** (out of 5)
December 15, 2006
Edward Speleers as ERAGON
Jeremy Irons as BROM
Sienna Guillory as ARYA
Robert Carlyle as DURZA
John Malkovich as KING GALBATRIX
Studio: Fox 2000 Pictures
Directed by: Stefan Fangmeier
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Ever since “Harry Potter,” “The Lord of the Rings” and more recently “The Chronicles of Narnia” legitimized fantasy films in the mainstream, Hollywood has been searching for the next big franchise. The latest attempt is the young adult best-selling novel “Eragon.”
My biggest beef with this movie emerges from the fact that I grew up a “Star Wars” kid, with most of the fantasy films of my youth (like “Dragonslayer” and “Excaliber”) crashing and burning into obscurity. Now, instead of sci-fi knock-offs, the CGI effects are made use of in the fantasy realm. But sadly, “Eragon” is still nothing more than a “Star Wars” rip-off.
The story follows a young farm boy who suddenly finds himself destined to be the last hope of a dying breed of ancient warriors. Sound familiar? Instead of the Force, there’s basic magic. Instead of Jedis, we have Dragon Riders. Instead of Darth Vader, we have the evil sorcerer Durza (Robert Carlyle). The only thing missing here is a Chewbacca.
I understand that would-be writers that have read Joseph Campbell have learned to work with only a limited number of hero storylines, but this is ridiculous. I couldn’t even enjoy the film because I kept getting slapped with new plot points stolen from “Star Wars.”
Don’t believe me? Here are just a few: Eragon was abandoned by his parents to live with his uncle on a farm. His uncle is killed by soldiers looking for his new “friend” (a dragon instead of a pair of droids). Eragon must travel with an old, wise Dragon Rider to save a princess from the bad guys. His old Dragon Rider mentor takes it upon himself to teach him the way of magic. Should I go on?
Instead of explaining how everything fits together, let’s continue the “Star Wars” comparison. Edward Speleers plays Luke Skywalker. Sienna Guillory plays Princess Leia. Jeremy Irons plays Obi-Wan Kenobi. Garrett Hedlund is Han Solo. And John Malcovich plays Emperor Palpatine.
Scratch that… As he does with every other role he’s ever had, John Malcovich plays John Malcovich – a dirty, bearded John Malcovich who keeps an evil dragon as a pet.
The writing is somewhat uninspired for this film, so much so that it can’t be saved with some pretty slick special effects. Sigh… at least they didn’t have a Jar Jar Binks stuck in there somewhere.
Actually, the story behind the story is more interesting than the one in the movie itself. It’s actually an inspiration Cinderella story for aspiring writers. Author Christopher Paolini wrote the book when he was still a teenager and managed to sell it. From there, he published a sequel, and a third book is being prepped for release sometime in the future.
I’ve never read the original novel, so I can’t say whether it follows the original story. Because of this, I don’t blame Paolini. Maybe the screenwriter or the director was responsible for the movie’s lack of creativity.
The acting was only so-so, even for the powerhouse actors like Jeremy Irons. In fact, “Eragon” felt more like a comfortable follow-up to an Uwe Boll stinker like “BloodRayne” rather than an appropriate lead-in for the next “Harry Potter” or “Narnia” sequel.