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  Publicity Stills of "Eragon"
(Courtesy from 20th Century Fox)

Genre: Action/Fantasy
Director: Stefen Fangmeier
Starring: Edward Speleers, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, Djimon Hounsou,
Garrett Hedlund, and John Malkovich
RunTime: 1 hr 44 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG
Opening Day: 13 December 2006

Synopsis :

Based on the best-selling novel by Christopher Paolini, this is an epic fantasy-adventure about a young farm boy named Eragon whose destiny is revealed with the help of a dragon. Eragon, now a Dragon Rider, is swept into a world of magic and power, discovering that he can save – or destroy – an Empire.

Movie Review:

Having read the fantasy novel by Christopher Paolini (who was 15 when he wrote this), I have to admit that I had mixed reactions when I first learnt that they were going to do a movie version of this story. Seeing the big blue dragon, Saphira, come alive digitally on screen was going to be remarkable if the CGI was top notch. On the other hand, in the wake of epic fantasy movies such as Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia, Eragon certainly had humongous shoes to fill.

For those who have read the book and are familiar with the whole fantasy genre, it would be evident that Eragon (the novel) borrowed many themes and comparable storylines from the great classics of Tolkein, JK Rowling, Anne McCaffrey and even Star Wars. With that in mind, I had expected that the four screenwriters credited to this movie would attempt to do something more original to differentiate itself. However, referring to the artwork for the Eragon poster, it is obvious how strikingly similar it is to the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire poster. One can only hope that the movie adaptation doesn’t follow in the same footsteps.

The story begins when a young farm boy Eragon (Edward Speleers) finds a peculiar blue stone while hunting in the forbidden lands of the tyrant King Galbatorix (John Malkovich). After failing to trade it for meat, he brings it home and soon learns that it’s an egg after a blue dragon hatches.

It doesn’t take long before the King Galbatorix finds out and dispatches his henchmen to search and kill Eragon. Unaware of chosen his fate as a Dragon Rider, it is an old storyteller named Brom (Jeremy Irons) who helps and guides him to his destiny. Together they set out on a quest to join the last of the rebel resistance, the Vardan, where he must eventually lead them to overthrow the evil king.

The real star of the movie is actually not Edward Speleers (who just happens to look very much like the young Darth Vader, Hayden Christensen) who plays Eragon often with an astounded or blank expression in almost every scene, but the dragon Saphira, voiced by Rachael Weisz. The CGI does not disappoint here, and the viewers are treated to realistic and spectacular scenes when it comes to Saphira. Jeremy Irons is excellent as Brom, saving the almost cheesy dialogue scenes with Eragon into something that appears to be truly genuine and insightful. John Malkovich doesn’t appear much in the film and he’s more like a cameo at this point of the series, but when he does, he chills the moments with absolute malice and evil that doesn’t go over the top, but still packed with a lethal punch.

First-time director Stefen Fangmeier is a special effects supervisor who has worked on numerous movies, such as Lemony Snicket, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Saving Private Ryan and Signs, knows how to keep the action going as the scenes move from one to another at fast pace. For a fantasy movie, clocking only 104 mins, this would be considered as the shortest one ever made. More time should have been given to improve on the pacing and character development to help give the story more depth.

Followers of the novel will probably be disappointed with some of the changes, along with the things that got left out, but in the end, this movie is entertaining enough if you’re not expecting too much. It should be noted that ultimately the target audience for this is movie is probably more for the younger crowd and action movie fans.

Movie Rating:

(If you just want your standard popcorn entertainment flick that banks on great action and CGI, this is it. Don’t count on this one for originality)

Review by Jolene Tan


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