The Cast of Characters:
(Edward Speleers). Callow, young, blonde-headed farm boy destined to save the world from the evil Empire by joining an ancient and long-dead order of peacekeepers. No, I’m not talking about Luke Skywalker. I’m talking about the stupidest, most self-centred hero in the history of storytelling—in fact, the very definition of a Gary Stu.
(Rachael Weisz). The wimpiest dragon ever. No personality, no opinions, no character arc. Basically, a big, computer-generated plot device. Despite being the last of an ancient and powerful race, Saphira chooses to partner with the most idiotic rider imaginable, instead of just eating him like any self-respecting dragon would do.
(Jeremy Irons). A former member of an ancient order of peacekeepers, long ago wiped out by traitors. Now living in secret in a backwater community. Plays mentor to our rash hero while treating him like dirt. Bzzt!
Sorry, “Obi-Wan Kenobi” is incorrect. Two guesses what happens to Brom halfway into the movie.
(Garrett Hedlund). The only vaguely likeable character in the entire movie, and cooler than our “hero” to the point that you start wondering why he’s not the main character. He’s better looking, twice as intelligent, and kicks a hundred times more ass than Eragon. Plus, he’s clearly aware that he’s in a stupid movie, making him that much more sympathetic.
(Sienna Guillory). The inevitable love interest. No reason to be in the story at all, except to assure everyone that our hero isn’t gay. (Not that it put off the slashfic writers.) Oh, and she’s meant to be an elf. You’re just going to have to take my word on that.
(Robert Carlyle). The Evil King’s right-hand man. No, not Darth Vader. Durza is supposedly a sorcerer who was taken over by evil spirits and turned into a supernatural being called a “Shade”. Wants to kill Eragon very badly, but for some reason can’t be bothered to go out and do it himself.
(John Malkovich). Some bald guy who appears in approximately three scenes in the entire movie, and has no impact on the plot. Apparently, it’s very important that someone kill him, but I really can’t tell why. Also, he’s the only King ever to rule an Empire. Try and figure that one out if you can.
Where has all the originality gone?
I’m not just talking about what’s going on in Hollywood right now, with the slew of remakes and adaptations currently emerging en masse. I’m not just talking about the publication of Eragon, a book that’s essentially an extended Star Wars/Lord of the Rings/Dragonriders of Pern crossover fanfiction starring a Gary Stu.
I’m talking about the latest step that the moviemaking world has taken, by making an adaptation of a book that’s basically Star Wars with the names changed to faux-LotR, conveniently encapsulating both of the current hot trends in filmmaking. Except that in this case, the remake was made without permission, thus saving the expense of paying George Lucas or Tolkien’s estate for the rights. I can’t help but be impressed.
I suppose it was pretty much inevitable that Eragon would get a movie adaptation. At the moment, Hollywood will adapt anything that counts as a bestseller (and since the book was written by a 19-year-old kid—and published by his parents, incidentally—it became a bestseller pretty quickly regardless of its quality). And of course, fantasy is very much “in” at the moment.
The rights to Eragon (and, it’s rumoured, the sequels—hey, it’s not fantasy unless it’s a trilogy) were sold to Fox very early on, and the movie went into production a couple of years ago. Expectations were quite high—even among people who were unimpressed by the book. I wasn’t a fan, but I had very high hopes for the movie. If the plot and characters were re-imagined by someone older and more experienced than their original author, I reasoned, they could actually make for an exciting movie.