Review: Eragon

eragon_cov.jpgYear: 2006
Director: Stefen Fangmeier
Starring: Edward Speleers, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory

A young boy, Eragon, bonds with a dragon, gets hunted by enemies, and then leads rebels in battle against an evil king’s forces.

Eragon lacks charisma. It never takes risks, never breaks outside of its derivative box. I’m all for formulaic action movies with simple plots, but if you take that route with an action movie, carry it off with vigor and panache. Eragon fumbles the ball in all the critical categories: the dull acting, bland script, poor character development, and generic story drain the life out of the movie. Even an impressive dragon and a fair climactic battle can’t rescue it.

As a caveat, your experience may be different if you’ve read the book. Keep in mind that this review is coming from someone who knows nothing about the novel.

eragon_dragon.jpgThe movie does have some high points. Visually, the dragon (Saphira) is excellently done. She moves well, looks great, and is clearly a solid positive in the film. With regards to characterization, however, the dragon disappoints for two reasons: voice and face. It’s not so much that Rachel Weisz, the voice actor, does a poor job; it’s more that her voice doesn’t fit with the dragon. Weisz’s voice is flat, regal, and maternal. This makes Saphira more of a mentor to rather than a partner of Eragon. Her voice weakens the dragon’s characterization, the relationship between rider and mount, and the entire movie. On top of this, Saphira’s facial gestures are cold and distant. This makes it hard to empathize with the dragon in the movie. You have to work to care about her.

Which is exactly what I found myself doing throughout the movie: working to care about anything. Good action movies grab you and sweep you along. Eragon never does that. The only place I found myself intrigued with the movie was during the final battle, which includes a well done, two-dragon dogfight. But even the battle ends abruptly with the end of the dogfight, and the viewer is left again with the feeling that something is lacking.

There are other problems as well. The acting was uninspired. John Malkovich as the evil king was surprisingly clunky. The rest of the cast scowl and deliver their stereotypical lines with with effort but little impact. Again, you have to keep telling yourself to focus on the movie.
Pacing is fair, but slow. The waiter at Applebee’s mistakenly brought me a second 24-ounce beer before the movie—which of course I drank—so I ended up going to the bathroom twice during the movie. Both times, when I came back after five minutes and asked my friend what I missed, he could summarize things with one or two words, usually involving things like “nothing” or “not much”.

With regards to babes and hunks, I did like the lithe Guillory as Arya, and I’m guessing that Speleers, who beat out 180,000 hopefuls to land the part, is fairly attractive to the female persuasion. Otherwise, the eye candy in this movie is weak.

In conclusion, 48 ounces of beer weren’t enough to help this movie. The negatives outnumber the positives, and a miscast voice and weak facial expressions on the dragon’s part drag down an otherwise impressive creature. Such a pity.

Pace: 35
Plot: 38
Action: 50
Consistent Premise: 72
: 17
Characters: 8
Acting: 14
Villain: 22
Body Count:43
Time to First Dead Body: not sure
Babes: 38
Hunks: 47
Explosions: 28
Special Effects: 58
Ending: 49

Overall: 38 (Disposable, unless you are a dragon-movie collector)

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