Showing posts with label Eragon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eragon. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Mike Resnick's Pulp Parody in Print

I often have conversations with my friends regarding how Hollywood used to make really bad fantasy adventure films. Recently, I had such a conversation when a group of my friends were complaining about how much they hated Eragon.

"Sure," I said, "Eragon has nothing original for me to praise."
"It's nothing but an awful Star Wars rip-off," protested a good friend.
"Actually, it's closer to a combination of King Arthur and the Dragonheart, but your point is well taken."
"It's Star Wars!"
"Look, even Star Wars was referencing older stories. There's a whole book called Hero of a Thousand Faces which has an introduction describing how Star Wars meets all the classic archetypes of saga narratives."
"That's different!"
"Then there's the scenes Star Wars lifted whole cloth from Flash Gordon..."
"That's different!"

It was at this point that I had to talk about just how spoiled we have become as Fantasy/Science Fiction movie fans. I had to remind my friend that Beastmaster was once at the pinnacle of quality for Fantasy film productions. Excalibur was of a quality that could only be prayed for, as opposed to a film like Hawk the Slayer which was standard fare. Back in the day, as they say, we used to have some real crap passed off on us Fantasy/Science Fiction fans. The majority of the films, excepting films like Excalibur, I watched as a child make Eragon look like a masterpiece. Which brings me to Mike Resnick's hilarious character Lucifer Jones.

You see, Mike Resnick was inspired to write a parody of classic adventure tales when he watched the movie She. The film was so monumentally bad, it was funny. Which made him wonder how funny an adventure tale could be if the parody was intentional. Naturally, being parody, the adventure tale would also have to be good on its own merits. Otherwise he would just be doing incompetent storytelling which is unintentionally funny, like the movie She (it should be mentioned that the book She isn't pitifully funny, rather is an interesting classic adventure tale). So Mike Resnick created the character Lucifer Jones, you can read more about the origins of this unique character at the Subterranean Press website. Where you can also read new adventures featuring this wonderful con man character, like "The Lost Continent of Moo."

Quick sidenote, Lucifer Jones is even funnier if you have read the Silver John/John/John the Balladeer stories by Manly Wade Wellman. Lucifer Jones is a "con man missionary" version of John's saintly innocent wandering musician.

All of which, once again, reinforces how something can be referencing -- heck, it can even be ripping off liberally -- another narrative and still be entertaining. In fact, I think I will go reread some Raymond Feist just to stick it to my Tolkien purist friends.

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.