Sunday, August 5, 2007

DVD: Eragon

Eragon (2006)
Directed by:
Stefen Fangmeier (Debut, mainly an FX guy)
Starring: Ed Speleers, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Robert Carlyle


In his homeland of Alagaesia, a farm boy happens upon a dragon's egg -- a discovery that leads him on a predestined journey where he realized he's the one person who can defend his home against an evil king. (IMDB.COM)

Based on the books, this movie was set to be a big blockbuster to compete with the likes of Lord of the Rings. However, the fantasy tome come celluloid reminded me more of that horrible big screen adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons, just not nearly THAT bad.

Eragon had a few things going against it. A director with no experience, a lead actor also with no experience who needed to be much stronger in his role than he was, an evil King played by John Malkovich (aka the worst casting in the history of the movie industry...John fire your agent now), and a misplaced Jeremy Irons who was amazing but needed the support of more than just a CGI dragon (which looked incredible by the way).

There's no denying all the effects in this film were stunning, including a fight that took place in mid air and involved magicians battling it out. The film was directed by an SFX man with no experience as a lead Director in a feature film, hence the amazing visuals. What disappointed me was the cheesy costumes, horrid acting by the miscast Malkovich (he's normally stupendous and yes I do like him) and the choppy nature of the script. You could tell, as in most books-to-film, they were skipping over the unnecessary things that readers of the book would understand. Unfortunately in this film it wasn't just obvious, but glaringly so.

Despite this, I had some enjoyment watching the film. The ever-lovable Rachel Weisz voiced Saphira the Dragon, who looked so incredible I had to go back and watch certain parts just to grasp the enormity of it. It's a shame that a movie can't just rely on CGI (see Star Wars eps 1-3 as they are called now). While the lead character was charming, he had neither the experience or expression in his performance to convince me that he was really there and it was all really happening. I did, I admit sheepishly, shed a tear or two in the film mainly in 'the dragon might be hurt' scenes. Therefore it gets my 'stirred emotion' tick.

I'd like a moment now to reach out to all casting directors and film-makers in general. When you are making a movie where it is clear that everyone should be English, do not use 2 Americans and an Australian who either refuse to do an accent because they are too good (ie Malkovich) or just can't do an English accent. This ruins the illusion for all of us movie goers that pay to watch your stuff! So stop it now and make sure that your cast look and sound the part. It can't be that difficult!

Ok now that I've had my rant, I'd like to say that Eragon would be nicely viewed on a Saturday afternoon if you have a nice big TV and Sound System to appreciate the amazing special effects. Make a mental note to switch your brain off before watching.

I know it sounds as though I'm being cruel, but the fact is the movie had a whole lot of heart, and to me that speaks more than any accent or costume or fancy director can. I have to say though if Dragons are your thing, go for Dragon Heart (1996). The effects are still believable and the other elements that Eragon was missing, might be found here instead.

ERAGON GETS 2.5/5 Dragon Stars!

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