Eragon

"Weak"

Eragon Review


Christopher Paolini began writing Eragon, a fantasy novel about dragons, elves, and a farmboy who finds out that his destiny is to destroy an evil empire, when he was 15 years old. Those themes may sound familiar to you, and that was perhaps an important part of the book's success: It became a bestseller.

I could have written a similar book (though perhaps not when I was fifteen) but I never guessed that the Tolkien estate and Lucasfilm would have given permission to use all of their ideas. As one of Paolini's characters says, forgiveness is easier than permission, and everyone seems to have forgiven Paolini (up to a point -- we''ll see how well the movie does). That's good, because every major plot point in Eragon is ripped off from The Lord of the Rings or the Star Wars series (with occasional ripoffs, probably subconscious, from other sources, like The Wizard of Oz). In fact, Eragon is so derivative it's surprising that it even got published. Or it would be, if publishing houses still had standards.

What's also surprising is that director Stefen Fangmeier tried to make a pretty decent movie out of this generic fantasy novel. Sure, too many scenes are again blatantly copied from Lord of the Rings -- the orcs are back again, just the same except for the name -- and the ending of these films is always weak, and so is the ending of Eragon, which copies them. It's a shame, because Fangmeier's direction is actually better than Peter Jackson's, the cinematography is perhaps better than The Lord of the Rings (the European scenery is excellent), and the CGI dragon is much better than, say, the hippogriff in Harry Potter a few years back. (CGI continue to improve with every major release.)

And the cast is not bad, led by Jeremy Irons (whose voice unfortunately took me back to yet another recent blockbuster, The Lion King). John Malkovich has only a bit part as the evil king, Galbatorix (judging from the name, apparently he's so badass that he's both Roman and Gaul). But newcomer Edward Speleers as Eragon is more appealing than Hayden Christenson (in what was essentially the same role), and reminded me how much better the prequels could have been without Christenson.

But ultimately, the things that Eragon has going for it don't count -- once again, the difference between a good film and a bad one is almost always the script. And the book is just too derivative to take seriously.

Almost all fantasy is derivative -- C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, and a few other children's writers basically invented all the tropes decades ago, and not a single new one has been introduced that I can think of. What those writers all had in common -- and the reason their books are classics -- is that they were all moralists, and they turned to fantasy as a way to simplify fiction by taking out the distracting details of real life and to present entertaining stories with strong traditional values. That's what children's writers used to do, before they took on the topics of drug abuse and single parenthood (and forgot about all the other topics).

Why is fantasy popular? Because of drug abuse and single parenthood, because of Iraq and Korea and President Ahmadinejad, because of Paris Hilton and Hillary Clinton. Because the real world is full of disappointments and low-minded people, not high-minded heroes and magic. And because of all that, fantasy is not going away any time soon. So someone needs to start writing some decent, original fantasy and get on with the tradition.

Say, do you know the way to Mordor?



Eragon

Facts and Figures

Run time: 104 mins

In Theaters: Friday 15th December 2006

Box Office Worldwide: $249.3M

Budget: $100M

Production compaines: Fox 2000 Pictures, Davis Entertainment, Dune Entertainment, Ingenious Film Partners, Major Studio Partners, Mid Atlantic Films, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

IMDB: 5.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Stefen Fangmeier

Producer: , , Adam Goodman

Starring: as Eragon, as Brom, as Arya, as Durza, as Kung Galbatorix, as Murtagh, as Morbror Garrow, as Kung Hrothgar, as Ajihad, as Saphiras röst, Richard Rifkin as Horst, as Sloan, as Angela, Michael Mehlmann as Bybo # 1, Tamás Deák as Bybo # 2, Matt Devere as Kapten, Máté Haumann as Soldat, Andrea Fazekas as Horsts fru, as Nasuada, Ágnes Bánfalvy as Fru hos Varden, Pál Makrai as Wache der Varden, as Razac # 1, Gábor Hortobágyi as Razac # 2, Chris Egan as Roran

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The Belko Experiment Movie Review

The kill-or-die scenario that this movie hinges on isn't something new; it's been used in...

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

The Fate of the Furious Movie Review

With the more dumbed-down title Fast & Furious 8 outside of North America, this overcrowded...

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

A Quiet Passion Movie Review

British writer-director Terence Davies (The Deep Blue Sea) is an expert at digging beneath the...

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

The Sense of an Ending Movie Review

Julian Barnes' Booker Prize-winning novel is adapted into a remarkably intelligent, gently involving film anchored...

The Boss Baby Movie Review

The Boss Baby Movie Review

There isn't a lot of subtlety in this madcap animated comedy, which is more aimed...

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

City of Tiny Lights Movie Review

After the latest incarnation of Dredd, director Pete Travis shifts gears drastically for this complex...

Advertisement
Going in Style Movie Review

Going in Style Movie Review

This is only technically a remake of the iconic 1979 film starring movie icons George...

Graduation Movie Review

Graduation Movie Review

Romanian filmmaker Cristian Mungiu (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days) recounts another staggeringly detailed...

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

Ghost in the Shell Movie Review

This sci-fi thriller is so visually stunning that it deserves to be mentioned in the...

Free Fire Movie Review

Free Fire Movie Review

Basically a 90-minute shoot-out, there isn't a lot to this movie. British filmmaker Ben Wheatley...

Life Movie Review

Life Movie Review

Like a mash-up of Alien and Gravity, this ripping sci-fi horror movie is very effective...

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

The Lost City of Z Movie Review

Based on a true story, it's the historical aspect of these events that holds the...

Chips Movie Review

Chips Movie Review

It's clear from the very start that this movie has little to do with the...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.