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Eragon (2006) Review

Eragon (2006) Review
| Dec 15, 2006

I realize that the hero myth is universal, but I can’t help but wonder if the makers of Eragon really understood how much their movie felt like Star Wars: Middle Earth. Unduly harsh? Perhaps. The original novel was written by Christopher Paolini when he was 17 and probably after a double shot of watching Luke and reading Frodo. If there’s one thing that can be said about Eragon it’s that it’s better than the Dungeons & Dragons movie, but that’s not saying much. The downside, though, is that when compared to The Lord of the Rings, the Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, Eragon is an also-ran; fairly well made, but an also-ran nonetheless.

The film starts with an overwrought narration that tells of how great warriors called Dragon Riders protected the good people of a far off land from evil; until the day that one of their own betrayed them all and took over. Now King Galbatorix (John Malkovich), rules the kingdom with an iron fist and a black cloak of doom. The rebels that tried to rise-up against him have been pushed back to an outlining mountain range, where they sit and wait for the prophesied return of the Dragon Rider who will lead them to victory.

“The Chosen One” is Eragon (Edward Speleers), a simple farm boy, who one day, while hunting on the King’s grounds, finds a mysterious stone that turns out to be a dragon egg. You see, a dragon will only hatch in the presence of its rider and as fate would have it Eragon is destined to be the Rider of the newly hatched Dragon called Saphira (voice of Rachel Weisz). With the help of Brom (Jeremy Irons), a surviving, Dragon-less Rider, Eragon learns the way of the warrior and is given the tools to help lead the rebels in a fight to free the kingdom from Galbatorix’s evil.

Frankly it was all I could do to stop myself from yelling out, “Use the Force, Eragon.” And Brom was way too Obi-Wan Kenobi for me to handle, while Galbatorix seemed unnecessarily Darth Vader-ish in his origins. The one thing you can say about The Lord of the Rings is that the unblinking eye in the sky needs no expository dialogue or back story, it’s just a creepy-looking thing on its own. I’ve never read the book, so I have no frame of reference, but I’ve got to say (and again, I hate picking on a kid) this is strictly amateur hour or fan-fic. Actually, I can be a little more generous because for fan fiction, this is actually well-written.

Too bad that the movie isn’t paced well; it’s time for another round of blame it on the director: former visual effects supervisor Stefen Fangmeier. There’s a lot of build-up to an epic battle where Eragon fully takes on the mantle of the Dragon Rider as the forces of the King and the Rebels clash, but I was profoundly disappointed by how it went down. There’s no punch, no excitement, no grandeur—it just kind of happens. If there’s a bright spot, it’s Irons who’s really good in the mentor role and quite nearly makes up for all the scenery chewing he did in D&D (that was Malkovich’s job in this one).

Eragon has the ingredients, but they’re soft-boiled. I get the feeling that either this was a rush job or that there wasn’t a whole lot here to begin with. Given that this is the first part of the “Inheritance” Trilogy, and the crowd at the showing I saw, then a sequel is inevitable. Maybe Paolini’s grown as a writer, or maybe Fangmeier will grow as a director—either way there’s definitely some room to grow.

Final Thoughts

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Eragon (2006) Review 1
Director(s):
Stefen Fangmeier
Actor(s):
Ed Speleers, Sienna Guillory, Jeremy Irons
Running Time:
104 min
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