Originally posted by: Darth_Evil
Here's my review of Eragon, as I promised earlier. Keep in mind it was written for a kids site. I know many of you don't really like the book, but its one that I really love, despite it being fairly unoriginal in plot structure. I think that fact is very easy to overlook while reading it, for me anyway, and just enjoy the book.
BTW I went to the movie Deja Vu tonight, and when it was over I looked in on a showing of Eragon. The theater was packed. I guess the less than enthusiastic reviews haven't stopped the masses.
(**) (Two Stars out of four.)
Last Cristmas season, I learned that two books that I loved would be hitting theaters in 2006. The first being Anthony Horowitz’ Stormbreaker, the first in the Alex Rider series, in the summer. Then, at Christmas, Christopher Paolini’s Eragon would hit theaters. I was thrilled. As I researched the films and the casting, saw pictures, and eventually watched trailers, I was slowly slipping into the mind frame that Stormbreaker would be awful and Eragon would be excellent. I’d always through Jeremy Irons as Brom would be perfect casting, and he was cast in the role. Ed Speelers as Eragon also looked promising. The casting of Stormbreaker looked simply awful.
Then I saw Stormbreaker this summer, and was pleasantly surprised at how good it was. Was it anywhere near as good as the book? No. Not at all. But it was an entertaining action film, and could have been much worse. But still, I patiently anticipated Eragon, my hopes still very high.
How wrong I was.
The book of Eragon, though fairly unoriginal in many aspects, is an excellent book, and so is its sequel, Eldest (part 3 will hit shelves next year). I heartily recommend both books.
The story of Eragon is that a young farm boy, Eragon, finds a blue polished stone in the forest while hunting. The stone is actually an egg, and it hatches into a dragon. Eragon becomes the new dragon rider. Dragon riders were warriors that protected the land and its people until the evil rider Galbatorix betrayed them and took over the land as King. Now Eragon, with the help of storyteller/wise-man Brom, must liberate the land before Galbatorix crushes it with his mighty fist of evil.
I thought that any movie based on the book would naturally be very good. Well, this is an example of when good books become bad movies. The core problem of the film is the horrible, no good adaptation. The book is 500 pages, each one packed with story, but the film is little over 90 minutes. Without even seeing the film, you know there’s a problem.
Roughly 80 percent of the book was omitted from the film. Changing and editing a story for a movie is a good thing, or else the movie doesn’t work. But 80 percent goes too far, especially when what remains of the story is simplified and changed.
Each and every character is horrendously under-developed. We do not get to know these characters. We never figure out what drives them, nor what their personalities are like, except for the old wise-man Brom, portrayed by Jeremy Irons. (More on that later.) The plot is under-developed, and many of the removals of plot parts create plot holes big enough to drive trucks through, and also effectively prevent the filmmakers doing Eldest without changing the entire plot.
There were some good choices in the adaptation. For instance, in the book, Eragon is attacked many times by King Galbatorix’s forces, but we do not find out who is sending them until the end. In the movie, we see Galbatorix and his flunky, Durza, directing the armies, and it works very well. John Malkovich plays Galbatorix, and does a fairly good job in his under five minutes of on screen time.
The acting is awful on everyone else’s part, except Jeremy Irons, who I have nothing but praise for. His acting is not just good, it is excellent, and he steals the show, taking the film and running away with it. He’s the reason this movie didn’t get one star.
A worldwide casting search was done to find the right actor for Eragon. And what we get is unknown Ed Speelers, blundering through the movie with strange and often disturbing facial expressions, awkward if not just awful line delivery, and the screen presence of a gerbil. If this is what a worldwide casting search yields, then maybe they should look in a smaller vicinity.
Arya, the elf maiden who Eragon saves, is portrayed by Sienna Guillory, who has very few acting skills. She thinks she can act though, and it comes off as an arrogant, strange, and below average performance. The character of Murtagh, a fan favorite, is criminally underused, only put in to the movie to make fans happy. In reality, it probably would have been better to leave him out if pleasing fans was the aim. He is so underused it makes you want to cry, and I never really was able to form an opinion on the acting of the character.
And yet my biggest gripe with the film is the execution of the dragon Saphira. The CGI was fairly impressive, but for some reason, they fashioned the dragon to look like an overgrown and deformed eagle. Feathers on the wings of a dragon? Who cares if it’s far from what Paolini described her as. That’s just weird.
Saphira is voice by Rachel Weisz, recently seen in the film “The Fountain.” She probably worked less than a day on the voice over, and obviously she did not care about making a good performance at all. She plays Saphira as somewhat of a protective mother/whiny teenager. Saphira is a powerful, strong presence, not a weak voice mothering type.
Saphira is treated by the writers as a little side character, almost just tagging along for the adventure. In the book, Saphira is just as important as Eragon. Dragons and their riders were two equal sides of a whole, dragons being equally sophisticated and intelligent as the other races like men, dwarves, or elves. But in the movie, Saphira is practically Eragon’s tool, his slave, who does what he wishes whenever he wishes it.
Another gripe is the ungodly cheesy and stupid ending. Eragon and Arya have a vomit-educing little chat before he rides into the sunset. It was painful to watch.
But after this came a twenty second pre-credits scene which was excellent, and I won’t give it a way. It sets up the Eldest film, assuming they make it. However, if I were Paolini, I would not let them do it unless he had almost absolute control on the script and the casting. Who cares about series continuity? I’d recast the whole darn movie.
I would not recommend seeing this if you’ve read the book. You will hate it. If you haven’t read the book, you may enjoy it. The families in the audience did. But most will find it very cheesy and stupid. I’d recommend buying and reading the book, which will last longer and will be much more enjoyable for all ages. But if you do see the movie, don’t take kids under 7. There’s some violence, though most of it happens with sound effects, another gripe I have with the film.
The books are fairly graphic and very violent. The movie is rated PG. Without seeing it, that should tell you something about the movie. The action is weak because all the violence is implied rather then shown, except in rare cases.
So in short, the book is better by about a hundred fold. But if you are curious, go and see it. You’ll find some entertainment value, if not soley from Iron’s excellent performance. However, most will probably walk out halfway through. I know I felt like it.
Sounds about right. But I didn't read this until AFTER seeing the film today. Oh well, live & learn.