out of Five
Running time: 104
The effects are impressive but the script, acting and direction are desperately dull. As much as it would dearly love to be, Eragon is no Lord of the Rings.
What's it all about?
Set in the land of Alagaesia, where practically everyone has a silly name, 17-year-old Eragon (newcomer Edward Speleers) is a strapping blond farm boy who finds a dragon egg in the woods. The egg hatches into a dragon named Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz) and Eragon becomes her rider, joining the fight against the evil tyrant Galbatorix (John Malkovich), who once slaughtered all the dragon riders.
Naturally, Eragon gets a little help in his quest, largely from grizzled ex-rider Brom (Jeremy Irons, attempting a McKellen), feisty love interest Ayra (Sienna Guillory) and a mysteriously accented stranger named Murtagh (Garrett Hedlund). But will their help be enough to fight off Galbatorix's evil flame-haired sorceror, Durza (Robert Carlyle)?
Eragon is based on the book by Christopher Paolini, which he wrote when he was 15 years old. Frankly, it shows, as the dialogue is extremely dull and the plot is basically Star Wars with dragons, only not in a good way.
Speleers handles himself well enough and Malkovich makes the most of the three hours he presumably spent on set, but some of the other performances are appalling, particularly Rachel Weisz, who doesn't bother to give Saphira much of a personality. Meanwhile Carlyle's make-up seems to change dramatically from scene to scene and the less said about Joss Stone's bizarre cameo as a soothsayer, the better.
Admittedly, the dragon effects and battle sequences are pretty good, but they're wasted on a script that makes very little sense. A bit of humour wouldn't have gone amiss either, as it's all frightfully serious and earnest, even when the dialogue is so laughably awful.
The effects keep this watchable but there's not enough here to make you look forward to the (planned) sequels. Disappointing.