Sunday, July 8, 2007

Eragon Flys Low

*1/2 out of ****

Last holiday season, we were treated to some terrific big-budget action films which were The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and King Kong. However this year we weren’t so lucky only receiving Eragon, a Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings hybrid which is flawed at best and nothing more than a special effects extravaganza that soon become tiring; something we learned this year from Mission: Impossible 3.

Stefen Fangmeier, a special effects master who helmed such hit projects as Terminator 2, Twister, Jurassic Park, and even 2004s holiday hit Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, makes his directorial debut with Eragon. However he brings little to the screen and his style of filming is so mish-mashed that it seems like your watching a tennis match.

Eragon is an adaptation of the book Eragon, written by Christopher Paolini, the first-part of the Inheritance trilogy.

The movie begins with a voice-over telling us how the land of Alagaesia once was a peaceful land of dragon riders and the Varden, a community of people who now live in secrecy in the mountains. However, one rider turned on all of the others, King Galbatorix (John Malkovich), and took over the land, killing all of the riders and their dragons.

The story starts when Arya (Sienna Guillory) steals a dragon egg from Galbatorix who sends his evil-doer, Durza (Robert Carlyle) a sorcerer possessed by demons to regain its possession. Joining Durza there are the Razac, a type of mummy looking creature, and the Urgals who look like WWE zombie wrestlers. But, just before Durza gets the egg Arya transports it before being caught as Durza’s prisoner.

Cut-to, Eragon (Edward Speleers), who goes hunting and finds the sapphire dragon egg, but thinks it, is a stone. To Eragon’s surprise it hatches into a sapphire colored dragon named oddly enough, Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz) who in a matter of days turns gargantuan. When Saphira hatched an E shaped scar formed on Eragon’s hand, the insignia of a dragon rider. Saphira is a mother-like figure to Eragon to whom they communicate to each other through thoughts.

Eragon soon meets a fellow villager, Brom (Jermey Irons) who is secretly a dragon rider, however his dragon got slaughtered. Brom soon becomes Eragon’s mentor. Galbatorix finds out about this and sends his army to kill both Eragon, Brom and Saphira.

Brom and Eragon now have to save Arya, go to the Varden to help fight their war against Galbatorix’s army, kill Durza, and end King Galbatorix’s reign of terror.

The acting in Eragon seems robotic and Edward Speelers, making his cinematic debut, seems more like a California Surfer than a Dragon Rider. Also making an acting debut is Grammy nominee Joss Stone, who plays a fortune-teller, but should stick to singing. The story is choppy and the ending is abrupt. Eragon would take flight better if it stay detailed to the book.
The saving grace in Eragon is its special effects which are great and Saphira looks breath-taking. The action scenes for a PG film were well-staged but could have been extended; they will probably show up though on the DVD release.

In the end, instead of paying $10 to watch Eragon I would prefer to buy the book.

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