Eragon is a technically accomplished tale about a new dragon rider destined to save his people from the rule of an evil king. Many of the movie’s thematic elements are quite derivative. Its mostly believable special effects surfacing a texture of familiar epics are nothing but a mediocre rehash of familiar fantasy elements, this time, with the dragon in the limelight.
Other Movie Reviews from 2010 Archive: Adventure, Epic, Fantasy, Sci-Fi and Superhero Films
For all the promise of breathing fire and clashing swords, Eragon doesn’t generate much heat. It becomes a dull fare about the mythical journey of the dragon rider discovering the truth behind his heritage, then battling evil to save his people.
This film draws so closely to the storylines of a number of famous fantasy epics. It also technically shows many overused visual treats coming from past motion picture offers with similar story, concept, and genre. Generally, Eragon revolves around a fantastical milieu with the more-than-passing resemblance to Star Wars, in terms of story, and Lord of the Rings, in terms of look and music. However, Eragon is unable to keep up with the quality of such historical trilogies.
This adaptation of Christopher Paolini’s bestseller presents nothing new to the hero’s story archetype. At the core of its derivative mythology, the characters are full-on clichés. They perform with wooden and monotonous lines from a script with lame dialogues. They are given no time to develop as the plot races from one conflict to another. The weakness of this large-scale fantasy comes from its key elements being too “renamed” rather then “re-imagined.”
With the generic hero-questing, even the most action-packed and dramatic scenes don’t give even a small twitch on the viewer’s skin. There is no suspense, sense of urgency, excitement, nor heart-pumping action for the audience for the entire stretch of the 104-minute film. The script repeats too much ideas and drags down the actors and actresses by mostly throwing periods into the middle of a sentence: “Take care of Saphira. Without her. You’ll find that life is hardly worth living.”
With most of the work going into the techie stuff, the actors seem left pretty much on their own. And even the juxtaposition of shots lack good establishments and significant pacing. The movie loses much on the actual filmic storytelling and digging of emotions. Worse, the performances, whether from first time lead Speelers to the renowned actor Malkovich, end up as if they are trying to look involved while attempting to act through, but things just never gets through. Even death or hugging or any other significant form of touch or looking at each other won’t make the viewers feel anything. It seems like a work of a first time director, focusing more on the technical stuff and losing much grip on the emotions and the actual storytelling. It turns out, he is indeed a first time director.
Stefen Fangmeier is a longtime Industrial Light and Magic veteran, so it’s no surprise that the effects are considerably good and well-detailed. However, in his directorial debut, he often seems to neglect the non-technical details like plotting, blocking, and establishing the shots to push forward the story forward. And such are mainly the weak points that first-time directors suffer on.
Although showcasing some captivating storybook moments and a good enough CG dragon, this big budget fantasy flick lacks good characterization, depth, and emotional complexity. There is no requisite soul to make this epic soar beyond its CG-rendered fire-breather. Moreover, there is no enough warmth and empathy for its characters.
Any hint of narrative complexity or character development is wiped out by the film’s slavishly straightforward storyline. With its director being a veteran special effects wizard, Eragon is rather expected to be scaled on a really good level. Its special effects may seem state-of-the-art, however, it never shows anything the viewers haven’t seen before. The lack of screen magic pulls the film down, losing much of the supposed visual dazzle because of lack of narrative momentum. It becomes too raw for a film epic, it practically works best like an episode of a television series meant for the Disney or Hallmark Channel.
The main character Eragon portrayed by Edward Speleers may initially have that general potential, but his end performance turns out to be quite bland to the point that he gets overshadowed by his dragon and human co-stars, especially with Jeremy Irons playing the role of Brom. Irons tries to act for the movie’s betterment, despite some very lame lines from the script. Further let down most of the performances, Robert Carlyle’s efforts as Durza compensates on what he can work on with all his weak and recycled lines. No doubt, John Malkovich is a well-respected actor. Yet, in Eragon, his role as King Galbatorix merely keeps a boring straight face, just like with Djimon Hounsou acting out the character of Ajihad. Sienna Guillory playing the role of Arya has wooden dialogues as well. She just highlights herself through her non-verbal movements and costumes for her to surface on screen.
Rachel Weisz gives the dragon Saphira enough charm, charisma, and strong will. But some people who have great interest and much resources known about a dragon may find Saphira too child-friendly in looks, words, and overall attitude. While this may be the filmmakers’ intentions, the viewers, in general, find it too hard to suspend their disbelief for the movie to be cinematically acceptable.
Those who love seeing elements like swords, magic, and mythical elements and creatures may get entertained by the visuals. However, this merely ends with the idea of feasting the eyes with things seen on screen, and nothing more.