"Eragon" not quite ready for the big time.

by JD Warnock on December 16, 2006

in Print Reviews

“Eragon” is certainly a kids movie, but unlike “Harry Potter” or “Chronicles of Narnia” it doesn’t hold appeal for audiences young and old. I haven’t spoken with any ten-year-olds about “Eragon,” but I imagine even they would say this movie is for kids.

With its characters and central narrative lifted almost directly from “Star Wars” and

”Eragon’s” visual palette taken from Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings Trilogy” – sadly, instead of Middle-Earth “Eragon” succeeds only at finding middle-ground – this new fantasy film from first-time feature director Stefan Fangmeier is both a letdown and a bit of a mystery. The more I think about it, the more I’m surprised the studio released the film in its current state. It appears to be unfinished and poorly executed at best.

Like both “Pirates of the Caribbean” films “Eragon” feels like a segment in a series. The “Pirates” movies are well done and can stand on their own, but “Eragon” cannot and seems uneven, like an early cut missing pick-up shots and another pass at a final edit. Instead of leaving the audience wanting more, “Eragon” holds no mystique or intrique for what is to come beyond this first installment. Which doesn’t bode well for the franchise this is so obviously hoping to become.

The screenplay is dull and incredibly juvenile which leaves the film underdeveloped despite its below average running-time of 103 minutes. By current standards Fangmeier had another half-hour to play with and should have used it. Marquee names like Malcovich and Hounsu phoned in their mediocre performances, Malcovich is in quick scenes throughout, but remains on a single set the entire film. Hounsu has more dialogue than usual, but can’t make much out of a minimal and seemingly unimportant role. “Eragon” may play well with super-young audiences, but their parents won’t be having any fun in the process. The kid in you will be fussy and complaining, right along with the actual kid sitting next to you – not exactly the stuff the studio is looking for to launch a new blockbuster institution now is it?

Apparently, the novel “Eragon” that began the series of books, soon to follow as sequels to the film, was written by a teenager named Christopher Paolini. No one wants to absolutely pants a story written by a kid for kids – if for no other reason than because its something to be admired and encouraged and most certainly not to be held up to the normal standard applied to seasoned professionals, who regularly do a fine job at sucking. So, in the way of fairness and reasonable critique, for a young writer “Eragon” is a good start, we’ll hope the stories, and therefore movies, get better as Paolini has grown and developed his obvious talent.

Since there is sure to be a next time, we’ll hope the producers see their way to creating a sequel that makes us forget all about the first one. They may want to call over to Skywalker Ranch and see if George Lucas has any Jedi mind-tricks left over to help audiences forgive a bad start to a successful franchise in the making.

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