Welcome to Screen Savers, your favourite segment that plunges right in to the depths of all those dodgy films that plague our existence, in the hopes of sparing you those precious minutes you could have wasted.
Today, we delve into a phenomenon that generally can be hit and miss. The phenomenon of the book to movie adaptations. When film makers decide to take the monumental challenge of interpreting a novel for the big screen, they are most certainly fighting an uphill battle from the word go. Books, no matter the length have the luxury of development, and the ability to delve deep into the plot and its devices. When it comes to translating that to the big screen, screenwriters are forced to condense these elaborate works, into a movie that’s generally less that two hours. So there always has to be sacrifices. Some movies have succeeded in finding the happy medium, knowing what is relevant, and what is not, examples being the Harry Potter series, or the more recent The Fault in Our Stars. Other films however do not find the right medium and are left with terrible reviews and a studio with a huge hole in their pockets.
I have to admit, deciding what movie to choose really was a tough one, as I swayed between the Percy Jackson movies, Eragon and The Mortal Instruments, three adaptations that really did not receive warm receptions when they saw release. I have decided to go with Eragon though as almost ten years later, there are some fantastic examples of fantasy series in the same vein, done right.
Directed by Stefen Fangmeier with screenplay by Peter Buchman, Eragon is the absolute definition of teen fantasy, with its uber baddies, morally ambiguous mentor, magic and of course a dragon. The movie opens with an evil shade, Durza attempting to steal a precious “stone” from a group of elves, but before he can get his evil claws on it, one of the elves used her magic to send the “stone” far away. While hunting in the Spine, Eragon as Eragon fires his arrow at his target, the “stone” appears before him. As Eragon lives with his uncle and cousin in a small farm on the outskirts of town, his first reaction is to sell the sapphire stone, for meat, however when the butcher hears where Eragon found the stone, he is no longer interested. Eragon decides to hide the “stone” in his stable, but after a while , it begins to crack open revealing a small baby dragon. As Eragon connects with the dragon (who he names Saphira) the other dragons riders feel the new connection including Mr. Bad Guy King Galbatorix, a dragon rider that turned on his fellow riders, betraying them, leaving himself the last remaining dragon rider until Eragon.
So, the super baddies eventually find Eragon’s house, and kill his uncle, which sets the big adventure in motion as he travels with his new mentor and once upon a dragon rider, Brom. A journey which sees him learn magic, learn to fly his dragon, and save the elf who was held captive after teleporting the egg, all leading to them finally arriving at the Varden, located in the mountains, and the primary resistance to King Galbatorix.
So What’s The Problem?
Ok, let me just say, I have a very high tolerance for terrible movies. There are some gosh darn awful movies out there, that have some of the worst reviews, that I still quite enjoyed. *cough* Fantastic Four *cough*. So by no means do I think this movie should be deemed as one of the worst movies ever. Because it’s not. But looking back at it ten years later, I can see now how flawed it is in its execution. The narrative is too long winded and the pacing definitely needs a caffeine kick. I’m not saying movies need epic action sequences to be good. This movie has a descent amount of action, but the entire plot sees them being chased, defending themselves, then running, again, and again.
Time is also a ridiculously annoying thing in this movie. It goes from day to night in the space of Eragon walking in and out of a building, or from afternoon to suddenly being morning. So there are a lot if inconsistent sequences like this scattered throughout the movie. One of the funniest for me is when Eragon leaves the burning farmhouse after his uncle has been killed. He waits on a hill and suddenly he has wet hair, and it’s lashing rain. The camera switches to show his point of view of the farm house in burning flames. No rain. and cutting back to him, wet again. The casting is another issue for me, in particular regarding accents. Where Eragon’s cousin and uncle had completely different accents to each other. The evil King Galbatorix’s accent too did not have a very threatening or ominous feel, and his portrayal seemed rather flat, and uninterested, similar to the actor portraying Eragon who really only had one continuous facial expression from the beginning to the end of the movie.
Critical reception when the film first saw release were not favourable, with the film currently sitting with a 16% critics rating on rotten tomatoes, with one such critic saying “Give Eragon a few years: by then it might be delightfully bad.” A statement that I would have to agree, as I do feel that sums it up perfectly. It’s not the best movie, but it does have a certain charm to it. That animation is fantastic, and it is mores a pity that the movie lacked any real emotion, that could pull an audience in.
When you see how successful Game of Thrones has done since then, it’s clear that it is a film that could very well be rebooted at any time. But as with Game of Thrones, I feel like it is a movie best suited for television. With the amount of character development, and world building required, it can be exhausting and almost feel bombarding hearing so many new names, and cities and spells in such a short amount of time. I would very much like to see it in some other form (come on Netflix!).
I will finish by saying, if you want to experience the incredible world of Eragon, pick up the Inheritance Cycle book series as they have infinitely more to offer than the movie. But I’d very much love to hear your opinions, so leave a comment down below, and let me know if you’ve either read the books, or seen the movie.
That’s your screen saved for another week. You’re welcome!