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A start to yet another trilogy
Jeremy Irons and Edward Speleers Star in "Eragon".
OPENING WEEKEND: $51,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $194,000,000
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

June 18th, 2006: In a mystical forest in his homeland of AlagaŽsia, a young farm boy named Eragon (Edward Speleers) discovers a gorgeous and rare blue stone. To get himself and his poor family through the harsh winter, Eragon hopes to trade it in for some food supplies. To his astonishment, a spectacular dragon hatches from what was not a stone, but rather an egg. Until now, the dragonís race was thought to be extinct and the boy realizes that he has stumbled onto a discovery of legendary proportions. He names the hatchling Saphira and quickly bonds with the amazing creature. However, his simple life is shattered overnight when his family is brutally murdered by the dark forces that roam the kingdom. Guided by an elderly storyteller named Brom (Jeremy Irons), with only an ancient sword for a weapon, Eragon learns of his destiny as a Dragon Rider. In a land shrouded in war between humans, elves, dwarves, and other beings, Eragon and Saphira search for their role in bringing peace to the politically and socially unstable empire. Their greatest enemy will be the wicked King Galbatorix (John Malkovich), a former Dragon Rider, who chose a life fueled by evil, greed, and power and destroyed the legendary Dragon Riders that once protected AlagaŽsia. Eragon may be the kingdomís final hope.

What to Expect: Although I will freely admit that I have never been truly impressed by Peter Jacksonís Lord of the Rings Trilogy and that I am not fond of Hollywoodís subsequent tendency to invest in epic Fantasy series, I can honestly say that I am awed that Eragon, the book on which this film is based, was written by a teenager. Itís not the story that I am amazed by, but rather the idea of the young author in the process of writing a novel, from concept to publication.

Article continues below

Christopher Paolini, who was born in 1983, started working on Eragon, or more specifically a whole trilogy of books, at the age of 15. Inspired by authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, and Anne McCaffrey, Paolini took a month to plot out the entire series. Fueled by his love for fantasy tales, he began writing in his notebook and eventually transferred his work onto a computer. The first draft of Eragon, which began purely as a hobby, took a year to write and another one to revise. After allowing his parents to read the book, Paolini and his family decided to self-publish the novel, spending the majority of the third year on additional editing, cover design, and marketing. During the following year, the family went on quite a drastic promotional campaign that involved engaging presentations given by Christopher at local schools and libraries. The novel hit bookstores late in 2002, right smack in the middle of the Lord of the Rings film phenomenon, and eventually became an international bestseller. Eldest, Paoliniís second book in his Inheritance Trilogy was published just last year and has yet to be optioned for a feature. No doubt the producers are cautiously trying to see how well Eragon will perform.

Lawrence Konner (Mighty Joe Young, Planet of the Apes, Mona Lisa Smile) and Peter Buchman (Jurassic Park III) adapted the novel to the screen. Both have had careers that consist of relatively positive, although rather unremarkable credits. Stefen Fangmeier makes his directorial debut after serving as the assistant director on Galaxy Quest and Dreamcatcher. His credits also include some of the most dazzling features ever made on which he served as a Visual Effects Supervisor. Technically, he is more than ready for this type of project, but compared to the 3 individual directors who worked on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter series, and the latest The Chronicles of Narnia, he seems drastically inexperienced. Perhaps the threat of a disaster would be much smaller if a veteran filmmaker was hired to look over the project. The generous $100 million budget from 20th Century Fox should help things a little.

The actors certainly fulfill all the essential criteria of casting a fantasy epic. Of course, first the unknown young performer must be chosen for the part of the protagonist (see Daniel Radcliffe). In this case, Edward Speleers enters the picture with a completely blank slate. Remarkably, he beat out 180,000 other applicants to win the role. Judging from the first few clips, he seems to be a good fit. Since Sir Ian McKellen was not available for the part of the wise elder (he was offered the part, but turned it down), producers had to seek out another seasoned veteran. Jeremy Irons steps in to save the day and the Oscar winning thespian should be an elegant fit for Brom. Outside of Christopher Walken, who would be altogether inappropriate for this production, it would be difficult to find a more outrageous villain than the uncanny John Malkovich. Ever since his turn in the madcap Being John Malkovich, Iíve looked forward to his colorful performances. Finally, singer Joss Stone makes her acting debut in Eragon. She will play Angela the herbalist, a character that is loosely based on the authorís sister.

Eragon is a model of heroism and struggle between good and evil. The spectacular locations, the dangerous villains, and the thrilling adventure are all the types of marvels that fantasy lovers cannot resist. With locations like AlagaŽsia, Tronjheim, Du Weldenvarden, and creatures like Shades and Urgalls that are all interwoven intricately enough to require intense focus and memory, the books certainly require a trilogy in order to provide adequate time for the necessary familiarization. Although many have been impressed with Paoliniís ability to map it all out, some have also argued that the book is relatively poorly written. It is only natural that a teenagerís wild imagination could spawn some fascinating ideas, but still lack the expertise to put it all together into a full length novel. The good news is that the book could actually result in a superior movie. Early footage has been well received, thanks largely to the chemistry between the cast members and to the sprawling environments, reminiscent of the New Zealand terrains that were featured so prominently in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In Conclusion: The film is being hyped as the next great fantasy adventure and if you are a fan of fantasy you are sure to enjoy another epic tale of one young heroís journey as he learns about destiny, magic, war, and love. The vast and expansive landscapes and the dazzling special effects are sure to make this a tremendous Holiday hit. Personally, I find it a bit too derivative. Anything in Eragon that somehow was not in the Lord of the Rings trilogy is bound to be found either in the Harry Potter series or last yearís Chronicles of Narnia. The film is an obvious bandwagon choice by the filmmakers and although that does not necessarily disqualify it from potential success, it does mar it a bit in my eyes. Furthermore, I never fancied myself a Rings fan, primarily since I found the action and special effects suffocating. The series contained such an imposing mix of overabundant noise and explosions that it detracted from the taleís central inspiring message. In my opinion, Eragon feels boggled down by its predecessors.

Similar Titles: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Willow
December 15th, 2006 (wide)
March 20th, 2007 (DVD)

20th Century Fox

Stefen Fangmeier

Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Edward Speleers, Sienna Guillory, Djimon Hounsou, Robert Carlyle, Joss Stone

Total: 896 vote(s).

Fantasy, Kids & Family, Science Fiction

Click here to view site

Rated PG for fantasy violence, intense battle sequences and some frightening images

104 min





Eragon at RottenTomatoes.com

Eragon at AskMen.com

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