MAY 21, 2013 SCREENING: ERAGON (2006)
Well, this is awkward. Eragon, based on the best selling book by teen novelist Christopher Paolini, was universally panned as a horrible adaptation of the source material. My brother read all three books in the original series, while I had no interest whatsoever, thinking the concept was silly. When the movie came out and was ridiculed, saying it an abomination of source material that was lightweight to begin with, I thought I’d go along with that. The parodies practically wrote themselves, with one review of Eragon noting the movie opening with a narrator telling us the King was lonely and missing his stone, followed by the King himself announcing that he is lonely and misses his stone. Wow, this will be an awful movie, right?
Wrong. I liked Eragon – at least I liked what was presented on screen, and thought the movie accomplished what it was going for. For all you fans of Paolini’s work, I’m afraid I can’t compare it to the novel, so if it’s a total distortion of the source material, I’m sorry. But as a film, it was quite an nice little piece of entertainment.
Our hero, Eragon (whom I always thought was the name of the Dragon but is actually the name of the human protagonist) comes upon a mysterious glowing blue stone, which he discovers is actually a dragon egg when it hatches. The baby dragon communicates with himself telepathically, and he learns that since he hatched the egg, he is now the dragon’s owner and rider. Rachel Weiss voices the dragon, a magnificent creature named Saphira, and she soon grows into a full sized dragon.
Much of the film has to do with the relationship between a dragon and his rider, as Eragon must learn to “be one with the Dragon” (yes, it’s hokey, but it worked on screen with the serious tone of the story), and struggles to reach this ultimate goal which takes years of training before the dragon and its rider are able to coordinate their flight and think together with one mind. Jeremy Irons makes a nice appearance as Brom, a mentor figure who knows about Dragons. Given how I watched a truly awful “Dragon” themed movie a day earlier, which also starred Irons (overacting in Dungeons & Dragons), I can say with absolute authority that Irons and the rest of the cast fit their characters and preformed their roles well in this film, and it was by no means a bad movie.
Eragon is another film that will never be a genre defining classic along the lines of E.T., or even a blockbuster like Harry Potter, and is actually pretty forgettable and lightweight fare. However, what it does, it does well. There were bits of the movie that I disliked, but mostly they were minor complaints – the dragon looked “feathery” like a bird (which, judging by the cover art, wasn’t in the book), the Dragon aging was a bit rushed, John Malkovich was a one-dimensional bad guy in the movie (though given what he had to work with the script, his performance was good). All of these aside, however, Eragon makes a very pleasant and fun fantasy adventure film for the whole family. I don’t even understand the complaints about the movie’s “confusing” ending. I’ve never read the books, and I understood the ending perfectly – the King reveals that he has a rival red dragon who breathes fire, setting up a cliffhanger for a future sequel. (How do I know this? The red dragon was on the cover of the second book). Unfortunately, with all the negativity heaped on Eragon, we will now never get the adaptation of the sequel that was teased at the end of this film.
Whether the book is a timeless classic, I don’t know. But Eragon, as a movie, is okay in my book. I’ve seen lots of movies that come off as “generic Star Wars ripoffs”,and I certainly didn’t get that experience in this movie aside from the “lone hero’s journey” that is part of every fantasy film, and a bit of the “Use the force, Luke” deja vu at the end. Otherwise, Eragon tells its own story, and it’s a darned good one.
** ½ out of ****