Ed Speleers in Eragon (2006)

Dragon Wars

"Star Wars", giant blue jelly beans and dragons are some of the words which came to mind as I watched "Eragon" a movie which I had put off watching for a long time as what I had heard about it did little for me. Now in fairness this sort of fantasy movie has never been my sort of thing but when done well I can usually manage to watch if not always be fully engaged by what is going on but "Eragon" struggled from start to finish. And the reason why is because it is cliche, drawing on ideas I had seen in other greater movies and failing to deliver the action and adventure as well as the special effects to get me gripped.

King Galbatorix (John Malkovich) was once a dragon rider before greed got the better of him and he betrayed his friends by killing his dragon riding rivals to becoming King of Alagaesia. Many moons later Eragon (Ed Speleers), who lives with his Uncle, comes across a blue stone and discovers that it is in fact an egg when a dragon called Saphira hatches. In doing so starts to fulfil an ancient prophecy as Eragon under the guidance of Brom (Jeremy Irons - The Time Machine); the town's eccentric becomes a dragon rider. This leads Eragon into the path of the rebels who together unite to try and defeat Galbatorix and his evil sorcerer Durza (Robert Carlyle - The 51st State).

Jeremy Irons in Eragon (2006)

I reckon after "The Godfather" the movie which I have watched the most is "Star Wars" and that means I am incredibly familiar with the story. Because of that I couldn't help but notice some similarities between "Eragon" and "Star Wars" and just to highlight a few; Eragon like Luke was raised by his Uncle, he ends up being mentored by Brom a character whose mysterious eccentricity makes him a bit Obi-Wan like and we also have a dark lord who uses a chief henchman to wage his wars which means Durza is not too unlike Darth Vader. It's not just in the characters but there are scenes as well which seem to have drawn on "Star Wars" such as when young Eragon is wistfully looking at the setting sun feeling influenced by a scene where Luke looks at the setting suns.

Now in fairness it is not just a fantasy reimagining of "Star Wars" but "Eragon" ends up feeling painfully derivative which might be fine for those who prefer dragon fantasy to sci-fi but ends up weak for fans of "Star Wars". But that is not the only issue with the movie as whilst there are a surprising number of good actors involved in the movie such as John Malkovich, Robert Carlyle and Jeremy Irons in Ed Speleers they have the wrong actor. Now I haven't seen Speleers in anything else so maybe he has gone on to become a good actor but here he is simply wooden, delivering lines with no believable conviction which might not be an issue for a young audience but makes him weak for adults. But it is not just Speleers which is wrong as Rachel Weisz as the voice of Saphira was distracting and for me didn't fit.

But there is more which is wrong with "Eragon" as the action and special effects also are less than spectacular with scenes featuring Eragon riding the dragon looking like they have come from a computer game. In fairness the dragon on its own be it as a hatchling or as a grown up is not bad but when placed next to a human looks wrong.

What this all boils down to is that for a young audience "Eragon" might just work but for anyone else it ends up both weak and derivative and frankly a bit of a slog to watch.