Eragon (2006) (part 12 of 13)
Then it’s back to the armoury. Ergy is just putting on his scaly turtleneck, when who should arrive but Arya, miraculously recovered from her brush with drawn-out and melodramatic death. And now she’s wearing her own armour, which competes quite fiercely with Eragon’s to be the more stupid-looking of the two. She also has what appears to be solid gold feathers in her hair. Yeah, that should be a whole lot of use on the battlefield.
Eragon looks pleased to see her, but I’m too busy noticing the really weird thing behind him. It’s a wooden shield painted with Australian Aboriginal-style designs, and what it’s doing here, I really couldn’t say.
While I’m checking that out, he tells her that “you look… [long pause in which he really wants to say “beautiful”]… fit for battle.” Aww, Ergy’s got a crush! Arya smiles back, so I guess the attraction’s mutual. (Trust me: it wasn’t in the book. Or the sequel. But he followed her around like a lovesick puppy anyway.)
A quick cut outside shows the rest of the Varden still getting ready for battle. You know the drill—lots of shouting, people handing out weapons, flammable oil being poured into containers marked “THIS WILL COME INTO PLAY LATER”, that sort of thing.
Inside, Arya tells Ergy to be strong. She says the search for a rider “has been long and dangerous.”
“Some of us have carried the egg for as long as we could remember, hoping it would hatch,” she continues. Oh. So they didn’t only just steal it from the Empire a few weeks ago. It really wasn’t made all that clear, and the voiceover at the beginning was kind of vague on the subject. But that doesn’t explain why they were transporting the damn thing across country like that, instead of just keeping it in their stronghold. (In the book, it was because Arya was taking the thing back and forth to Ellesméra, the elvish city, so that children there could touch it. Why she didn’t just use her magical teleportation spell to get it there, I don’t know.)
“And fate finally carried it to you,” she finishes, smiling at him. Look, I think we all “get” that Eragon is the chosen hero destined to save the world and bring back the riders. So could you please shut up about it? You’re only reminding us that the best they could manage after a long and dangerous search was a sociopathic imbecile. I do believe I’d just surrender to the Empire at this point.
“Why me?” says Eragon. Because you’re the protagonist and you’re a Gary Stu. Any other questions?
“Because that’s who Saphira chose,” Arya non-answers. Yes, well, given the level of intelligence Saphira has shown so far, that’s not very encouraging.
More boring “preparing for battle” footage follows: Hrothgar and Ajihad make plans, while people are busy pouring oil into ponds. Is it really a good idea to pollute the water supply like that?
Meanwhile, more Urgals are running along somewhere. Man, you can just about cut the tension with a feather, can’t you? An abrupt cut takes us back to the armoury, where a suit of dragon-sized armour is hanging up. Yes, they made armour for Saphira.
“They worked through the night,” says Arya. Yes, I suppose they’d have to. And it’s not like it’s simple armour, either—we’re talking a helmet shaped to fit Saphira’s head perfectly (what, did they measure her?), along with a really long, jointed neck-plate, and other bits to go on her legs and tail. I’m. Not. Buying. It. Plus, I thought Saphira could barely carry three people. Seems like this armour should weigh a hell of a lot more than that.
While they’re wasting time checking it out, the Horn of Helm Hammerhand (well, that’s what it sounds like to me) sounds, signalling that the enemy has arrived. Arya hurries off, but Eragon wastes a moment to stare after her, clearly thinking, “Man, I’d like to hit that.” Seriously, you can see it all over his face. It’s great to know he’s really got his head in the game, here.
Then he looks up at the dragon armour again, and it’s actually got embossed decorations on it. And not simple ones, either—the whole thing is covered in them.
Cut to people hurrying off to fight, and it’s suddenly nighttime. That was quick. Ajihad stands on a balcony thing somewhere, and now he’s wearing… well, I think it’s meant to be a helmet, but it looks like a giant tea cosy decorated with beads. And it quite possibly still has the kettle inside it.
Nasuada is with him, wearing an equally hideous outfit, and a bunch of people move into position on a wooden bridge. And then we cut to the Urgals, who are… still coming. How long does it take to walk through a few tunnels? It’s been one entire day, at least! Are they going in circles, or what?
Eragon, now in his armour, is standing in the entrance to a cave and watching the activity below him, and it’s all very dramatic and stuff. Below him, the Varden move into position. Ajihad just stands there doing nothing, while someone else issues the command for the archers to get into position. I guess he’s one of those leaders who believes in delegation. Or maybe he just can’t be bothered. Either way, both he and Nasuada look quite disinterested in the proceedings. (And Nasuada is wearing way too much eye makeup here. And it’s not just that makeup would be kind of, well, nonexistent in a faux-medieval fantasy land; it’s also that it makes her look like a transvestite.)
Some very boring “tense waiting” follows, and then a big hole opens in the cliff wall, and the Urgals finally come charging through to do battle. And no, I don’t know how they broke through the wall so quickly, or why they didn’t just look for a normal exit.
The climactic battle finally begins, while Eragon just stands at the entrance to the cave and doesn’t do a damn thing. Um, do you think you could maybe do something a bit more useful than just standing there? This isn’t pay-per-view, Ergy. Plus, you kind of told them you’d help them fight, remember?
