Eragon – Movie Review

There once was a blond-haired boy living on a farm with his uncle. One day, events set into motion by a rebel princess led him to encounter a local older man known for telling stories of a war long past. At the boy’s request, he recounted stories of the legendary order of mystic knights who fought in the last great battle but were defeated by the current, evil emperor. The older man saw in the boy the possible rebirth of this order and took him under his wing. Upon sensing the possible threat, the evil emperor tasked his lieutenant (who was very strong with dark power) to find and kill the boy. After his uncle was killed by agents of the evil lieutenant sent in search of him, the boy followed the older man to try to avenge his uncle by killing the evil lieutenant. On the way, they joined up with the rebel princess and a dark-haired young rogue. Sadly, in combat with the evil lieutenant, the older man lost his life. Spurred on by his mentor’s death, the boy aided the rebels in a major victory against the evil lieutenant. Do you know the name of this boy? It’s not Luke. It’s Eragon; and he has a dragon.

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Going into the movie Eragon, I had already heard about how its story was similar to Star Wars. I hadn’t read the highly successful fantasy novel, so I didn’t know if this was true or just nit-picking from critics who weren’t really a fan of fantasy films to begin with. Now that I’ve seen it, I have to say that the similarities are so rampant and obvious that Eragon could almost be considered a parody or reinvention of the Star Wars story. (There’s even a shot of Eragon looking out at the setting sun. But only one sun this time.) Nevertheless, the movie is set in a totally different context (magic and sorcery rather than spaceships and robots) and there is the major character of Saphira the dragon. She plays an integral role in the life of young Eragon as he is the first dragon rider in a long long time and together they possess great power. (I have to write in that overblown narration style to fit in with the kind of movie this is.)

While I wouldn’t go so far as to compare it to other fantasy flops like Dungeons & Dragons (which featured Jeremy Irons, much like Eragon does) but it’s definitely lightweight in terms of storytelling and script. The characters wrestle with pretty obvious “good vs. evil” issues. There’s none of the psychological or moral complexity found in a movie such as the Lord of the Rings. There’s also no doubt that its big brother Star Wars was a lot more revolutionary and inventive. However, if you’re looking for something to start the kiddies (though not young kiddies) on to whet their appetite for fantasy stories, or just a cinematic snack, Eragon is not bad.

The numerous scenes of dragon flights are pretty spectacular. I’m not sure where the movie was filmed, but the mountain-filled landscape is amazing to look at. The acting is acceptable as well. When characters are given “fantasy-speak”, I think an actor has succeeded pretty much just by keeping the audience from laughing at the dialogue. I am happy to overlook all this movie’s shortcomings to enjoy it and actually look forward to the sequel. Unless the movie has gone far from its source, I am still a bit surprised at the book’s huge success, but being a true fantasy fans as I am, I will not challenge anything that puts dragons on screen. (3.5 out of 5)

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