Every year Hollywood has the propensity to spew forth a few films that we have seen before. Some are carelessly repetitive, and even fewer are intelligently re-imagined. Either way, it leads many to believe that they are just plain running out of ideas. The most recent example is the excruciating fantasy regurgitation Eragon, a film that resembles something that could have been mere scraps of silicon plucked from George Lucas’ cutting room floor.
At the heart of Eragon’s failures is a poorly constructed plot, adapted from a book written by Christopher Paolini, who at the time he wrote it was about 15. Luckily, he was old enough to have seen Star Wars and read Tolkien’s LOTR series, otherwise he would not have had any material for his book. The story is a trite mishandling of previously good stories.
We get our hero, Eragon (Edward Speleers), a young farm boy who finds the egg of a dragon and soon finds out that he has been chosen by fate to end a long era of tyranny imposed by an evil king (John Malkovich). He then sets off on a journey with his mentor (Jeremy Irons), a former great dragon rider who will teach him the ways of riding dragons and fighting off evil Sith(str) Shade lords. The most evil of these Shade lords is Durza (Robert Carlyle), the king’s mildly competent and exceedingly evil number two man. Along Eragon’s journey he meets numerous challenges and countless dangers, meets a girl and learns about being a man. You get the point – you’ve seen this before.
The plot isn’t just familiar, it is atrociously executed – with very little action and even less intrigue to keep viewers interested. First time Director Stefen Fangmeier, whose previous credits included supervising the visual effects for films like Master and Commander, Galaxy Quest and The Bourne Identity, borders on recklessness with his gross over-dramatizations and the speed at which he moves the plot. As if trying to cram three hours worth of story into 140 minutes, Fangmeier delivers characters that are underdeveloped, walking fantasy movie clichés. Like a late night meal from Taco Bell, the story of Eragon is in and out of your system before you even know you had to digest it.
The only possible saving grace of this film is the visual effects. Set against beautiful scenery and sets similar to those used in Discovery channel re-enactments of the 18th century, the CG fire-breathing dragons look very cool. Voiced by Rachel Weisz, Eragon’s dragon Saphira shows off what the filmmaker does best – natural and detailed visual effects. If Fangmeier had put as much effort into developing the story as he did into the look of the dragon, the movie may not have been so insufferable.
Unimaginative and dull, Eragon is still destined to draw a few crowds. Those unlucky souls can blame the marketing team at Fox 2000 for selling them on this otherwise useless regurgitation of every good fantasy flick from the past ten years. You would almost think that two of the six writers of Scary Movie were involved, and Eragon was just a parody – but unfortunately for us, these filmmakers aren’t joking.
Release Date: December 15, 2006