December 20, 2006 -- This is a standard sword-and-sorcery film based on popular books of the same name. It has some good special effects and some top notch acting talent (Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Robert Carlyle, Djimon Hounsou and Rachel Weisz). The main character, however, is played by plain white bread actor Edward Speleers. The story is strictly average with all the standard sword-and-sorcery plot points covered, the prophecy, the chosen one, the quest, the mentor, the training, learning lessons the hard way, the big battle, etc. You've seen it all before.
In one scene, Eragon (Speleers) wants to go rescue a sweet young thing from the enemy stronghold, even though it is a trap, and his mentor, Brom (Jeremy Irons of “Kingdom of Heaven”) tells him this is a bad idea. This reminds me of the scene in Star Wars where Luke wants to rescue his friends from a city in the sky before he has finished his training, and does, even though Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi tell him it is a bad idea, and it turns out to be a trap. Eragon also discovers he has powers that are a lot like “The Force.” I wonder where they got the idea for this story? While it offers nothing new, it gets a passing grade because it does offer some interesting characters, who are brought to life by some top-notch acting talent.
The plot has the standard coming-of-age, chosen-by-destiny reluctant hero stuff. It also ends abruptly before the big battle with the evil ruler, King Galbatorix (John Malkovich of “The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”). I smell a sequel. It seemed to me that Malkovich was wasted in this film. He's given nothing to do but posture. Ditto for Djimon Hounsou, a fine actor who has what amounts to a cameo role in this film. Irons was good as the boy's mentor, Brom. This is a very meaty role. Rachel Weisz of “The Constant Gardener” ably provided the voice for the digitally-animated dragon. Carlyle of “The Beach” makes an excellent villain as the evil tattooed sorcerer Durza. Sienna Guillory (“Love Actually”) plays Eragon's Platonic love interest, Arya, in a role that starts with nothing and goes nowhere. She's some sort of glorified egg carrier, who is rescued then excuses herself to go off somewhere for some reason at the end of the movie. The film also had some humor in it, which helps pass the time.
Although it is formula filmmaking, it was constructed well enough to earn a marginal passing grade for those who like this kind of story. It appears some studio people thought this film was going to be a big hit. It wasn't. That thinking is what attracted such high calibre acting talent to the project, and why the story is written with a sequel in mind, a sequel that will probably never be made, it appears. It rates a C+.
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