off his face.

‘Eragon’ did have some nice action sequences and some outstanding special effects, but suffers greatly to the derivativeness of its story and stilted nature of its dialog.  Worth seeing maybe because it’s a movie with dragons in it, and you’re out of work for a couple of days with nothing better to do during the holiday, but that would be the only reason to see this mediocre tale of dungeons and dragons.

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