Alagaesia was once a peaceful land governed by a guild of warriors who rode upon mighty dragons.
These warriors were called dragon riders. Unfortunately, when they were betrayed by one of their own, named Galbatorix (John Malkovich), Alagaesia was plunged into violence and darkness and the remaining dragons were destroyed.
Many years later when the people had forgotten about these magical beasts a young farm boy named Eragon (Edward Speleers) discovers a dragon egg out in the forest, and, in doing so, fulfills an ancient prophecy concerning a dragon rider who will one day free the oppressed from the rule of king Galbatorix.
Eragon is yet another book-to-movie adaptation based on the novel, of the same name, by author Christopher Paolini. It masquerades as something unique and inspiring when in actual fact it is the dullest, most conventional piece of cinema I have seen all year. It tries to be exciting, and for people who the biggest movie or fantasy book lovers it might just be, but if you’ve seen Star Wars or read any of the books in the Lord of the Rings trilogy then Eragon has absolutely, and I mean absolutely, nothing new to offer.
The fault lies not with the filmmakers of Eragon but with Christopher Paolini. Paolini penned the first book of the Inheritance trilogy (another one that comes in threes) when he was only 15 years old. Yes, that’s right, 15. I will admit to being mildly impressed. To produce a work that has the potential to and does get published at such a young age is amazing. Unfortunately, the more I read up about the author the more this impression began to sour.
I haven’t read Eragon so I can’t comment on the novel but others have and what many of the critics have said is that the novel is essentially a pastiche and a mash-up of several influential texts. These include the works of Anne McCaffrey, J. R. R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert and George Lucas. I was hesitant to believe this at first but after seeing the film I am in complete agreement. Eragon, as a film, is a cheap imitation of some of the great literary and film works; it is the poor man’s Lord of the Rings.
In Star Wars Luke stared out at the three suns on Tatooine, in Eragon Eragon looks out at his own sun. In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring a band of unlikely heroes travel across the land to form an alliance and stop an evil force; in Eragon Eragon and his mentor Brom (Jeremy Irons), who again can be compared to the classic Star Wars archetype of Obi-Wan, travel across the land to form an alliance to stop an evil force. You’ve seen it all before and it’s been done a million times better.
Forgetting the source material for a moment, director Stefen Fangmeier does not do a terrible job; he manages to pull things together as best he can, but there is no escaping the fact that his film was based upon a work by a 15 year old.
Eragon’s characters are simplistic and the nature in which the events in this film, and their consequences, are resolved or revealed is frustrating to watch because things simply happen too neatly. Things move from point A to point B to point C and there is no sustained conflict or excitement to be found anywhere.
Eragon, the more I think about it, is a film that deserves to tank at the box office just because it is so lazy. It probably won’t, and I’m sure the sequel must have already gone into pre-production but I will definitely give the next installment a miss.
For an interesting insight into just how much Christopher Paolini was ‘influenced’ by other writers and how he wrote Eragon go to www.shurtugal.com/?id=trilogy/christopher/qanda and read the detailed interview with him. It is a lot more interesting than this film.