Eragon (2006)

Genres - Fantasy  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Adventure  |   Release Date - Dec 15, 2006 (USA)  |   Run Time - 104 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , Hungary , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Starting with December 2001, viewers were treated to lush, big-budget fantasy movies in four out of five holiday seasons, as The Chronicles of Narnia followed the Lord of the Rings trilogy. So in 2006, along came Eragon, a calculated attempt to fill the void and wrangle in the same audience. It was a sorry disappointment. Earning barely 70 million dollars at the domestic box office, Eragon proved that devoted followings are not won simply by serving up heroic young warriors and ogre-like villains. Without offering a beloved mythology for viewers to embrace, the film is bland and kiddie-oriented, suited only for the most forgiving geeks. Eragon is derivative in ways beyond its title -- which is a homophone of Viggo Mortensen's Rings character, Aragorn -- but at least it had a chance at freshness by focusing on dragons. The fire-breathing creatures appeared in the 2002 actioner Reign of Fire, but hadn't headlined a fantasy epic since Dragonheart (1996). While their character design is competent enough, it's not what you'd expect from a film helmed by a special-effects guru (Stefen Fangmeier), who clearly didn't have the CG budget enjoyed by Peter Jackson. But the main problem with Saphira, the central dragon, is that she's been given a decidedly earthbound voice, that of Rachel Weisz. Regardless of how benevolent she's supposed to be, she needs an impressive growl to maintain her grandeur -- if she needs a voice at all. The general drabness of the sets and landscape extends to the actors. Ed Speleers is a really poor man's Orlando Bloom, gawky and uncharismatic. And the supposed prestige casting of Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich just makes them look like lazy opportunists, hoping that if the film became a phenomenon, they'd get swept along. Instead, Eragon just got swept under the rug.