Thursday, December 28, 2006

Eragon: A Concurring Opinion

I agree with much of what Rob has to say about the recent film Eragon, in particular with regards to the dragon character design and effects. Those were the only part of the film that could be considered good. As for my opinion of the film overall, Eragon wasn't quite as bad as The Sword and the Sorcerer, but worse than the first Dungeons and Dragons movie. Maybe the Gymkata comparison is a perfect one, as I am willing to rewatch Gymkata if only to mock its feeble attempt to emulate a martial arts film.

The novel Eragon was a clunky, but fun, piece of juvenalia that anyone older than 5 would recognize the tropes and lack of surprises. As for the movies, some jave gone as far as to say the movie is Star Wars remade, but that is only true in so far as Star Wars is an unabashed replication of the Hero of a Thousand Faces thesis.

Star Wars translates the Space Opera and Planetary Romance through the lens of Joseph Campbell while Eragon translates Star Wars through the lens of Tolkien and Romantic Fantasy.

My complaints about Eragon have nothing to do with whether the film was original in its ideas.

Eragon wasn't original, but neither was Star Wars. The first Lucas film, A New Hope, is riddled with images and narrative arcs liberally lifted from other material. In fact, there are those who say that Star Wars is merely Lord of the Rings. I am not one of those, I know that Star Wars is Flash Gordon meets Buck Rogers. Lucas even borrowed the "energy bridge swashbuckler swinging" scene from Flash Gordon. Regardless of its influences, Star Wars is a great movie. It is inspired by the serials and by planetary romances (don't forget that planetary romance giant Leigh Brackett wrote a draft of Empire Strikes Back -- she also wrote Rio Bravo one of my favorite Westerns)

Eragon, on the other hand, is uninspired. It borrows plot points, but lacks heart.

What does it have? Well...let's see.

  • Young boy with unknown parents, raised by an uncle, destined for greatness ala King Arthur and Luke Skywalker? Check.

  • Evil lord ruling the land ala Tolkien? Check.

  • Order of mystical knights betrayed by one of their own like the Samurai, Jedi, and Knights of the Round Table? Check.

  • A potent magic item of objectionable past ala Lord of the Rings and The Elric Saga, Hawk the Slayer, Sword and the Sorcerer, and Krull? Check.

  • Elves and Dwarves? Heard of but not seen...Check

  • Helms Deep? Check

  • Powerful unnatural hunters pursuing our hero ala Lord of the Rings, The Shannara Series, and most Greek hero narratives? Check.

  • Mysterious old master training our young pup ala Merlin, Obi Wan, and Cheiron? Check

Wow! This movie has everything but a flying frisbee weapon called the Glaive and yet it still lacks heart. The movie was just going through the motions.

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