Okay, I was warned. I saw the reviews, and knew that the film had received only 16% on rottentomatoes.com. I trust the tomato for my viewing decisions, but every now and again, I'm at odds with what I learn there. For example, Resident Evil only got 33%, but I thought the film was a decent piece of zombie-genre cinema, and is one of the better film adaptations of a video game. I also disagreed with the 27% evaluation of Silent Hill, a moody atmospheric piece that lacked only a strong ending. Besides, I'd read the book and felt the storyline was strong enough to pull through wooden performances or second-rate special effects. I knew the plot and discounted all the "It's just like Star Wars" talk because Star Wars had borrowed from other heroic epics, so I chalked that all up to people thinking George Lucas invented the heroic journey. So while I'd been told Eragon was pure cinematic shit, when the opportunity arose to view it on a pay-per-view in our hotel tonight, I took a chance, along with my wife and my sister (my niece fell asleep part of the way through -- never a good sign for an epic adventure movie).
I should have gone to bed early. I should have listened to my niece who advised us watching "Music and Lyrics" (64% on the Tomameter). I should have read more of Robert Jordan's seventh book in the Wheel of Time series. I should have watched paint dry.
I can honestly say there isn't anything worth seeing in Eragon. In fact, I've got a whole list of reasons why you shouldn't bother renting this useless pile of garbage.
1. It's a disgrace to the book it's based on. Christopher Paolini is no Tolkien, but he kicks Terry Goodkind's ass any day of the week. It's not literature, but it's certainly well paced, with likeable characters and enough tension to keep you turning the pages to see how it all comes out. The film is poorly paced, jumping about in a muddled, disjointed mess of scenes which left me slightly confused...and I've read the book! As far as wanting to see how it all ends, when Eragon as played by Edward Speleers shouts "Let's end this!" to the villainous Durza, I wholeheartedly agreed. Right then would have been great. The movie adds things that weren't necessary, and skips ones that were. I can't recall if the dialogue even vaguely resembles the lines from the book, but if they did, then they are akin to George Lucas' writing...and as Harrison Ford allegedly told Lucas, "You can write this shit, but you can't say it." I certainly don't remember the book having as many cliche lines as the film did.
2. Worst fantasy film soundtrack ever. And considering I've seen Ladyhawke, that's saying something. It sounds like it might have been stolen from a Deathstalker movie, or a film made in the 1940's. Great soundtracks can make terrible films into decent ones. Resident Evil is proof that the soundtrack sets the tone of a film as much as anything else, and can make up for many shortcomings. All Eragon's soundtrack did was underscore how bad the film was.
3. A cute lead is no replacement for good acting. Edward Speleers might be a heart-throb in the making, but a few more moments of strong narrative would have been preferred to seeing him mug for the camera with that supposedly charming smile of his. He's a crap actor, plain and simple. And while Jeremy Irons is a good actor, I'm beginning to suspect that he plays Dungeons and Dragons in his off hours, seeing as he keeps turning up in terrible fantasy films. The number of really good actors in this film only further the failure of the picture. If you're working with gold and you make a pile of shit, you weren't just failing...you were trying to fail.
I could go on. I could talk about how the Urgals, rejects from the set of Quest for Fire, are about as threatening as...well, the cast from Quest for Fire, or how I have no idea why the filmmakers thought it necessary to visually present Galbatorix (played by John Malkovich, whose agent must be the same dipshit who convinced Sean Connery to turn down the role of the Architect in The Matrix Reloaded and that LXG was a better career move) when he doesn't appear in the first book. But trust me on this. Don't waste your time here. If you desire Dragons, let me recommend Reign of Fire, which is certainly more fun, or the classic Dragonslayer...
In lieu of watching a film about dragons, just buy Paolini's book and enjoy a good read. I'm going to give it a second read, and try to forget there was ever a movie made about Eragon.