Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Sunday, 20 March 2011
As chosen before he was even born, farmboy Eragon's (Ed Speleers) life is changed when he finds an egg that hatches into dragon Saphira (Rachel Weisz), and he learns that he must lead Alagaesia to victory against evil King Galbatorix (John Malkovich).
Visually, this is not a bad film. Although the sets are a little too shabby and cheap to work well, the special effects are quite good - a high note being Durza (Robert Carlyle) forming a dragon through dark magic. As for the aerial sequences of Eragon flying Saphira, they are so fast-paced and well edited that a great swooping feeling awakes within you as you watch them. A lot of magic though is lost thanks to the makeup that creates the Urgals. They are not made to look like the brutish monsters that you build up in your mind reading the book, but basically very ugly rugby players with an IQ of -100, and no battle skill. Are we really meant to believe that they leave thousands fearing for their lives?
As a film there is barely anything else worthwhile to be honest. Here we are offered a 400 page teenage fiction, crammed into 100 minutes of entertainment for 8-year-olds, and simple minded 8-year-olds at that. We are given a very rushed narrative which whizzes from one over-too-quickly event to the next without pausing to provide character or event development or make anything at all memorable, so these events are just overlapping each other to try and make some visual spectacle and get anything even semi-serious over as fast as possible.
The lack of development saddens me as I have been a huge fan of the books for about five years now, and the books are most of all about Eragon and Saphira's journey, and how it develops them from a foolish farmboy and baby dragon to an all-time great Dragon Rider and a fierce, yet elegant adult dragon. NONE OF THAT IS IN THE FILM! And (no surprise) no character substance leads to poor performances. Speleers acts the over-cocky teen a bit too much and makes any kind, serious moments wooden and bland. As Murtagh, Garrett Hedlund tries too hard to play a bad attitude, that they may as well just give him a stick of bubblegum and be done with it. Jeremy Irons makes mentor Brom too wistful, resulting in there being nothing wise, mysterious or even half serious about the character. And Carlyle hams Durza up so much he is little more than a Disney villain, and a weak one at that. Don't get me wrong, I love Disney villains, but they only work in Disney cartoons.
So, all I say is this - don't waste your money getting a copy of this film, but instead by the book. The book offers a powerful fantasy, while all this film offers is a bit of swordfighting and dragon flying with nothing powerful about it.
Stars: Ed Speleers, Rachel Weisz, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Irons, Garrett Hedlund, Djimon Hounsou, John Malkovich, Alun Armstrong, Chris Egan, Caroline Chikezie, Joss Stone, Gary Lewis, Steven Spiers.
Saturn nominations: Best Fantasy Film, Best Performance by a Younger Actor (Ed Speleers).