– Summary –
Director : Stefen Fangmeir
Year Of Release : 2006
Principal Cast : Edward Speleers, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, John Malkovich, Gerret Hedlund, Alun Armstrong, Chris Egan, Djimon Hounsou, Rachel Weisz, Richard Rifkin, Steven Spiers, Joss Stone.
Approx Running Time : 99 Minutes
Synopsis: A young farmboy discovers a dragon egg, and becomes the flag bearer for the rebel cause against tyrant king Galbatorix.
What we think : Undercooked fantasy adventure never quite soars like it should; badly developed characters (torn from the novel on which this film is based, so you could expect better) and a mishandled narrative never give the film the impetus to become a genuine contender as a franchise starter, leaving this “part one” film to be “the only” film in the series.
Based upon the successful Inheritance Trilogy novels of the same name, Eragon was always supposed to be the first film of a series, had it been profitable. Unfortunately, the films mishmash of ideas and characters relegated this middling effort to simple Sunday afternoon fare, barely registering on the grand scheme of things. Yes, Eragon is a disappointment, but not due in any part to the cast, who are uniformly excellent. Even the digital dragon Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz) is magnificent, and some of the action sequences are terrifically exciting. But the hodgepodge of storytelling, the lack of a linking narrative, and a villain who is impotently relegated to mincing about his palace, cause this film to fall mind-numbingly short of the promises laid out on the cover synopsis.
Eragon, a young lad who finds a dragon egg while out hunting, unwittingly becomes the master of his own destiny (or some other such rhetorical nonsense) when the egg hatches and the dragon inside “bonds” with him. It would appear, according to local grumble-guts Brom (Jeremy Irons) that the ancient Dragon Riders and their Dragons had been betrayed by the evil Galbatorix (a sneering John Malkovitch) and utterly vanquished in a war that lasted… well, about a day.
The dragon Eragon unleashes, Saphira, develops to full size quite quickly, and soon Brom and his young protege Eragon are off to find the rebel group hiding out in the mountains. Kind of reminds you a little of Star Wars, doesn’t it? There are allusions to magic, mystical powers and other fantasy cliches, almost to the point that it would seem that the writers of the script took all the best bits of the novel (which I cannot claim to have read) and pulled each one out of a hat at critical narrative junctures. Such is the disparate nature of each turn of the story, it cobbles together bits from other, more cohesive films. Which is a shame, because the film ends on a kind of “to be continued” note: which will probably now never happen, since this jumble of ideas never really comes together as a whole.
The special effects are good, but often clunky, and at times it’s almost as if you can see the wires. The villains are underdone to a great extent, except for Robert Carlyle as the wonderfully slimy Durza. The problem with films like this is that recently we’ve been spoiled for quality in fantasy film-making, in the era of post-Lord Of The Rings, and anything that falls short of that mark gets a critical drubbing. The bar has been set so high as to be almost unattainable these days. And while Eragon makes a fair fist of it, it’s not really all that great. Allowing for the childish nature of the story, and the fact that the kid who wrote the original novel was practically still feeding from his mother at the time, it’s hard for Eragon as a film to generate any realistically adult themes and scares.
For a fantasy film, it’s quite toothless and limp.