Eragon (2006)

Reviewer: Carissa Horton

 

Life is fragile. Held by a thread. One snap obliterates it. But sometimes destiny overcomes the greatest odds.

 

A young farm boy named Eragon (Edward Speleers) is given the greatest of gifts and the greatest of curses. While hunting at night through the forests of his village, a miracle lands at his feet in the form of a brilliant blue stone. Bringing it home, he lays it safely in the house, out of the way of all intruders, little knowing why he must keep it. Life goes on, tussling with his cousin Roran (Christopher Egan), obeying his Uncle Garrow (Alun Armstrong), and listening to the tales told of their evil king, Galbatorix (John Malkovich). He orders the enrollment of all young men into his armies once they reach a certain age, destined for battle. And Roran has arrived at that age. Close as a brother to his cousin, Eragons heart bleeds when Roran leaves before the soldiers enlist him.

 

Perhaps sensing Eragons loneliness and sorrow, the stone decides its time has come. For it is no stone, but an egg and from it emerges the tiny form of a baby dragon. Their eyes meet and Eragon acknowledges she, Saphira ( Rachel Weisz, voice), is his destiny. So does another in the village. Brom (Jeremy Irons), a storyteller, bitter against the tyrannies of their ruler, tells tales of the dragon riders who stood for truth and justice before one of their own, Galbatorix, turned to evil and destroyed his comrades. On the other end of the spectrum lies the story of Saphiras arrival at Eragons feet. Hunted for the egg stolen from Galbatorix himself, an elf named Arya (Sienna Guillory) defends it with her life. Durza (Robert Carlyle), a creature known as a "Shade," a type of evil sorcerer under Galbatorexs employ, has tracked her down. In a desperate attempt at protection, Arya breathes a spell and the egg vanishes in a flash of light. Durza will not be defeated lightly and so he takes Arya prisoner, counting on her connection with the egg to lead him to its position.

 

Through Arya, he learns of Eragons existence. Danger stalks the steps of Eragon and his companions. A dragon rider must not be allowed to live for it will bring balance and a chance for evil to finally be destroyed. Their fate rests on the slender shoulders of a seventeen-year-old farm boy.

 

The cinematography is impressive. Contrary to popular belief, nothing in Eragon reminds me of The Lord of the Rings. That makes it no less magnificent to watch. Whether beautiful dragons are in flight or hideous creatures prepare for battle, the CGI is excellent. Some of the dialogue does border on severe corniness unfortunately. But with the splendid premise, writing flaws are easily overlooked. Dont let rumors about the so-called poor design prevent you from attending Eragon. Ive learned not to listen to most rumors and been proven right on many occasions. Ive seen better and worse acting. Jeremy Irons reigns impressive. I cant imagine him ever performing a role poorly. Since this is Ed Speleers first movie, I examined him with a little more scrutiny. He performed magnificently, much better than I ever imagined possible for one with so little screen experience. He delves into the role enthusiastically and draws your sympathies and compassion into the life of Eragon. Another good actor is Garrett Hedlund, in his portrayal of Murtagh, a wanderer with a hidden past who aids Eragon. Robert Carlyle embodies Durza with enough energy to make him terrifying to the viewer. An excellent villain, who, Im thankful to say is not "more cool" than the hero, as is often the case.

 

Unfortunately, not everyone performed to their full potential. Sienna Guillorys lackluster Arya finds it difficult to impress even the most easygoing audience. Readers claim that she is a cool and empirical creature in the novel and not given to fanciful displays of emotion. Sienna indulges in the exchange of meaningful glances with Eragon, squeals of exertion while battling, and an overall bland characterization. John Malkovich struggles with much the same problem. Another character lacking depth. A villain, while terrifying, is also meant to impress. Without an impressive villain or vice versa, the movie falters. As mentioned earlier, certain characters are given the gift of magic. The magic can be used either for good or evil, depending upon the character. Mostly, it is a means of defense, but could also be used as an attack. Eragon and Saphira meld their eyesight together; giving him the ability to see through her eyes. Combine these issues with the fortune-telling and yes, you have a magical cauldron.

   

The Bible tells us to weigh things carefully so I urge parents to use caution, knowing their children's weakness better than I. What you have is a movie with potential good and bad influences. In my personal opinion the good outweigh the bad. Not everyone will agree. People who have never read the book will undoubtedly love the movie, and fans of the novel will probably hate it. The original tale is altered. I could care less, having never read the book. But others will notice. Decent dragon movies are difficult to come by. The last one of any worth is Dragon Heart starring Sean Connery and Dennis Quaid. That's a long time between films. Is it worth it? I say a definite YES!

 

  

Sexual Content:

Eragon develops an infatuation on Arya, but never acts on it. When she is wounded later in the film, Eragon pulls the front of her shirt down to see if he can help. Healing is another of his many gifts. Nothing inappropriate is viewed.

     

Language:

None.

  

Violence:

Durzas appearance and use of black magic bears careful scrutiny. He is a powerful sorcerer and so his appearance reflects his position with long reddish hair, animalistic gaze, and long black fingernails. The fingernails are the executers of his magic and his wrath. In one scene, he holds a finger to the head of an Urgal who displeased him; ultimately killing the unwary follower. Whether his nail grew or he simply poisoned the Urgal is not made clear, but a black liquid drips from Durzas finger once the creature is dead.

 

Battle sequences are strictly PG rated; no heads chopped off or blood splattering the screen. Bows and arrows are used against enemies, along with swords. Certain characters possess magical abilities to aid them during a fight. Durza creates disgusting creatures called Ra-Zac to accomplish his bidding, and they do so with a delirious loathing for anything other than their master. In his first attempt to ride Saphira, Eragon fails miserably and nearly plummets to his death several times. A dragons head is ruthlessly clamped between the teeth of a creature created from black magic. Mild blood is spilled.

 

 

Other:

Angela, a fortune-teller or sooth-sayer, gives Eragon a glimpse of his future. Her eyes turn milky as she speaks and she "reads" from the knuckle-bones of a dragon. Any type of sorcery is bad. Thankfully, Angela only inhabits one scene and is never mentioned again.