Erica Hector Vital
Red Rock Review
Las Vegas Round The Clock
Eragon--A Dragon’s Tale Without Much Fire
Review by Erica Vital
My nine-year-old is a fantasy fan. Dragons, elves, swords, fire, young
heroes with great ambitions and troubled pasts. Give my boy that and he’s
there which is why we’ve anticipated the opening of the film based on the
best-selling fantasy series, ERAGON, for over a year now. I am sad for my
boy to report the anticipation was better than the real thing.
In yet another orphaned child tale, we find our hero living with an uncle on
an idyllic farm somewhere in Middle Earth, I mean Alagaesia. Our young hero,
Luke Skywalker or is it Bilbo Baggins, goes a’hunting and through a feat of
magic stumbles across a luminous orb which turns out to be a dragon’s egg.
Our hero’s find is not
without its costs as the soldiers of an evil king, Galbatorix, played
without much luster or enthusiasm by the elusive John Malkovich come looking
for the boy and the dragon hatchling. Like the book itself, the film is full
of twists and turns that while magical on the page are stilted, confusing
and bloodless on screen.
Whether it is the young actor Edward Speleer himself, or the little he is
given to work with in the screenplay, there is something missing in his
portrayal of Eragon. Perhaps there is simply not enough to grab on to in the
golden curls and wide eyes. Perhaps it is simply that we’ve seen the same
wide-eyed, golden savior of an ancient world one too many times. At any
rate, I didn’t much care what happened to the boy. I just wanted to see him
ride that crazy dragon.
And what a dragon it is.
The highlight for me and my boy were those moments Saphira took to the sky,
let alone landed with a heavy, earth quaking grace that made us wish dragons
did indeed roam the earth. Employing the dulcet toned voice of award-winning
actress Rachel Weisz is perhaps the smartest and most creative choice
director Stefen Fangmeier makes in a film that in its setting, score and
even in costume, is at best a dull approximation of the Lord of the Rings
The other brilliant
choice was veteran actor Jeremy Irons. Thin as a blade and twice as sharp in
reflexes and handling of rough dialogue, Irons’ Brom is a disillusioned
ex-dragon rider with a tragic tale of his own and he is the true hero of the
film. Eragon may trade in his modest farm boy garb for the fancier gear of a
warrior as he becomes the legendary rider the Varden have long been waiting
for but it is Brom who undergoes a hero’s transformation. As Irons steals
scene after scene, he becomes the savior here.
Robert Carlyle (TRAINSPOTTING
and THE FULL MONTY) does what he can with his role as the villainous Durza.
Djimon Hounsou as the leader of the Varden is wasted. Nothing for him to do
but look the part of a warrior which he does naturally. Sienna Guillory is
radiant as the Princess Arya but the director feels the need to conceal from
us the fact that she is an elf. Perhaps he, or the screenwriter who is the
original author of the book, knew that to impart this character’s elfin
lineage would not help to make her more believable or interesting so why
Aside from Djimon,
Jeremy and the dragon, the only other face of interest belonged to Garrett
Helund of TROY and FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. He is the dark-haired and roguish
Murtagh here and there is something mischievous as well as beguiling in the
look of his secondary character that is missing in the title-lead.
My boy tells me there
will be more of Murtagh as there is some history behind the
friendship/rivalry between him and the hero, Eragon. He also tells me there
should be dwarves and more elves in ELDEST the sequel to ERAGON, also
written by Christopher Paolini. My nine-year-old, though disappointed in
some respects, will wait anxiously for that pseudo-fantasy flick as well. I
will wait with him for the simple fact that “there be dragons.” And who can
resist a dragon, even without the fire.