Film Review: Eragon

by Nate Taylor

Eragon was not the worst movie I've ever seen. It wasn't worse than Dungeons & Dragons. It wasn't worse than Freddy Got Fingered or Battlefield Earth. There's a whole list of movies that it wasn't worse than, but the list is short. I would put it on par with Wing Commander, but at least Wing Commander came up with it's own plot.

The movie opens with your standard expositional voice-over to bring the audience up to speed, then a daring chase scene involving a princess who has stolen an item of value from the evil king (who used to be part of the land's peacekeeping "dragonriders," but betrayed and murdered them all so he could rule alone). We then go to a simple farmboy living with his uncle in an out-the-way village. Luke Skywalker wants more than a simple farm life...wait. I meant Eragon wants more than a simple farm life, but when the king comes looking for his stolen battle plans, an old warrior masquerading as a local hermit must take him from his village and show him the ways of the Force so they can join up with the Rebellion.

Oh, who am I kidding? Eragon is Star Wars with different names! This movie is one blatant rip-off after another with cliches in between.

Following the common trend of book/game-to-movie, Eragon's positives are visual only. The sets were very good and the costume design was terrific, showing imaginagtion and class. My full props to the art department. Everyone else is on my hit list.

Peter Buchman was responsible for a downright awful screenplay. The dialogue was as witty and nuanced as the verbal sparring before a WWF match. Character development was pathetic. Eragon, the title character for example, had all the depth of a parking lot mud puddle. All other characters were given a name and purpose which made them little more than glorified spear-holders. Christopher Paolini, the author of the book, gets a share of this blame as well. I don't know how bad the novel is, having not read it myself, though I've heard it described as the transcription of a child's afternoon of roleplaying D&D.

Next up is director Stefen Fangmeier. I hesitate to call him a film director, because until now he's been a visual effects supervisor, but someone took a chance on him with Eragon. Judging by the complete lack of competance at directing actors, unimaginative sequencing, and the laughable pacing, I'd say it'll be a while before he gets his next shot at the Show. There should have been warning signs saying "Caution! Abrupt Scene Changes" as I entered the theater, and an usher handing out Dramamine for those movie-goers who are used to smooth storytelling.

Finally is the laundry list of people claiming to be producers: Roger Barton, Kevin Richard Buxbaum, John Davis, Wyck Godfrey, Adam Goodman, Kevin Halloran, and Chris Symes. It was these people's job to make sure the movie was the best it could be, and none of them recognized it for the steaming pile of Hack that it is. Shame upon ye.

Worst of all, this film is a prime example of how you can't fix a bad script by throwing money at it. It had a huge budget, star power in John Malkovich, Jeremy Irons and Robert Carlyle (people who I know can act), a great score from Patrick Doyle, and superb CGI for its big dragon. Yet none of these things could overcome the deafening roar of the script and directing. Eragon is definitely the most underwhelming movie of the year.

In my opinion, the only people who could really enjoy Eragon are the folks who invent movie drinking games, and socially inept eight-year-olds who get bored if their entertainment doesn't feature sock puppets.

Two crowns for giving me a nice dragon and some great visuals to look at, and minus one crown for an hour and fifty minutes of gut-wrenching cliches.

Contact: naten at king-sheep dot com