Sunday, January 20, 2008


Well, I finally saw the Eragon movie. We bought a used copy it at the local DVD rental place and I snuggled up with my daughter who loves the movie.

I do not love the movie.

First, it was derivative in the worst sense of the word. If you've read Lord of the Rings, Dragonriders of Pern and watched Star Wars then watching Eragon is something like watching clips from all those but simply recast and smushed together.

Second, they filmed the book, not a movie. Or at least it felt like they did. Someone flipped through the book and told the actors that, "Okay, now we've got a scene where Eragon races home to find his dead uncle. Do that one."

Flips page.

Now he's got a talkie bit with the crusty 'Obi Wan' dude. Do that one now."

There's little attempt to translate the story into a different medium and as a result it felt like I was being told about the story rather than being told the story.

Third, it was derivative. I know, I already mentioned that but heck, in every scene there was the poor shadow of a character I'd seen or read elsewhere. There was Wormtongue, here was Obi Wan, there was the fortune teller (I can't place where she's from as everybody and there dog inserts her in their movie and/or book. I figure the actress who played her was someones girlfriend. Most fantasy or Scifi flicks seem to have the one character who's played - barely- by the blonde the producer or directer is currently boinking.). And it wasn't simply the plot and characters that were derivative, it was even the way they shot and lit the story. Mysterious foreground light on a night riding scene, circling helicopter shots...Blech.

Lastly, it had John Malkovitch. Now, the guy is a fine actor but whenever he's cast in a movie where he's surrounded by accents his own voice is jarring and ugly. He's strictly meant for contemporary films. Thankfully, he's only in the film for a few minutes as they just stuck him in to tell us about this bad guy we're supposed to be afraid of and then forgot about him for most of the film.

I am not going to eagerly await a sequel. I am not going to read the books. I am going to introduce my kids to much better fantasy so that they come to understand that they can do much, much better than Eragon.


Heather said...

I think you nailed this one. While I wasn't reminded of Star Wars watching it, now that you mention it, that guy is essentially the same character as Obi Wan. I was already annoyed within the first few minutes, as I am by any movie where the talent of the actors severely mismatched. Accents - some more Scottish, some more British. Bothers me. IMO, enough like the Pern series to be considered plagiarism. Boo.

Anonymous said...

LOL. Great post. You're so funny.

I'm not positive, but I think that the book was written by a homeschooled boy. Is that right?

mrs. dani said...

Please do not judge a book by I make it a habit never to watch a movie based on a good book.

The series was indeed written by a homeschool boy. He started the first book at the age of 15! That was not a typo. I did type 15. The first two in the series are out (I got mine at the library) and are very popular. It was suppose to only be 3 books but will now be 4. It is so popular, there is already a waiting list (I am on it) at my library and book 3 does not come out until Sept.

It really is a great series. But like all books, beauty or rather interest is in the eye of the beholder.

But PLEASE do NOT base your opinion on the movie.You do not do yourself or the author justice.

Dawn said...

Mrs. Dani - From what I've read the book does indeed seem to be better than the movie but still very derivative. Now that's not always a problem but I've been a fantasy and sci-fi fan since I was a kid so I tend to think I'd spend the whole book picking it apart (I have a bad tendency to do that). I actually had that problem when I tried to read Harry Potter years back.

I was pretty harsh though so let me amend it by saying that if my kids ever want me to read it I will. Otherwise though I'll be sticking to other stuff!

I should also note that I was a huge fan of a Canadian author who published his first book as a teenager - Gordon Korman.

Anonymous said...

Ds has the book, not sure if he's read it. Heard bad things about the movie.
On derivitavness (my own word), I've been reading Agatha Christie's autobiography, she talks about how everything she every read made it, at least in part, into one of her own books. And IMO, she was a master writer.
On movies from books, books are ALWAYS better than the movie. Except the Outsiders, excellent book and movie :)

Susan said...

I just heard about Gordon Korman from a Canadian friend here. Her son gave a book review of Schooled. He must be a good one, so we'll be checking him out. Schooled sounds like a good place to start.

My boys LOVE the Eragon series, but did not like the movie.

We all had to wait a long time for the Tolkien series to have a good viewing. I think Peter Jackson got that one down. hmm...have I rambled around enough? :-)

JJ Ross said...

Dawn, we tried to read the first book aloud with the kids when it first came out, precisely because it WAS written by a homeschooler. We're big fans of that kind of thing and expected to love it. Found exactly the same problem, this vague sense that the whole thing was a mashup of other tales the author had read (recently!) -- we couldn't even get halfway before just losing interest, even Young Son who is the least "critical" entertainment audience ever.

So that was it for us. Haven't thought about it until now, never noticed the other books coming out, much less the movie. I am so completely unsurprised to hear that the movie plays as annoyingly derivative. . .

OTOH, great writing can develop through first creating in the image of what we most admire. I would certainly read something new by this kid written once he's 35 or 40 with kids of his own maybe, and having developed more realistic perspective on his own overhyped um, precociousness? ;-)