Take two parts Star Wars, two parts Lord of the Rings, one part Dragonheart, and a dash of Harry Potter, mix well. Serves as many as will pay.
That seems to have been the recipe for the genesis of Eragon, the latest attempt to create a fantasy film franchise based on a popular novel. Sadly, it doesn't have enough verve and vigor to inspire much passion. Eragon is essentially a 95-minute trailer for the second film. By the time the end rolls around, it doesn't feel like we got anywhere — it's just beginning to pick up steam and it's over.
Before you ask, no, I have not read the novel, and no, I have no real intention of ever doing so. It isn't that I don't read or anything like that, I just don't care for fantasy novels. Films are a different beast. I do give much credit to author Christopher Paolini, who wrote the novel, the first of a trilogy, when he was 15 or so, and published at 17.
If you have seen Star Wars or Lord of the Rings you are going to see a lot of similarities here. The farm boy is the "chosen one" believed to be able to lead a rebellion against a corrupt and evil king and his dark minions. There is the wise man who knows just what lessons he needs to learn to put him on the right track, there are the hordes of bad guys hot on their trail, the boy must overcome his own lack of self-confidence to realize his destiny — I had the distinct feeling I had seen all of this before and better.
The narrative sputters along, consisting of mostly exposition and very little motion. There is some background on who the dragon riders are and their connections to their dragons, a quick recap of how the king came to be in power, and a bit on the rebellion. The whole project is held back by a poor script that fails to develop any meaningful relationships between any of the characters. I found myself not really caring what happened to them; there was no emotion behind their actions, so why should I feel anything for them?
The dialogue is clunky, and many of the lines are kind of hard to wrap a tongue around to deliver believably. Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich make an admirable effort to make their roles interesting, but it looked like they knew they were in a poor movie and were just having a little fun with it, Malkovich in particular.