Forget Bheja Fry, dudes. Eragon is the funniest film this week. What, it isn’t meant to be funny? Oh, well, it still is. You try watching a Star Wars clone set in a Lord Of The Rings universe with a straight face, then.
This is all our fault, anyway – the kind of success that the Lord of The Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter films enjoyed the world over meant that every studio wants a Rings/Potter franchise for their own. This has led to the pain inducing deluge of fantasy film adapted from every half decent book imaginable making it onto the screen as a CGI infested dance of fire, dragons and magic. Crucio!
If you haven’t read the book by Christopher Paolini yet, this film will make you want to congratulate yourself on saving 247 rupees, really. Okay, you can’t be dismissive of something you haven’t experienced, but the basic plot as outlined by the film is so very obviously a mish-mash of all popular franchises rolled into one, that you just can’t help but snigger.
So we have young Eragon (Edward Speleers), a farmer being raised by his uncle (Alun Armstrong), living under the tyrannical rule of the evil king Galbatorix (John Malkovich), enforced by his chief sorcerer, Dragon Rider Durza (Robert Carlyle). Of course, Galbatorix has wrested power by betraying his fellow Dragon Riders, who were the warriors dedicated to fight evil all over the land.
When Arya (Sienna Guillory), the guardian of the last Dragon egg, is captured, she *poof * sends the egg to a forest where our boy Eragon is, and it hatches for him. The little dragon thingie grows into Saphira (Rachel Weisz). Brom (Jeremy Irons), the local old wise guy, takes Eragon under his wings, teaches him the ways, and escorts him to the Rebellion, members of a rag-tag band who want to overthrow the Empire. They meet with a roguish ally, and off they go on their wacky adventures.
Now read that again. Read all that again with Dragon Rider substituted with Jedis, and you’ll get the idea. Yup, it’s that simple, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, say no more - say no more. Not content with just lifting directly from one iconic franchise, director Stefen Fangmeier goes ahead and creates a visual style lifting the Rings franchise in its entirety. There’s even the Naz’gul and what not.
Oh, I’m so tired. I’m tired of young men with destinies to fulfill, of wizened old mentors who guide them, of damsels in distress, of villains who want to rule everything with tyranny, and lovable rogues who swash and buckle their way to our screen. I’m tired, and sick, and I hate it hate it hate it.
Sigh. Well, let’s leave my personal prejudices aside, and let go of the fact that most of the film is derivative of one famous franchise after the other. On its own, how does the film measure up? Well, like I said, it’s hilarious. The screenplay doesn’t serve much purpose other than serve up one ludicrous moment after the other with dialog that even Surendra Sharma couldn’t say with a straight face.
Oh, and the less said about the cast, the better. While Speleers and Guillory are eager and full of enthusiasm for their parts, they lack the charisma needed for the kind of film that this is. It’s not the youngsters that disappoint, though; it’s the much-respected mad old men. Irons has such a thankless role, and he murmurs and drawls his dialog without any of the self-awareness that would have made his act redeemable.
Malkovich is so over the top and loony that you immediately break into a guffaw every time he opens his mouth. And Carlyle is just trying so hard to be Darth Maul, he ends up being R2D2. Heh. Ah there’s Djimon Hounsou as well, and oh boy, is he embarrassed to be in this laughable film. He just looks into the screen and asks to be forgiven, or at least forgotten.
Filled with vaguely medieval sounding dialog, and full of imagery stolen from various fantasy films, this still would have been a so-bad-it’s-good film if not for the slow and meandering direction by Fangmeier. The film just plods along, and you keep looking at your watch, waiting for it to get a move along. That’s suicide for a 100-odd minute film.
Eragon is a derivative, unoriginal, unintentionally funny, and a decidedly over-the-top film that you should leave well enough alone. If there is anything that still makes you want to go see it, please hit it on the head right away. God help us, they even set it up for the sequel.