Rating: 2 of 5
Thanks to LOTR and Harry Potter, every December I need a good fantasy film. This year, Eragon was all I got which made for something of a sad year. Though, I keep seeing previews for Eragon and keep remembering it as good light fantasy fun.
I wonder if it would be less ‘light’ if I’d read the book, or if the book is a bit light itself (which I suspect and is therefore why I haven’t read the book). The story works well because it achieves what Tolkien called an ‘inner consistency of reality’. But it’s a little bit hollow; it’s there, but it’s not deep or quite solid. Again, part of that could be from not having read the books. But the film seemed to be trying to accomplish so much: inform the viewer, flesh out this world, tell us the rules and some of the backstory. But it didn’t take the time to sit in those things – to let them exist and settle and become solid. It’s the stillness of moments that allow the characters and world to deepen which gives a film strength.
Which is not a commentary on the pacing of the film at all. It was a bit choppy in some places with short scenes and occasionally abrupt cuts between scenes, but overall the pacing was good. Never really slow, not rushed, not as forced as the first three Harry Potters.
I don’t think Ed Speleers would have made a good Peter in Narnia (he auditioned for the role, which is why I bring it up). The 4 kids they cast really achieved a sibling quality and had an unexplainable sameness. Ed would have been out of place. But he makes a fantastic Eragon. His character development was subtle, but was still there. And it was incredibly important that we see his character grow and change because he’s our anchor through this and if he doesn’t change it doesn’t matter and we don’t care.
I liked Christopher Paolini’s take on magic. This sounds weird to say, but I’ve thought that magic could work something like that in a fantasy world once or twice.
The CG was brilliant. Saphira was so realistic and her as a hatchling was unbelievably cute. I think it worked that she was almost more furry than scaly sometimes; that she was endearing so we related to her as a character and not a beast – the way dragons are typically portrayed.
And I really liked Arya’s fighting style. There was some grace, agility and speed to it that all looked pretty good. The shots were a bit too brief to really get a grasp on it, though. I’d like to have seen more of Arya fighting.
Of course this will be a franchise and I figure we’ll see Eldest in theaters sometime in 2008. I’m not planning on reading the books yet, I’ll just wait. But I still want to understand why Arya and Eragon are connected; why does he see her in his dreams and how can she give him a vision by touching him? Where/who is Eragon’s mother and why did she leave him? When is his cousin going to show up again? Because I’m pretty sure he will and that will be fun.
As much as I enjoyed it, I wasn’t emotionally attached to any of it; another reason it can be categorized as light fare. For me, the most emotional moment is when Saphira is roaring for Brom as he dies. In that moment there’s a bit of nobility and history that resonates well. But that’s a pretty weak emotional center since it’s all about a CG character.
It’s rather undefinable exactly what connects an audience to a film at an emotional level. It has to stir our hearts and not just our adrenaline or our minds. Often times this comes from the actors achieving a depth of character and emotion that draws us in and is the connecting point for us. These actors seem to not have had the time (either in filming or as it was edited) to achieve that depth. Perhaps it’s the inexperience of the majority of the actors that were cast. Jeremy Irons has a good character, but he’s not our touchstone enough to be our emotional connection to the film. John Malkovich and Djimon Hounsou aren’t in it enough to have time for us to see much of any character at all. But I think this also might go back to not having read the books. If someone watched the first Harry Potter movie without ever having read the book would they think the characters were not quite as fleshed out and lacked a bit of depth also?
I don’t know – I read Harry Potter before I saw it.
I enjoyed it but never connected to it. Which is why it’s a decent movie but not great.