Reviewed by Tempest
No alternate review available
When darkness falls, a hero will ride.
Eragon is the movie adaptation of the first chapter of the Inheritance Trilogy written by Christoph Paolini. It would be difficult to write about the movie without taking a moment to say something about the book. The book has managed to be on the New York Times best sellers list and considering the age of the author, this is quite remarkable. However, even if I know that I will probably offend some people who read my reviews, I still have to say that the book itself will taste a bit like stale bread if you are already familiar with more experienced fantasy writers. Also, I don't think it's a real secret that Eragon is greatly inspired from Lord of the Ring and Star Wars and I can remember back then when I was reading the book that I didn't think there was enough material to do a good movie.
To return to the movie, many people consider Eragon to be some sort of Lord of the Ring junior and while there are some unmistakable similarities between the two movies (as I said earlier), it is more accurate to say that Eragon is a relatively more serious and relatively better version of the low-budget Dungeons & Dragons (2000) movie.
I have tried to see the movie as someone who never read the book and with this in mind, I must admit that the storyline is thin, sometime so thin that it will leave some viewers wondering who is this or that guy and at moments, if a few characters had a private meeting off the stage and we weren't invited. The best example to illustrate this problem is Murtagh, one of the main character in the book, who play such an insignificant role in the movie that we are left wondering why he even exist at all. So a friendly warning to those who have read the book, 75% of the events in the book didn't make it in the movie. Aside this, the plot is simple and predictable, the character are tossed in and out of the story and we don't really know the most basic background information about them to truly understand and appreciate their importance in the movie. Also, the climax where the viewers have the feeling that all may be lost is anemic. While it's true that for a few seconds near the end, it may seems like the hero will be facing overwhelming odds but this feeling evaporate as fast as it came.
The story began with Arya (Sienna Guillory) who, after having stolen a large blue stone from the evil King Galbatorix (John Malkovich), are fleeing for their lives. As Galbatorix minions killed her escort and defeat become unavoidable, she decide to teleport the stone away instead of letting it fall into the hand of the enemies. This is when a son of a farmer named Eragon (Edward Speleers) who is out hunting at night, see the rock appear in front his very eyes. Not knowing the exact nature of the stone, he decides to return to his village and trade it for food. However, once he mention to the butcher that the stone was found in the Spine, the butcher suddenly become wary and refuse to trade anything for it as the stone could only bring troubles for the village. Eragon decides to keep the stone and it hatches sometime during the next day or the next few days (the movie doesn't give any detail about the amount of time covered between scenes).
The King Galbatorix became aware (instantly?) that the dragon has hatched and want it dead because those resisting his rule may find hope and a renewed will to fight back at the news that a new dragon rider has risen. Back to the village and after hearing the rambling of Brom (Jeremy Irons) about how great dragon riders were in the past before a traitor dragon rider named Galbatorix, slaughtered them all, Eragon decides to teach his dragon how to fly (so he could become a dragon rider). The first inconsistency in the story appears here because apparently, a 2 feet long baby dragon makes its first flight into the sky, only to return 10 seconds later as a 20 feet long dragon (probably to speed up the story, but the way it was done was a bit amateurish). At any rate, the new adult dragon then presents herself as Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz) and announces to Eragon that he is her new dragon rider.
One night (the next day or after a few days/weeks), when Eragon is wandering around his village, he hears one of the King's minion interrogating a villager, who under duress tell everything about Eragon and his strange blue stone. Eragon understanding that he and his father is in trouble, decides to rush to his house but Saphira take him away before he could do anything... only to take him directly to his house after flying around pointlessly for a moment. During that time, his father was killed (it isn't clear how the king's assassin could have gotten to the farm faster than Saphira but anyway). Brom suddently appear in the front door of the house and decide to take care of Eragon as he realizes that Eragon is a dragon rider. They both flee from the village and so the story began to reach the safety of the Varden, a group of people who are brave enough to stand against Galbatorix and where Eragon could be trained as a dragon rider.
I know this summary is a bit patchy, but it reflects the actual storyline that is equally patchy.
The strong point of the movie is that the computer effects of the dragon are well done and very fluid. Moreover, the interactions between the dragon and the actors look like if they were dealing with something real. however, the great CGI alone couldn't make you forget the rest of the movie. Also, some people, including myself, will not be enamored with a dragon that is born with bat-like wing only to grow up to have feathers, but I guess it's a matter of personal preferences.
While the setting look medieval enough, the characters' clothing looks a bit low budget. For example, enemies' helmets look like they are made of plastic and give an unrealistic shine under the spotlights. And in a medieval setting, people would normally tend to be dirty/dusty, especially for mere peasants and a farmer leather coat should look a bit more like a worn Indiana Jones' coat rather than something that was recently purchased in a Wal-Mart. In the movie Screamers (1995), they had people wearing out the costumes for a few months in order to have the right look of "we are on far away planet, cut from our supply lines, in a war with no end in sight" and they were very successful in that regard. Small details I suppose, but it's disappointing that most modern movies completely disregard these things.
Goof: When I saw Saphira armor for the first time (with a full-face plated helmet), I can remember "my this is going to look wicked on her" but the next scene she is wearing an open face roman-looking helmet.
Goof: Elves aren't supposed to have pointy ears? Just asking...
Sound & Music:
There are one or two tracks that are memorable (when they leave the village at the beginning or during the fight at the end) but in general the music is just ok. The voice of the Saphira also seem too womanly to be truly believable, I mean a slight modification or some light alteration to make it sound like it would come from a different species would have been a lot better. Don't get me wrong, the voice of Rachel Weisz is considered as one of the movie strong point and personally, I agree with this, her voice is fine... for a woman, but it just sound odd for a 20 feet long dragon.
In a movie where the acting isn't that great, there seem to be two distinctive category of actor, those who play their character relatively well during the whole movie, and those who don't... during the whole movie. Brom for example, even with a poor script and poor performance from other actors, was able to make a believable impression of the old mentor that has seen too much to be impressed or to truly care about what could happen to him. This is understandable since he is relatively old, he has lost his dragon (being a former dragon rider), his glorious days are well behind him and he understand that Eragon's life (the last good dragon rider) is much more valuable than his. On the other hand, Eragon with his poor swordplay and neophyte magical abilities put him at odd with his I'm-not-afraid-of-anything attitude (is he a farm boy or a warrior?). For example, when Brom goes on rambling publicly against
Galbatorix and a guard say angrily to be silent if he doesn't want to hang by a tree; it's not very believable to have a 17 year old asking the guards to let him finish his rant. It almost sounds like if Eragon thought he was in a legislative assembly instead of a small village under the boots of a brutal tyrant. This kind of clumsy acting is prevalent throughout the movie. Saphira is doing a rather good job to be the slightly arrogant dragons but too many one-liners will eventually give the impression to the audience that there is something missing... such as a conversation that doesn't sound excessively scripted. Durza look credible in making sure his King's biddings are properly executed by the people that serve him but near the end those with high expectation for the epic battle will be slightly disappointed. In general, the soldiers and the battles look fake, people die excessively easily and there isn't any real swordplay to get the viewers on the edge of their seat.
Note: the overall is not an average, but more a general appreciation of the movie as a whole.
R a t i n g
|Images:||(7/10) - Good|
|Sound & Music:||(6/10) - Average|
|Story line:||(3/10) - Poor|
|Acting:||(4/10) - Shoddy|
|Innovation:||(3/10) - Poor|
|Educational Value or|
Level of Wisdom:
|(2/10) - Very Poor|
|Overall:||(3.5/10) - Poor
A rating of 5/10 should be considered as something not good but not bad either (# bad points = # good points).