Directed by Stefan Fangmeier. Starring Edward Speleers, Sienna Guillory, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Robert Carlyle, Garrett Hedlund. (2006, PG, 104 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 15, 2006
Dear George Lucas: What gives with this Eragon jazz? I mean, gee whiz, did you seriously think that we wouldn't recognize you, the Great Man, as the guiding, um, force behind this dull retelling of Star Wars? C'mon, man, give us a little credit: An orphaned farm boy raised by his uncle who harbors a secret destiny as the last of a magical breed of warriors? An evil king and an imperiled princess? A sage old mentor and a cocksure sidekick? A rebel alliance, and a desperate, final airborne assault on the forces of darkness? Dude, we've been over this before. Enough, already. It's bad enough that you've cloaked your true identity behind that of a 15-year-old bestselling novelist by the name of Christopher Paolini – which, frankly, is totally creeping us out – (that was you in the chat room the other day asking about the length of my broadsword, wasn't it?) but did you have to remake Episode IV all over again? With friggin' dragons?! Trust me, the X-Wings were infinitely cooler. I can sympathize with your postpartum Tattooine-sextet blues, and I realize it can be difficult for an artist of your caliber to wake up one day and realize that all your lightsabers are suddenly behind you, but don't you think it's best for all concerned to let long ago and far away stay that way? Why resurrect, recontextualize, and reimagine the Jedi saga as a lot of pseudo-medieval, dragon-happy claptrap? Leave that to the pros, like Peter Jackson and his WETA team and keep the Lucasfilm and Skywalker brands out of it. Sure, Irons in the Obi-Wan role is genius casting, but Malkovich as the king/emperor? Ninety seconds of Malkovich is never enough, although the final shot does set up his eventual return in a sequel. I suppose you chose Edward Speleers to embody the dragon-riding savior Eragon because, like Mark Hamill, he's a newcomer to film and sports blond hair and a guileless smile … okay, I get it, but why Carlyle in the Durza/Vader role? Just because the guy cracked skulls and radiated bad juju in Trainspotting shouldn't typecast him as Evil's cat's paw (plus, it reminds us of Ewan McGregor's far better turn as Obi-Wan). Even the effects work here is subpar. All those lousy rear-projection shots of Eragon astride the dragon Saphira look like they were lifted from Reptilicus! And Rachel Weisz as the voice of the dragon? Dude, what have you been smoking? Hobbit shake? So your ruse failed, Mr. Lucas. We know it's you. But take heart, Old Man Skywalker: Your legacy is safe and continues to spawn new and ever more clever permutations on fan sites the Internet over (you should check out the the Kirk/Spock/Vader B&D fanfic sometime!). You're already golden, Dragon Boy. Just try and stay that way.