In Movies & TV

"Eragon" doesn't live up to fantasy flicks

And the fanboys cheer as the movie about a dragon rider and his dragon flies into theaters today. But those cheers will be stifled by disappointment and the idea that a fandom is being ruined. That fandom begins with the novel "Eragon" that Christopher Paolini wrote as a teenager and now the words he wrote to pass the time before heading off to college have been transformed into a major motion picture.

However, "Eragon" doesn't live up to other tales that have also lept onto the big screen like "Lord of the Rings," "Harry Potter" and "The Chronicles of Narnia." It lacks the epic battles of "Lord of the Rings," the depth of "Harry Potter" and the heart of "The Chronicles of Narnia."

A farm boy named Eragon (Edward Speleers) happens upon a large blue stone in the middle of a forest while hunting. It turns out that it belongs to the power hungry king of the land, Galbatrorix (John Malkovich) and he will do anything to get it back. He sends the shade, or sorcerer, Durza (Robert Carlyle) to retrieve it.

Eragon soon learns that this stone is not a stone in the least, it's a dragon egg. It hatches and inside is Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz). Eragon is named the newest dragon rider and he has a bond with Saphira that cannot be broken by anything but death.

He finds a confidant in Brom (Jeremy Irons), a former dragon rider, who teaches him about the forgotten times when dragon riders and dragons were prevalent. The dragon riders were around to keep the peace, but Galbatrorix started a war between them all. He was the final dragon rider with a dragon left standing and he used that power to take over the kingdom.

It turns out that Eragon is the only hope of the rebels. He must use his power as a dragon rider to save the land and the people who need him.

"Eragon" is very amateurish and feels like a movie that emerged from the imagination of someone with a good idea but without the skill to pull it off. It may be because Paolini was so young when he wrote it. It could also be that first time director Stefen Fangmeier has not honed the skills needed to pull off a movie on the verge of mythical and epic.

The one newbie that didn't seem to have as much trouble adapting to his role is Speleers. "Eragon" is his first movie and he gets to be the lead character. There is a lightness to his acting that is refreshing in this movie. He's relatable because Eragon is also new to his role and unsure of what his destiny is.

There was so much more to be expected of this film. There was a great base with a story involving dragons, magic and battles. But "Eragon" was all over the place, introducing storylines and not fleshing them out. It seems as if those involved felt like good intent was enough to carry the movie, but it's not.

Of course there are good things about the movie. Irons is amazing, whenever he was on screen he just exuded the essence of a great actor. However, sometimes it felt like he was miscast. He always makes a great villain and he could have possibly done a much better job than Malkovich even though it was a much smaller role.

The cinematography was also stunning. The visual effects that had to go into making Saphira were top notch. Since Fangmeier specializes in visual effects, the audience shouldn't have expected anything less than great.

"Eragon" is poised for a sequel -- since it ends abruptly with plenty of unanswered questions -- which will hopefully redeem those involved for this film. The movie didn't do its fan base any favors; the creators should just hope they didn't ruin the series for anyone.


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