Recently I saw Eragon. As a lover of fantasy, this was a treat. I have some good and bad things to say about the movie, but for a variety of reasons I will call this movie good.
In recent years any major movie that was fantasy or sci-fi based tended to have a dodgy unoriginal story, weak characters and there has been a recent move towards good special effects.
Serenity would be an exception to this. Lord of the rings was a good well rounded series of movies, if a tad long.
This movie does have well produced special effects, pretty dragons and magic. The story is based on a novel, the basic story seems fairly standard fantasy fair, I have not read the books the movie is based on although I have some vague intentions of doing so.
The cast was fairly good, although some melodramatic overacting on the part of, well a lot of people, but mostly people in the bad guys camp, John Malkovitch I’m looking at you.
But basically you have a farm boy, and dragon, magic and awesome fights, happen to him. He plays his part of too naïve and stupid to survive well, and the sheer luck and ‘things’ that make him special suffice to keep him alive in these situations, pretty standard high fantasy fair. He manages to play this well.
A commendation deserves to go to Jeremy Irons for his acting and character in this movie. Playing the grizzled old guy who has been there and done that, takes the role of helping out the young whippersnapper and trying to make sure he doesn’t die horribly too quickly. His character has the most depth of any in the movie and probably is by far the most interesting and engaging.
This movie struggles from two main aspects, the first is detail, the second is storytelling.
The movie seemed very standard fantasy fair, nothing terribly new or exciting in any of the concepts presented, giving the books the benefit of the doubt and knowing that they are quite long books (also standard fantasy tradition) I’m quite sure a lot of detail has been left out of the movie. This resulted in just about every character being fairly 1 dimensional. The boy with potential, The girl who is a princess, the evil sorcerer, the evil tyrant, I think you get the idea. This included the story. My belief is they could have shown us less story, but told the part of the story they chose more completely.
The movie started off with a juxtaposition, they overviewed a series of events, bloody wars, killing and oppression (by the evil king). We were then quickly introduced to The Village, where The Boy With Promise resides, while The Princess is pursued in some other place by the Evil Sorcerer. So we have a world in turmoil, the village they then introduced us to was idyllic, a lovely place to be, so the tone of the scenes and music lead us to believe, later it became a darker village, with more nasty overtones.
This was contrast at the same time by a violent battle, these scenes were mixed together, for story line reasons, but together they make the combination of events seem to clash with their underlying tones. I think the reason for this was they didn’t know if they were making some kind of fairy tale for young people or a grittier story set in a fantasy land. This dichotomy of purpose resulted in a few other scenes that seem to jar with the feelings the music and imagery presented when contrasted the context and content of the scene, such as mid way through the movie, DUN DUN DEEERRR something bad happened. The aftermath of this really bad thing was serene music and an idyllic picture of mountainous terrain with an almost divine evening sky and sunset… how is that sad!? How does that imagery and sound enhance the moment, to me, it didn’t, it was just a bit silly, pretty but silly.
I griped a reasonable amount about this movie, but I’m happy with it, because the overall quality of the movie was higher than most fantasy offerings, and I hope for more in the future. This is a good, vanilla or white-bread fantasy movie. Not great, but not terrible. There might be the odd overused cliché but they can be ignored and there are some good performances. Lest we forget, pretty scenery, special effects and dragons :p