Movie Review: Eragon

The opening date for this movie was on my daughter’s calendar.  Like months in advance!  She and I had read this and its sequel, Eldest, and really enjoyed the books.  She then went immediately online and tried to find out all she could about the third book, the movie, etc etc.  This was probably the most excited she has gotten about a favorite book made into a movie since she put a “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” film release countdown clock and background on our computer desktop.  Tickets to see “Eragon” were on her Christmas list.  She talked about it constantly.  She winced every time she heard that another one of her friends had seen it.  She went into near cardiac arrest every time the commercial came on television.  So *finally* I took her to see it on New Year’s Day.

Ok, here’s the good:  the British boy who plays Eragon is cute.  He makes the movie almost bearable to watch.  And the visual conception of Saphira is – if inaccurate from the description in the book – pretty.  Um…yeah…that’s it.  The lists of “pro”s pretty much stops there.

Now if you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, please be warned, I’m about to type a bunch of spoilers.  ‘Cause I’m gonna vent, and I can’t promise to be responsible for myself from here on out.  So…we’re approaching critical mass…leave now if you don’t want to know anything…..

Alright, you’ve been warned.

The movie was crap.  A sloppy, aimless job at pounding out a holiday movie, that’s all.  And before you recite the list of disclaimers anyone must know when watching a film adaptation of a book (“you can never catch the magic of the written word,” “everyone has their own interpretation of things,” “of course they have to edit things out,” etc etc)…I KNOW THESE THINGS!  I’m not dumb.  Yes, I get that things will be different.  I get that any filmmaker faces challenges when putting a novel on the screen.  But truly, even without that element, Eragon is a crappy movie.

The film does a totally insufficient job of telling Eragon’s story.  The writing doesn’t provide enough opportunity for us to see his deep connections to his cousin and uncle (and bitter anguish at losing his uncle and farmland – that scene is over so quickly!), the life and lifestyle in the village where he lives, or the relationship that slowly evolves between he and his dragon (which happens in about 7 minutes in the movie!).  All these things put him in position to embrace the idea of being a dragonrider, and fuel his desire to get back at the person who ordered his uncle’s death.  But instead, we get scene after scene after scene, cut in two minute increments, telling us what we’re supposed to know and believe about this boy, but none of it is worth squat.  You get led to this point where all these bad guys can’t manage to just catch this kid, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Ok, now WHY am I supposed to believe he’s able to evade all of these guys?”  It just doesn’t make sense.  And if I had to listen to John Malcovich (what a waste in this movie!!) say “Bring me the boy – and do not fail me!” ONE more time, I thought I was going to scream.

The film also does a poor job trying to establish the relationship between Eragon and Brom.  Jeremy Irons was fair casting for the role; I suppose I can live with that.  But you know that spark between Gandolf and Frodo that you can just see oozing off the screen in their movie?  Completely and LAMELY missed in creating that same kind of relationship between Brom and Eragon.  They are supposed to be mentor and student, and yet when Brom dies, you wonder at Eragon’s emotions.  After all, their scenes together were again VERY choppy, there’s no chemistry there.  It’s boom, boom, boom, now he’s dead.  And I’m thinking to myself “Wha….?”

Ok.  I usually get to this part of my “review” (and I’ve given it to anyone who will listen) and begin blithering like an idiot, so I’m not sure how to type it coherantly.  Can we just say AAAACCCCKKKK on the casting and writing for Arya???  I don’t use this word often, and I don’t use it lightly:  that whole thing sucked.  First, let’s make her look NOTHING like she’s supposed to.  Then let’s change her story around completely, mainly with how she and Eragon are connected through his dreams, how she’s unconcious through most of the book, how she’s completely aloof and mysterious and keeps her distance from Eragon, how he DOESN’T know she’s the Princess.  Let’s just flush that down the toilet and start from scratch, ok?  But…you know…let’s keep her name, so they dont’ get confused.  Whatever.  That was just so much garbage that I didn’t know how to handle it.

And I laughed inappropriately when they brought Joss Stone on screen as Angela.  HA HA HA HA…oh, you mean you’re serious?  What the….?  First of all, you put Angela in a teensy tiny scene (my daughter wanted to know “Where’s the cat???”), and then you give the 2.5 minutes to JOSS STONE?  She did a horrible job!  She’s a great singer, terrible actress, even in a role that cut down to what it was should have just been thrown out altogether.

Speaking of throwing out…they did a lot of that.  Characters, storylines, plot points.  Gone, gone, gone.  My daughter said – OUT LOUD (I was so proud!) – in the middle of the movie, “Mom!  I don’t think the people who made this movie even READ the book!!”  She was seething by that point.  And I couldn’t blame her.

I kept wondering to myself if they were going to attempt a film of Eldest.  I mean, how could they?  What would the story be about?  It would have to be even more different from the book than this one was, since they took out so MANY of the important stories in the second book.  I was horrified, disgusted, disappointed at what they did to the end.  The whole scene when they finally get to the Varden is ridiculous.  I’m not sure why we’re supposed to care who they are and what they’re doing there.  I’m also not sure anyone felt any tension over the battle scenes.  It was like:  here we are, let’s go!  But the REAL ending I’m talking about is that Eragon ended this movie without a scratch.  Those cowards.  If you’ve read the book, you know that Eragon ends this debut novel horribly disfigured and fighting for his own sanity.  He is split in two and spends nearly most of Eldest fighting to ever think of himself as “whole” again.  But the pretty English boy makes it out ok in the movie.  And there you have it, a happy ending for the Holiday Movie Season.  I say BAH HUMBUG!!!

ps…now that I’m done writing this, I have already thought of a half-dozen other things that drove me nuts about this movie.  i’m going to go tend my zen garden now and try to find some inner peace!