Eragon (PG)

ANDREW CLARKE What we have in Eragon is a movie that appears to have been stitched together from a number of different sources – including a little of the narrative from Star Wars. But the biggest, audacious, influence has to be from Lord of the Rings.

ANDREW CLARKE

There is an awful lot of déjà vu around at the moment. It seems that Denzel Washington isn't the only person who is reliving events for the second time - anyone watching the new fantasy adventure Eragon will undoubtedly get a similar feeling. Eragon looks and sounds exactly like Peter Jackson's epic big screen version of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, or perhaps, the Dennis Quaid/Sean Connery film Dragonheart.

What we have in Eragon is a movie that appears to have been stitched together from a number of different sources - including a little of the narrative from Star Wars. But the biggest, audacious, influence has to be from Lord of the Rings.

Robert Carlyle plays evil wizard Durza, someone who is charged with tracking down a valuable dragon's egg before it hatches. He traces it to a female elf warrior Arya (Norfolk's Sienna Guillory) who transports it into the forest before she is captured by Durza's Urgals - brutish creatures that he creates from the earth.

The blue dragon's egg is found by innocent farm boy Eragon (Ed Speleers) who it turns out is the one foretold by legend to be the dragon rider destined to overthrow the evil King Galabatorix (John Malkovich). Young Eragon meets up with Brom (Jeremy Irons), a warrior from the old times, a mentor who will teach him what is required of a dragon rider.

Along the way we get scenes of Durza addressing hordes of Urgals from his castle walls - a castle built out of rock on a cliff face.

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Eragon is essentially Luke Skywalker - an orphan raised by his uncle, who is then killed by the king's forces searching for the fledgling dragon. Brom takes the Obi Wan Kenobi role as the wise old mystic warrior who primes his young disciple for the task ahead.

As far as special effects go, the film is fine - it ought to be as director Stefen Fangmeier is an experienced special effects director for George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic. But the look of the film - especially the battle of Farthen Dur where the Urgals attack the rebel Varden stronghold - seems to have been created straight from The Lord of the Rings templates.

Ed Speleers comes across as an inoffensive hero, but is not particularly memorable. Irons goes through the motions of being the experienced veteran warrior, while it is only Carlyle who gets the bit between his teeth and really goes for a suitably larger-than-life performance as the crazed wizard Durza.

When the film isn't being a re-run of The Lord of the Rings, it slips into Dragonheart mode - the film about a knight and a talking dragon. In the original film Sean Connery provided the voice of the dragon - in Eragon the task falls to Rachel Weisz to provide the voice and thoughts of the reptilian fire-breather.

She does the job but even she can't light a fire under such a leaden script. As the film plods its weary way on you can't escape that déjà vu feeling - that you've seen it all before, and seen it done much better and recently too.

Eragon comes across as a cynical cash-in for sword and sorcery fans who loved the spectacle of The Lord of the Rings and are looking for something to fill the current void. Sadly, this doesn't do the job.

 

 

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