There’s a clink behind him, and Saphira shows up. She has a real knack for coming along right after it would have been useful, doesn’t she? She’s now wearing her armour, complete with helmet, and it looks absolutely nothing like the prop armour we just saw a few minutes ago. I mean, really nothing like it. The difference is so obvious that I actually made a noise of shocked incredulity right there in the cinema, which was so loud that people turned to look at me.
Eragon faces Saphira. Instead of say, doing something useful, he asks her, “Why me?”
“You choose a leader for his heart,” Saphira says. Sorry, what? I listened to this line a few times, and that’s definitely what she says. But I’ll be damned if I know what it’s supposed to mean. Apparently, it makes sense to Ergy, because he responds with his own non sequitur: “But I am not without fear!” Gods, even Frodo Baggins wasn’t this much of a wuss, and he had to make due without riding a dragon, being taller than your crotch, or having any kewl powers other than a magic ring that attracted evil and corruption.
“Without fear, there cannot be courage,” Saphira says. A piece of cut-price, shallow wisdom which is absolutely typical of the book’s Saphira, but only surfaces in this Saphira now. “But when we are together,” she says, “it is our enemies who should be afraid!” Oh yeah, I bet they’ll run in panic when they see how mightily you crash into a tree, Saphira. But hey, there’s always a chance Eragon’s whining might make them all commit suicide.
Anyway, this pep talk gives our hero the courage he needs, and he yells yet another line for the trailer: “We fight as one!” Whereupon Saphira suddenly breathes a big puff of fire. Yes, she figured out how to do it. And she’s only, what, two weeks old by now? I’m impressed. See? This is my impressed face! Whee!
Sorry, I think I’m starting to lose it. And it only took an hour and twenty-three minutes, too.
Back to the battle, where Arya is doing nothing besides directing some of the archers. What’s wrong with these people? Ajihad signals to Ergy, and he, seated on Saphira’s back, yells: “Into the sky! To win or die!” Hey, he’s a poet but doesn’t know it!
Saphira takes off and flies low over the battlefield, breathing fire on the enemies. And somehow, she manages to do this without killing anyone on the “good” side. Whatever.
And look! It’s Murtagh! How’s it hanging, Murty? Pun intended, because he’s in a cage hanging from the ceiling. No, honestly. It’s like he’s a parrot.
An Urgal, on fire, bursts in, and Murtagh gets this awesome slow-motion shot where he swings from the ceiling and kicks him out through the bars of the cage. Why does Murtagh do all the really cool stuff in this movie? Ergy never got to do any slow-motion ass-kicking. If they want us to think Murtagh is a million times more heroic than Eragon, they’re doing a great job.
So Murtagh breaks out of the cage without much trouble. I gotta wonder why he didn’t just do that in first place, but that would’ve robbed us of that awesome slow-motion bit, so never mind. Cut to Arya and Ajihad in the thick of battle, both stylishly kicking some Urgal ass in a manner not seen on the big screen since, oh, I don’t know, Return of the King. No, really. If you told me the fight scenes were coordinated by a fanboy who’s watched the LotR trilogy every day of his life, I’d instantly take your word for it without any evidence.
Meanwhile, Murtagh has found a sword and starts fighting, and he’s really awesome at it, using all sorts of neat moves, like throwing his sword to kill someone. And his tunic gets torn, giving us a good look at his abs. He picks up a bow and fires an arrow, saving King Hrothgar’s life. As a friend of mine put it: “Fire that arrow, sexy bitch!” She’s kind of weird, but I get her meaning.
Meanwhile, Arya looks up and sees thousands of Imperial soldiers coming down the cliff face. I have no idea how they climbed up and over it, but there you go. And large portions of said cliff face are on fire, primarily because it looks cool. Seriously, that’s the only reason for it. So, looks like things aren’t going too well, huh? Sucks to be you, Arya. No, wait, it sucks to be me. I’m the one actually watching this shit.
Ajihad looks up and sees even more soldiers coming, and pulls an “oh no, we’re doomed!” face. And I now see that most of the movie’s budget went towards hiring extras. Hey, they sure didn’t blow it all on top-notch screenwriters.
Cut to Durza arriving on the scene and—urgh!—he looks really awful now. He’s got huge cracks around his mouth, like he’s in serious need of some Chap Stick. Unfortunately, this doesn’t make me hate/fear him—it just makes me feel revolted. He looks down on the battle with evident pleasure. Say, is he supposed to be evil or something? Because I’ve got this weird feeling…
The battle continues to rage among soldiers wearing really phoney-looking armour. Saphira flies around, burning things indiscriminately. You know what? I really think that’s a bad idea.
A pissed-off Durza recites an incantation that summons up a giant bat-looking thing made out of smoke. Eragon, oblivious to this, does a really stupid move where he gets Saphira to fly upside-down, so he can take out a group of soldiers about to kill Murtagh. But before he does it, he actually feels compelled to shout, “Time to return the favour!” Maybe you can concentrate on saving Murtagh’s life first, then worry about coming up with le mot juste a little later. Murtagh grins and runs off.