Reviewing the Reviews: 'Eragon'

94257__eragon_lThe critics say they’ve seen Eragon (pictured, with Edward Speleers and Jeremy Irons) before. And after reading their headlines, we feel their pain. According to The Charlotte Observer, "Eragon just keeps dragon itself forward." The St. Paul Pioneer Press maintains, "There’s not much of Eragon that isn’t dragon." And Seattle’s Stranger asserts, "Here There Be Draggin’."

After their opening pun war, the critics wage an epic battle to see out who can compare the derivative fantasy flick to the most movies. The Stranger‘s Andrew Wright fires first: "Debuting director/effects vet Stefen Fangmeier manages to pull off a few decent visual coups, particularly with a nicely animated blue-eyed dragon, but without the rich conceptual texture of the LOTR series (or, hell, even the goofy exuberance of The Beastmaster) to draw on, what remains is a load of generic mush perhaps best served as a piece of bitchin’ ’70s van art."

addCredit(“Eragon: James Dittiger”)

But Willie Waffle of Wafflemovies.com, is waiting: "I liked Eragon‘s story so much more when it was called Star Wars.  It’s not a horrible movie (at least, not horrible in the Deck The Hallssense), but while watching it, you hear echoes of George Lucas, DarthVader and Obi-Wan Kenobi throughout the film instead of focusing on thestory. Heck, I was waiting for a Wookiee to pop up."

Nice try, boys, but the never-afraid-to-reach Eleanor Ringel Gillespie of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will not be defeated: "Along with LOTR and Harry Potter, there are chunks of Star Wars and Anne McCaffrey’s dragon books and even a little face-painting from Braveheart."

We’d also like to give a special shout-out to the Best Damning-With-Faint-Praise Reviewer of the Week, the Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips. "Based on the first book in Christopher Paolini’s fantasy trilogy about a boy and his dragon, Eragonis a bit cheesy, but I rather liked it. It’s sincere cheese," hewrites. "The dragon, Saphira, comes with goo-goo eyes that go beyondimposing and end up looking adorably ridiculous. They’re matched by thedragon voice, all good sense and maternal fire, provided by RachelWeisz. The special effects — which include glowing-eyed heroes andvillains, and flights over the mythical land of Alagaesia depicted in ‘dragon vision’ — are refreshing in their slightly out-of-date air."Well done, sir.

Comments (11 total) Add your comment
  • Dave

    That last review should be used to teach all film critics in the art of the backhanded compliment. I counted four in the one paragraph reproduced here. Well done indeed.

  • randys

    I’m sure it doesn’t matter what the critics have to say,
    it will probably go on to make a gazillion dollars and
    Christopher Paolini will be laughing his ass off all the
    way to the bank.

  • Erin

    The reviews of this movie often times fail to point the finger back to Paolini for being a complete HACK! There is not a single original thought in Eragon. Everyone wants to praise him for writing a book so young, but its easy to copy and he doesn’t deserve props for that!

  • Lynessa

    I find that critics are judging too harshly, being that 500pg book has been squeezed into a 99minute movie. And it you are going to compare it to other fantasy flicks…well couldn’t we all say that Harry Potter resembles Luke Skywalker…Voldemort-Darth Vader…etc. Honestly, it is rather impossible for fantasy writers to write with complete originality, when all the good stuff is already out there!

  • Jael

    Lynessa, did you read the book? It didn’t need to be that long and clearly rips off other stories. I’m incensed that it was published at all. Just because it’s a good effort from a kid doesn’t mean it shold be published.

  • Kay

    I really enjoyed the books… and I have yet to see the movie, so I’m not sure how if the story will hold up. But everyone keeps condemning the books/movie as stealing ideas. You know, the whole orphan boy rising against the evil empire kind of dates back to Moses. So I think Harry Potter and Stars War could potentially be considered just as derivative.

  • damian

    OK So I’m a fantasy story lover and loved the books Can’t wait for the third in the series. But if you loved the book please save yourself from torture and don’t watch this film. I can only echo the thoughts above. Words like butchered and destroyed if anything understate what has been done to the story The screen writers missed everything that made the story great. The story presented is absolutely ridiculous. The scripting is atrocious and pathetic. There is nothing of merit for any fantasy fan in this film. Roll on book number three but they can now forget about making any further films in this series. As a result of a bad screenplay and direction this is a story that will never be appreciated on the big screen unless in 20 years there is a remake done and they can start afresh. The most damning condemnation I can give is that I felt compelled to write this review while the film is still on. Do not underestimate how bad this is. As i said save yourself the torture and read the book.

  • David

    Those who insist on debasing the books as derivative, stealing, copying or the like should consider the fact that, as others have made plain already, good, original fantasy fodder is extraordinarily difficult to conceive, without the heavy influences of the great fantasy/science-fiction writers already published.
    That said, this movie did neither the books, nor the story itself any favors. In fact, the movie rather departs entirely from the books. In other words, based on the events in the first movie, the second movie could not be made. That, to me, is the greater crime. The screen-writers have hamstrung the plot, even if another film were to follow.
    Ignoring the spirit of an author’s work is far worse a crime than telling a comparable story a different way in a different setting with an entirely different set of paradigms within its own universe.
    One thing is sure, this movie departs from the source plot to an extent no other film adaptation has. What a shame.

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  • DAK

    After reading the book, and waiting for the movie, I was rather disapointed. Quite so, in fact, that I have completely changed my mind about the book. The clear evidence of LOTR similarity, coupled with Harry Potter and Dragonrders of Pern, mad e not only the movie, but the imagery as well, pretty much suck.
    I like the last guy’s comment

  • JT

    “Those who insist on debasing the books as derivative, stealing, copying or the like should consider the fact that, as others have made plain already, good, original fantasy fodder is extraordinarily difficult to conceive, without the heavy influences of the great fantasy/science-fiction writers already published.”
    So, basically the lesson here, kids, is that you shouldn’t strive for originality or creativity in anything you do. Just rip off someone else’s work, because making up your own stuff (especially fantasy prose) is just too bloody hard and obviously not worth your best efforts.

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