12.20.2006

Eragon is destined to make you regret spending 8 bucks to go see it

I immediately had my doubts when I learned that fantasy blockbuster Eragon was based on a book written by a home-schooled individual.

I’m not a cruel person, but I tend to look down upon home schooled peoples or “homies,” if you will. They often have pigment deficiencies, thereby making their skin a reflective surface that is too bright to look at directly, and their lack of real-world experience frequently leads to small talk about model airplanes and the relative merits of soy-based products. These side effects of home schooling - albinism and a nunnish lifestyle – are also the main culprits for Eragon’s trite and tired presentation.

Talking about soy products is just one activity more interesting than watching Eragon

Eragon is based on the popular and same-titled book by author Christopher Paolini. Apparently, “Chris” wrote Eragon at the jailbait age of 17 right after finishing his home school “education,” as he and his parents felt he wasn’t quite old enough to go to college. After watching Eragon, I’d have to add that he probably wasn’t old enough to write his own book either.

To be honest, I haven’t read Eragon and I have no doubt that it’s more complex and imaginative than its cinematic counterpart; it’s simply not possible for the book to be more banal than this flick. Eragon plays like an ugly, bastardized conglomeration of Star Wars, Tolkien, and Anne McCaffrey and while those are all excellent sources of inspiration, the end result is less than inspired.

Let’s see a synopsis: A young orphan boy (Star Wars) is destined to be a dragon rider (McCaffrey), and defeat the evil king (every fantasy story ever told). Instead of filling in the blanks with unique characters and compelling scenarios, Eragon chooses to take absolutely no story telling risks and becomes a fantasy adventure movie with no sense of adventure.

To give you a nip of Eragon’s bland offering, I offer a paraphrased explanation for why the young hero (Edward Speleers, whose accent is his best feature) has been chosen to be a dragon rider and deliver the smack down on the evil king (John Malkovich in a role too brief to be awful).
“Eragon, it’s your destiny to be a dragon rider and save the kingdom!”
“But why was I, a simpleton farmer, chosen to save the kingdom?”
“Because it is your duty as a dragon rider. Obviously.”
“But why was I picked to be a dragon rider? I don’t even like animals.”
“Because it’s your destiny, idiot.”
The atrocious dialogue and paper thin characters might’ve been more palatable with some excellent special effects, but for the most part, the SFX are as bland as the plot. With the lone exception of the dragon’s hatching scene, much of the visuals are eerily similar to Dragonheart, which came out nearly ten years ago. And in many cases, travel scenes look like left over stock footage from Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The soundtrack is no better with its loud, brassy, and overly simplistic score.

Now Dragonheart was cool. You can't beat Sean Connery as a reptilian con-artist.

Eragon is clearly the result of an impassioned writer retelling his favorite stories. Unfortunately, without a deeper understanding of what made those stories classics, not to mention the social skills of a five-year old, Chris Paolini could never have given Eragon the wings to get off the ground. In other words, this “homie” was destined for failure.

Eragon doesn’t take any risks and I’d advise you to do the same: don’t see this movie. It might be good enough to fool the kiddies, but adults won’t have that satisfaction. Eragon is just barely out of Ringo territory (1 star out of 4).

7 comments:

SQT said...

I haven't picked up Eragon either. I've heard over and over how derivative the book is, and apparently the movie is the same.

I did pick up the book once and read the first few sentences and immediately put it down. It starts right off with such a cliched description of an elf that I figured it probably wasn't worth bothering with.

Matt said...

sqt - I've flipped through the book and I wasn't impressed with it either. However, some people defend it still so I might read Eragon just to see the differences from the movie.

In a way, Eragon reminds of the Harry Potter series, because I never found any magic in the simplistic Potter books either. However, I've found the Potter movies to be rather good.

SQT said...

I like both the Potter books and movies, and I have been impressed with how well they have done the movies too.

I know people who despise the Potter books because they are a blatant rip-off of some other authors. But I haven't read the books they rip-off so it hasn't bothered me yet.

But the Eragon story does seem like a blatant rip-off of Tolkien and Star Wars. And with such familiar material being copied it's hard to enjoy the supposedly "new" product. I doubt I'll end up getting the books.

Emma said...

It looks fecking awful! I intend on staying well clear of it.

ian said...

I like the way the movies cut out a lot of the extraneous garbage that fills up the Potter books. I call it "Rowlinging" - describing EVERY FUCKING MINUTE of EVERY FUCKING DAY of the main character's life.

Streamlining. It's a good thing.

Ian

Matt said...

sqt - I'm in the same boat. I'm not sure what Harry Potter rips off, but the movies are good enough (read: Hermoine) to capture my interest.

emma - good move. Avoid Eragon unless you want to make fun of a bad movie. In that respect, this flick provides some good material.

ian - I read the first potter book and then the first few pages of the second. I was so bored that I swore to never read another page of it. The first movie was equally boring, but the subsequent ones have been surprisingly good (read: again, Hermoine).

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