R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E dir Stefen Fangmeier
scr Peter Buchman
with Edward Speleers, Rachel Weisz, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, John Malkovich, Djimon Hounsou, Garrett Hedlund, Alun Armstrong, Chris Egan, Gary Lewis, Joss Stone
release UK/US 15.Dec.06
06/UK Fox 1h44

Dressed to kill: Speleers and Guillory

weisz irons carlyle

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Eragon "I suffer without my stone!" Alas, this film never quite lives up to the camp potential of that opening line; it takes itself far too seriously. But it's still an enjoyably bad movie.

In the land of AlagaŽsia, Eragon (Speleers) is a 17-year-old farm boy who finds a dragon egg in the woods, which hatches into Saphira (voiced by Weisz). They're a pair: he is her rider, and his destiny is to help the rebels fight against the tyrant Galbatorix (Malkovich) who once killed all the riders. He does this with the help of a grizzled rider-in-hiding (Irons), a feisty woman (Guillory) and a handsome stranger (Hedlund). All while Galbatorix's evil henchman (Carlyle) uses his considerable power to try and stop them.

If the story sounds familiar, it's probably because you've seen Star Wars. And so, clearly, has Christopher Paolini, who wrote the novel as a teen, and director Fangmeier, who indulges in several direct Star Wars visual echoes. That it's set in a Lord of the Rings-like otherworld isn't fooling anyone, but at least it makes it more fun playing spot-the-parallel. The film looks intriguing--moody, arch and, with all the leather outfits, like a special episode of Xena: Warrior Princess.

It also helps to have A-list actors willing to do anything for a buck. Irons gets all the ludicrous expository dialog, endlessly explaining everything to Eragon (and us). Carlyle gets the best makeup, with flame-red hair, black teeth and vile facial scarring, and obviously relishes playing a towering villain. And And Malkovich (who probably spent all of two hours on the set) blurts his dialog hilariously. Meanwhile, Speleers is so smiley and pretty that he seems to have drifted in from a teen comedy, while Guillory at least tries to amp up her tough-girl role in between being captured or injured.

This is one of those silly fantasies in which each conversation introduces some random bit of mythology, such as "the secret language of the elves". The elves? Just go with it. It's clunky and over-earnest, simplistic and staggeringly stupid (wouldn't you blast the invading army with fire before they reached your town, rather than after they arrived?). But it's also rather good fun.
By the way, that opening line refers to the dragon egg. And this is only the first in a planned trilogy.

cert PG themes, violence 11.Dec.06

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Eragon Christine, New York: 4/5 "I thought the story was a bit rushed (which is wierd since the book is apparently so good.) and sometimes cheesy, but all in all it was far better than I thought it would be and I was richly entertained. I loved the depth of character represented in the dragon and that it was a female. Of course that is coming from a female fantasy fan, so I am biased. Due to the rushed state of the story, there wasn't much time for character development, but they were okay. I really liked it and will probably see it again. I would love to see more creatures in the next one, but I figured they spent most of their FX budget on the dragon which was definitely lovely to look at. If you like dragons at all, I highly advise seeing this movie. I hope you enjoy it too." [15.Dec.06]

T.J., Texas: 2/5 "The movie itself was at least good, and fun to watch I suppose. But, if you've read the book several times, have been anticipating this movie for over 6 months at the least, kept up to date with all the movie details and everything, you will be very sadly disappointed. I was steaming with anger within the first 10 mins of the movie. Several characters, even key characters, are not shown nor mentioned in the movie and several events were passed up. I understand they had to condense the length of the book, but seriously. The movie was 1hr 39mins long. I would of rather had a 3hr long movie like Lord of the Rings, than have this wonderful book cut down like this." [15.Dec.06]

alexx854, email: 1/5 "I saw this film, it was not even worth the money to see it, it has a storyline that was almost as if it was made during fliming, and the actors were poorly picked." [30.Dec.06]

© 2006 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall