Since the combined and almost simultaneous successes of Peter Jackson's "Lord ofthe Rings" trilogy and the Harry Potter books and movies, it seems that every doofus who could put pen to paper and come up with some kind of child fated to save the world or ride a dragon story has done just that. The fantasy genre is now so populated with second-rate plots that it's hard to discern whether the rumblings in the theater are from the THX or from J.R.R. Tolkien rolling over in his grave.
"Eragon" is about a young farm boy named Eragon (Edward Speleers) who finds a smoking blue rock in the middle of the forest that turns out to be a dragon's egg. It hatches, and Eragon learns that he's supposed to be the newest long-forgotten dragon rider, here to save the kingdom from the evil rule of King Galbatorix (John Malkovich). Galbatorix tells his evil wizard Durza (Robert Carlyle) "I suffer without my stone" and orders him to find Eragon and kill him.
"Eragon" is so bad, it celebrates the laughable clichés of the films it's ripping off. For instance, when Eragon finds his uncle dead at the hands of the evil orc-like legion sent by Durza, pangs of Luke Skywalker's pitiful scream seem to ripple through the theater. Fortunately for Eragon, he's already met his Obi Wan Kenobi in the form of Brom (Jeremy Irons), who was a former Jedi, er, dragon rider back in the day. He's there to teach Eragon all the important lessons of dragon riding before he's ultimately sacrificed.
What's fortunate for Eragon and unfortunate for the powerful Durza is that Durza hasn't learned the lesson of other evildoers in that he seems insistent on sending every incompetent he can find to go kill Eragon instead of doing it himself. Naturally, they all miss and eventually Durza challenges Eragon precisely at a time when Eragon has become proficient enough at riding his dragon to defeat Durza. Clearly, Durza is a moron. When Eragon needs to infiltrate Durza's stronghold, he just flips on a hoodie and walks right in. How come Durza can summon an army from the depths of hell but he can't hire better security? And what's the relationship between evil and bad teeth? I don't get it.
And speaking of the dragon, the filmmakers could not have had made a bigger mistake by having the dragon talk. Human/animal relationships are made stronger by looks and unspoken feelings. The double-whammy of the dragon special effect and the voice of Rachel Weisz articulating the beasts every thought becomes the film's fingernails down the chalkboard.
So take your pick: "Star Wars", "Lord of the Rings", "Pirates of the Carribean" – the copycat list is long and "Eragon" feels like something regurgitated by a computer.
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