I admit it. I saw Eragon
Now, I'll warn you that I'm having trouble separating the film's three tasks: cinema, adaptation, beginning of a trilogy. My review, therefore, might be a bit muddled. (I'll also warn you that I'm writing this review like you've read the book and seen the movie. If you've done neither or both, and intend to within the memorable future, stop reading.)
To appreciate this movie, you really have to view it as what it is: the first installment in a trilogy. That's not news, but it's important to remember.
As a movie, Eragon
succeeds. Especially as a dragon movie--no, the beginning of a dragon movie trilogy. If you take it as an entertaining fantasy flick, you won't be disappointed. It doesn't carry the emotional or cinematic punch of, say, Fellowship of the Ring
, but it's a fun ride.
Now, as an adaptation, Eragon falters. It doesn't beat around any bushes--it gets straight to the heart of the story. Unfortunately, in doing so, it avoids most of the story's heart. Indeed, this is certainly the briefest epic I've seen. If LOTR
was too long, Eragon is much too short. There is a lot of cramming, condensing, and cutting in the story. I didn't like the book, but Paolini had his strengths--scenery (What happened to the city under the volcano--the giant, carved crystal rose in its center? As far as that goes, what happened to the dwarves?), philosophy (Alright, the religion is more in Eldest
than Eragon, but the stuff about language and magic and the bond between dragons and their riders is barely discussed.), politics (The Varden vs. Esmerelda issues isn't even mentioned in passing.), battle scenes (Wait, what battle? Was there a battle in this movie?), and minor characters (Eh...the Twins? Angela and her cat? And how about those dwarves, who look remarkably human? Roran & Katrina? The people of Carvahall? Even Murtagh [a fairly substantial character] gets about five minutes of screen time.)--all of which were basically ignored in this film. In fact, most of this movie centers around three characters--Eragon, Brom, and Sapphira, with a little bit of Arya thrown in for romance. Ed Speelers, who plays Eragon, was well cast; he does his character justice. Jeremy Irons does an injustly brilliant portrayal of Brom; indeed, he is arguably the movie's strongest asset, although does do a fine job as Eragon. Which is vital, since he'll actually be in the other two movies. Honestly, Sapphira doesn't get as much attention as she should for this being a dragon movie.
There's a lot of distance edited from the plotline. There are a lot
of substantial changes. I don't remember the details of the book, but there's plenty swept over. So this isn't really an adaptation. This a dragon movie.
Speaking of which, it really is a fun ride, if you can ignore the fact that it isn't the book. There are some engaging scenes, and the showdown between Eragon with Saphira and Durza with his Balrog-like "dark magic" employs some impressive effects. The acting is done well, if there are few characters who are given the opportunity to do so.Eragon
is, before all else, the first of three chapters. Three chapters about a boy and his dragon, and the world they save. (Well, we assume they will save it in Empire
[which I think should be called End
. C'mon, it starts with an E
and everything...]. We don't actually know. Which begs the question, [which could be asked of, say, the Harry Potter series, as well]: How do you write a film based on a story that isn't finished? Meh. Overconfident Hollywood.) This is an interpretation of that story more than it is an adaptaion. Fox basically boils the book down to its bones, adds a little spice, and calls it soup. And it's decent soup...just don't expect pasta.
Labels: review: film