Disturbed By 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by Ismael Manzano
I was drawn to see the movie Eragon for two reasons: my love of fantasy movies and my love of fantasy books. When I saw the first poster for the movie several months ago, I quickly recognized the name as being that of a popular book series about dragons. I was intrigued how Hollywood was going to do a full-length feature film where one of the main characters is a dragon. I bought the book a short time later, but due to a heavy work and school load, was unable to read much of it, so my critique of this film will be based solely on my likes and dislikes of the feature film, and not how well or if it stood up to the novel version.
Eragon follows a young boy of the same name (Edward Speleers), whose life seems destined for obscurity in a poverty-stricken town in Alagaesia. He lives for his uncle and cousin on a farm that just barely produces enough to feed the three of them and the King's soldiers periodically steal able-bodied young men once they’ve come of age to serve in the army in the King’s fight against the only known resistance to his power, the Varden.
Why is the king hated? In the beginning, the narration explains that the world was once filled with Dragon Riders and these Riders had extraordinary power and prestige. That was until a Rider named Galbatorix (John Malkovich, from Being John Malkovich, and In The Line Of Fire), turned on his fellow Riders, all but extinguished the Dragons from the Alagaesia, and proclaimed himself King.
A young princess, Arya (Sienna Guillory, Resident Evil Apocalypse) manages to free an egg from the King’s castle and hide it. Eragon stumbles upon it on a hunting trip and takes it home with him. It isn’t long before the egg hatches into a baby dragon, becomes imprinted to Eragon—so that they can hear each other’s thoughts—and grows into a full-sized dragon. It also isn’t long before the King finds out about this and sends his Shade—an evil wizard—Durza (Robert Carlyle) after this new Rider. Eragon finds an ally in a former Rider named Bronn (Jeremy Irons, Die Hard with A Vengeance and Kingdom of Heaven), Eragon learns that he can do magic, sets out on a quest to find the Varden kingdom, then changes his mind, attempts to free Arya, who contacts him through his dreams, loses a friend, gains a friend, and joins up with the Varden people in the fight against Durza and his dark magic. Can this young farmer boy defeat the evil wizard, save the girl, protect his friends and lead an army when he’s barely had time to learn how to ride his dragon, Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz, Constantine, The Fountain), let alone make use of all of its powers?
Okay, it’s ‘Pros; and ‘Cons’ time. I’ll start with the ‘Cons.’ First off, having never completed the book, I can’t say with any certainty that the movie did not follow exactly the original plot of Eragon, however, to me the plot felt rushed. When I’d first bought the nearly five-hundred page book, I assumed the movie would skirt the border of the Lord Of The Rings, in terms of length, but instead, the movie was a little over an hour and a half. Maybe an extra twenty or so minutes would have helped the movie flow better. It’s just my opinion, but when the newly discovered Rider starts spouting off magical incantations that we never saw him being taught, you’re left feeling like you’ve missed something. Second, while I love John Malkovich, I don’t think he was the right fit for this role. Although, to be fair, he wasn’t given much of a chance to display his brilliant acting talents, as he was in less than a handful of quick scenes and had barely more lines in the movie than I’m using right now to discuss his part in the movie. Here a hint for the sequel: “You get John Malkovich, you USE John Malkovich! Don’t just have him standing there while the narrator tells about the evil things he’s done!”
That’s pretty much it for the ‘Cons,’ so let’s go to the ‘Pros.’ The story was very original and intriguing to watch. The dynamic of the Riders and their Dragons was a novel departure from the usual evil or mindless portrayal of dragons in cinema. Durza and his ever-deteriorating face was a great foil for this installment of the series, and the visuals of the Dragon flying and fighting, was amazing and sure to bring out the kid in all of you. So overall, I really liked the movie. Was it the mind-blowing, seat-wetting experience I’d expected going in? No. Was it well worth the price of admission? Definitely yes.