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Movie Review: Eragon

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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

Final Grade: 1.5 Stars

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About Neil Miller

  • Luke Davis

    The book was great, but from what i heard, i can infer that whoever directed didn’t even touch the book, so had no idea what to film. Thus far, the book plot makes sense, but hacked up and rushed it makes as much sense as seeing a pig change a diaper on a baby singing “Heat of the Moment”. Do not attack Paolini, it’s not his fault hollywood messed up the movie and gave him a bad image. But answer me this: If people do not like it, how then did he manage to sell over 1,000,000 copies of Eragon AND Eldest? If this movie had been about 3hrs long instead of 140 minutes(that misses a lot of story plot, and probably messed everything up) then this flick would be sitting at a 5 start rating in my opinion. Hopefully Eragon’s director will take more time and think more carefully in it’s sequal(if there is one to be made) Eldest. Eldest covers some of the most important features to Eragon and if he misses most of the Blood-Oath Celebration, Oromis’s teachings, and the battle at The Burning Plains, the romance Eragon feals for Arya, training with Vanir and variopus other details (such as taking cointrol of Du Vrangr Gata, or their stay at Tornag) GET A NEW DIRECTOR, if he doesn’t cover this and makes Eldest a 140 minute film, he obviousley hasn’t read or even cares for this series. Take this into consideration, for i have love this series and i WON’T see it hacked up by a director who doesn’t understand what to film, and i won’t let it be critiqued by people who haven’t read the book and say the movie IS the book. Read the books, decide if it was Paolini or the director, THEN make your comment instead of pre-judging Paolini.

  • http://www.filmschoolrejects.com Neil

    Here are my thoughts on Paolini…

    I understand that he did not make the film, but it was based on his book. It was poorly adapted, yes. But even the premise around this story just reeks of being copied right from earlier works. I don’t mean to call him completely unoriginal, but there is very little about this “story” that feels new in any way. I plan to read the books, but don’t anticipate feeling much different afterward.

  • http://eclecticlibrarian.net/ Anna Creech

    Sounds like the director did a fairly accurate representation of the book. My greatest disappointment is that Paolini took so much of his dragon lore from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series, and his book is the one that Hollywood decides to turn into a movie. Pern fans around the world cried out in dismay when the Eragon movie was announced.

  • Matthew

    I agree with Luke. This movie had the potential to be really great, but once again Hollywood took a great book and totally screwed it up. The movie kept missing major plot points by jumping through the chapters, cutting out characters, and most of the backgound from the book was missing in the movie. I was like reading the book in fast forward.

    I havent been this disappointed in a book made into a movie since i watched Starship Troopers(a very good book by the way). I suggest skip the movie and buy the book. You will be much happier on how you spent your money.

    P.S. If you havent read the book dont comment on it. Yeah the movie was terrible, but it shouldnt reflect on the book.

  • Tiff

    I thought that the book was amazing. I really enjoyed it. The film was a huge dissapointment. Luke is totally right. If only the director had actually read the book he might have made the film a big hit. Hopefully ‘Eldest’ wont be a total screw-up of a film.

  • jammie

    oh my heck you guys have no idea how bad that movie is I hated it it was the worst representation of the book I can’t even begin to desctibe how bad it was. just for a short list of thing that were rong with this move.
    1 arya was suposed to have raven black hair
    2 ronan didn’t leave to join the armie he leaves to go work at a mill so he can eurn money so he can marrie katriena the love of his life that totlay does not work with the second book
    3 there was no katriena
    4 eragon does not descover that brom is a rider until the end of the book
    5 in the movie the dwarfs are not even mentioned
    6 arya is not suposed to leave at the end
    7 murtuge does not come until giliad
    8 the razac are just people that are raped like mummys they were suposed to be like a bird almost kind of thing
    9 the razac burn the farm not brom
    10 sloan was too nice to eragon

  • JDCOOL

    The other two books are based aroung the razac and they killed them off. How can they make Eldest?

  • ROBERT

    It was absolutely terrible, TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE. WORST MOVIE EVER. NEVER BEEN THIS DISAPOINTED IN A MOVIE. UGH. I CAN’T BELIEVE SOMEONE DIDN’T PUT A STOP TO IT BEFORE IT WAS RELEASED!

  • anonymous

    I liked the books fine, but I think we all know the movie was COMPLETELY screwed, I mean, there was just SO MUCH wrong with it.