The fantastical milieu of Eragon may be third-class Lord of the Rings, but its story—in what may constitute the most shameless act of plagiarism known to American cinema—is pure Star Wars. As the source material is a (critically eviscerated) novel written by Christopher Paolini at the age of 15, it’s somewhat understandable that the film’s primary points of reference are the aforementioned iconic series (as well as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter saga). Nonetheless, the brazenness with which this tale of dragons, wizards, and other assorted Middle-earth-ian creatures mimics George Lucas’s narratives is nothing shy of laugh-out-loud astonishing. In the land of Alagaësia, farm boy Eragon (Edward Speleers)—living with his soon-to-be-murdered uncle Owen, err, I mean Garrow—stumbles upon a dragon egg that’s been spirited away from the evil King Galbatorix (John Malkovich) by a princess (Sienna Guillory) being held captive by the villain. With the help of an Obi Wan mentor named Brom (Jeremy Irons) and his new flying reptile soul mate Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz), Eragon fulfills his destiny by becoming a dragon rider—a race of warriors wiped out by Galbatorix’s Vader/Voldemort-like betrayal—teaming up with a rebel alliance, and triumphing in a climactic aerial dogfight. A former visual effects technician making his directorial debut, Stefen Fangmeier proves reasonably adept at CG spectacles, but the clunky human drama and uninspired settings give the film a chintziness that’s amplified by bombastic performances from Malkovich, Irons, and Djimon Hounsou (as the rebels’ leader). The fact that Eragon and Saphira communicate telepathically prevents silly talking-dragon facial expressions (even as it highlights Speleers’s vacuity), and Fangmeier at least has the good sense to keep his numbskull narrative moving swiftly enough to negate sustained concentration on any singular deficiency. Yet between its introduction of a roguish Han Solo type and its foreshadowing of impending revelations about Eragon’s family (my advice for the kid: keep your tongue out of the princess’s mouth), Eragon only holds surprises for those completely unacquainted with Lucas’s original sci-fi trilogy—and, consequently, seems to portend a sequel in which the hero, after spending some time in an icy region, is taught the ways of “magic” by a diminutive green guru who funny this way speaks.
- Stefen Fangmeier
- Peter Buchman, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Jesse Wigutow
- Edward Speleers, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, Djimon Hounsou, Rachel Weisz
- Slant is reaching more readers than ever before, but advertising revenue across the Internet is falling fast, hitting independently owned and operated publications like ours the hardest. We’ve watched many of our fellow media sites fall by the way side in recent years, but we’re determined to stick around.
We’ve never asked our readers for financial support before, and we’re committed to keeping our content free and accessible—meaning no paywalls or subscription fees. If you like what we do, however, please consider becoming a Slant patron.
You can also make a one-time donation via PayPal: