Eragon (2006) (part 5 of 13)
Meanwhile, Eragon is sitting outside somewhere, and looking at the scar on his hand. For some reason, it’s become a lot smaller in the interim. Maybe the swelling went down, or something. Or maybe this movie just has shitty continuity. Who knows?
The dragon wanders up, and Eragon starts talking to it. He asks it where its mother is, as if it can answer him. He also asks whether she abandoned it, like his did. “Did she leave in a great hurry?” Okay, somebody’s bitter.
You know, I’m actually glad they made him be angry about his mother running out on him. If nothing else, it’s realistic, and a great improvement over the book. There, he never really got upset about anything that mattered—which is why some have made a case for Eragon having sociopathic personality disorder in the book. For the record, we’ll see some pretty sociopathic behaviour from the movie version later on.
The dragon, obviously sensing his distress, snuggles up to him. Honestly, this is one of the most effective scenes in the whole movie. Hardly any dialogue, but you can feel the bond forming between them. It was the same in the book, too—the dragon starts out tiny, mute, and extremely sweet, and you really connect with her. Now, in both the book and the movie, the “kernel” of the story is the relationship between Eragon and his dragon. Here, as in the book, you can see the tiny seed of a beautiful friendship, just for a moment, and I really, really wish that you couldn’t. Sadly, this only serves to make the movie even more painful later on.
Cut to an ominous-looking fortress at night. I’m pretty sure this is where Arya is imprisoned. It’s not named here, but going by the book, this place is Gil’ead. (Gilgalad? Who’s that? He’s a character from Tolkien, you say? Don’t be silly.)
Durza is standing… somewhere. At first it looks like he’s on the edge of a pit of some kind (and I was all ready to shout “Crack of Doom ripoff”), but now that I look closer, it appears he’s in the forest somewhere. So I’ll be damned if I know why they bothered with the establishing shot of Gil’ead.
He uses his magic to create a pair of rather nasty-looking humanoid creatures out of thin air. They’re wrapped in bandages, and look a bit like three-month-old dead ninjas. He calls them “Ra’zac” and instructs them to “kill the rider.” What, you can’t be bothered to do it yourself? Why are the evil guys in movies like this so damn lazy?
I mean, the King has a dragon of his own, and at one point he was strong enough to wipe out (presumably) hundreds of other fully-trained riders all by himself. (In the book, he had thirteen traitors helping him, known as the Forsworn, which were in no way reminiscent of the Thirteen Forsaken in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time.) And yet, Galbatorix can’t be bothered to go and deal with just one rider who’s had no training at all? And doesn’t even know he’s a rider yet? The only conclusion to be drawn is that the big villain is a lazy jackass. Yeah, I’m really scared of him now.
So the Ra’zac run off to begin their evil mission. Incidentally, in the book, they were basically rip-offs of the Nazgul (shocking, I know) that resembled giant insects, and were cannibals, and they weren’t created by Durza. So I have no idea why the filmmakers made them into these weird mummy-looking things.
Cut to Eragon striding through the streets of his village at night. He overhears a guy in a mess hall somewhere, who’s moaning about how he hasn’t heard from his two sons since they were dragged off to join the army. I wish I had a bucket right now, to catch the river of tears I’m shedding for him. He’s interrupted by Jeremy Irons, AKA Brom, AKA Obi-Brom Kenobi, who’s sitting nearby.
Brom prepares to do what he did in the book—namely, tell an Expository Legend. He starts off by saying that once the land lived in peace (well, it would still be living in peace, if the Varden stopped antagonising the King), when they were ruled by dragon riders. Uh, dude, you’re still being ruled by a rider. What the hell difference does it make? I mean, if there’s only one now, at least you haven’t got lots of them fighting amongst themselves and causing all kinds of destruction, like you yourself said had happened in the opening voiceover. What’s the King gonna do—fight himself?
And I still refuse to believe that the old way of life was that peaceful, especially if it needed dragon riders to keep everyone in line. Also, we haven’t been told that they operated under a democratic system or anything, so as far as we know, it was still a dictatorship, only with more than one person dishing out the orders. Seems to me that having just one dictator would bring a bit more stability. But you can’t expect a nineteen-year-old fanfiction writer to understand that sort of subtlety. The King is evil because he says so, period, and that applies to the movie, too.
There are soldiers nearby, who fly into a rage when they hear someone call their King a traitor. They run over to shut Brom up. However, Eragon butts in, and shouts at them to let Brom finish. And then, the soldiers totally beat the shit out of Eragon for his insolence.
Oh, my mistake. That’s just what would logically happen in a scene like this. No, what really happens is they back off. No, seriously. The soldiers submit to the demands of some random farm brat. I don’t get it either.
Brom gets up and mutters about how the King will pay for his crimes, and the time of dragon riders will come again. But if the King is a rider, that means the time of riders never ended in the first place. Moron. That said, he gives Eragon a Meaningful Look and leaves.
Well, it seems some unspecified amount of time has passed, and here comes what’s easily the stupidest scene in the entire movie, which is saying a lot. And this wasn’t even in the book, so it appears that the screenwriters actually managed to beat the kid author at his own game. Ready?
So, Eragon is in a field with the dragon, which has grown noticeably larger since the last time we saw it. He’s running with the dragon perched on his outstretched hands, babbling about how Brom said the time of dragon riders would come again. Eragon has now figured out that since he’s got a dragon, he can become a rider, and he’s trying to get the dragon to fly by throwing it up in the air like it’s a kite.
The dragon isn’t too happy about this, but when he throws it up again, it takes off anyway and flies up and over the field. And then it soars away over the trees and disappears. Cut back to Eragon, wearing a truly hilarious “well, damn” look. Yep, your dragon just ran off on you, pretty-boy. What’re you gonna do now, eh? Loser.
“She’s gone,” he says, crestfallen. Boy, he really loves stating the obvious, doesn’t he? Then he suddenly cries out and looks down to see that the scar on his hand has started to glow orange. He stands there staring at it like a moron, and then it’s back to the dragon, which is now flying through the clouds. There’s a weird, fiery glow around it, and as it flies it—oh gods, I don’t think I can even type this—it starts growing bigger and bigger until it’s an adult, while the music blares triumphantly.
And no, that was not a creative “time passing” montage. That was real time. We just saw a dragon grow to adult size in the space of ten seconds. Head, meet desk. I think this could be the beginning of a very beautiful friendship. (See? I can steal from other people too! Give me a million bucks and a movie deal!) In the book, the dragon grew to full size in six months, but the movie actually managed to take an even more asinine shortcut than that.
The music continues to blare triumphantly, like we’ve just seen something amazing, instead of the most naked copout in the history of film. Well, actually, I guess it is amazing, at least in the depth of its stupidity. Even for the hardcore bad movie watcher, moments like this don’t come often.
By the way, this scene is reason #1 why the Eragon-dragon relationship fails. From this point on, there’s no more character development from either one of them—the movie will definitely not be showing any more cute moments between them. And since the baby dragon has disappeared, we just lost the connection we were beginning to have with her. So, now we have no connection to either character, and the two of them don’t have a real bond with each other, either. Nice going, movie.
The now-adult dragon flies back down and lands in front of Eragon. And I will admit that she looks pretty impressive. She’s very, very obviously CGI, but she’s nice to look at—although for some reason she has feathered wings. No, really. I guess this was their attempt at being “original”. *gigglesnort* Luckily for me, though, she’s not cute any more.
And here begins one of the most annoying aspects of the movie: Eragon and the dragon can now communicate with each other telepathically. Which basically means that you hear all of their conversations in echoing voiceover. It gets old very fast, and doesn’t have any impact on the plot beyond being a bald ripoff of the telepathically-linked dragons and humans in Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern. See? I wasn’t joking about the fanfiction thing.
“What’s happening?” Eragon thinks, and the dragon replies. No more R2-D2 noises: now she’s being voiced by a bored Rachael Weisz. And I mean, really bored. This makes the voice-acting in Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings sound like Andy freakin’ Serkis. She tells him that Brom was right, and the riders are coming again. Eragon is astonished.
The dragon: I’ve waited a thousand years to hear your thoughts!
Oh my gods. She waited that long to share thoughts with this idiot? That’s it? That was her big ambition? And would you believe she stays this co-dependent for the rest of the movie?
She tells him her name is Saphira. Hey… she’s a blue dragon and her name is Saphira! I get it!
…I wish I were dead.
Saphira adds that Eragon is her rider. No, really, I wish I were dead.
Eragon gives her his patented gormless look and repeats, “Rider?” Like he’s never heard the word before. But the surprise doesn’t last long, before he starts smirking. Okay, I admit I would do the same thing in his place.
So our hero has just been given a great gift, and believe me, it’s not just limited to having a dragon for a slave (I’d say “sidekick”, but I was raised to be honest). Along with the dragon, he also gets magic, psychic powers, as well as increased strength, speed and endurance. Essentially, he’s become a superhero. In the movie, he comes off as ridiculously powerful, which is bad enough. But in the books, he’s basically a demigod. There’s nothing, repeat, nothing he can’t do. Well, that’s not completely true. Growing a likeable personality does remain beyond him.
Are you familiar with the term “Gary Stu”? Google can be your friend on this, but if you’d rather not look it up, just keep reading this recap. You’ll learn exactly what a Gary Stu is, because Eragon is the biggest Gary Stu character I’ve ever encountered. He just got everything handed to him on a silver platter, and will continue to do so, and is now the most important and powerful character in this fictional world. Stu, Stu, Stu Stu Stu!