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Eragon

DVD Two Stars

Eragon has not long been released on DVD in a double disc offering that promises a raft of extras.

The film is adapted from the first in a trilogy of novels from Christopher Paolini called Eragon, the others being Eldest and Empire, which is as yet unwritten. Although the story owes a lot to world's written before it in both fantasy and science fiction, it is a very easy one to slip into and believe in.

EragonPoster.jpgEragon is a young man that lives in a world not far from other fantasy epics such as Lord of the Rings. His land is ruled by an evil, oppressive King who is the last Dragonrider.

A Dragonrider is a, as it sounds, someone who rides a Dragon, but it's not just as easy as getting on board, a Dragon has to choose its rider.

So it is that a single Dragon egg is stolen from the King and, through magic, ends up with Eragon, its rider. Together they become the hope of a world to rise up against the King and his oppressive armies.

Sounds quite a grand idea, but the film doesn't stand up to the grand ideas that come through that short blurb, or I would hope the book itself.

The film tries to pack too much into itself and is far too aware of the age of the audience of the novels, and so ends up stretched too thin and racing towards the action sequences of the film.

After a few opening sequences you begin to settle into the pace of the film, a pace which really is just too fast. We seem to race through character development for all the characters, including that of Eragon, played by Edward Speelers, and his Dragon Saphira, played by Rachel Weisz, the real central characters of the story.

It does feel that we're being pulled quickly onto the action and given the barest of narrative and quick glimpses of the characters to race into the battle sequences.

Outside the action sequences it doesn't leave much but paper thin and stereotypical characters with some similarly written dialogue, which at times can be pretty cheesy.

Saying that though, there are moments where there is too much dialogue, because the film races to a point where we find that the story needs to catch up. It's here where we find characters such as Brom, played by Jeremy Irons, giving long explanatory speeches which aren't entirely necessary to explain as much as possible before the next bolt forward.

Looking past these faults the film does provide good entertainment, and the action sequences are superbly done with great effects. At times the Dragon captures your imagination so well that you begin to believe in them and accept them as another character.

Jeremy Irons is fun, and the other names are quite a surprise to see here, especially as their appearances are often very short. In the case of John Malkovich he hardly even says a word and shares as much screen time as one of the extras, much like that of the character played by Djimon Hounsou.

Robert Carlyle plays a villain very well in the film, but once again we find he's just not explored enough to pull us into the film and being to hate him. But the big surprise is that Sienna Guillory as Arya is perhaps the strongest character in the film.

Overall the film is light entertainment and a very child focused and friendly movie. With thin and stereotypical plot and characters, you'll find yourself groaning at the dialogue and waiting for the action.


Picture


Presented: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
The picture is strong and combined with the excellent effects it makes for a very convincing tale. When not in darkness the colours are bright and bold, giving the feel of a fantasy world, and when the night scenes come the picture is unchanged in its quality.

Audio

Presented: DD 5.1, DTS Very good use of the DTS track which I listened to. The sound moves around you with effects coming from multiple speakers, and it really does do a good job of pulling you into the film.

Extras

Presented: Audio Commentary with Director X, Extended Scenes with Director's Commentary, Character Design with Director's Commentary, Behind the Scenes Feature, Storyboards, Visual Effects Featurettes and Pronunciations of magical words.

Audio Commentary:
This was a very good audio commentary because it focused on the film, the characters, and how the scenes were built. However it doesn't offer anything too insightful and exciting.

Extended Scenes:
The scenes are nicely packaged between sections of existing scenes so that you can see where they fit in the film. The Director's commentary is a welcome addition as we get to hear why these weren't included.

Character Design:
We get quite a few insights into all the main characters in the film and how they developed visually, add on another commentary by the Director and this is a strong and informative extra.

Behind the Scenes Feature:
This feature is huge. It spends a lot of time going into the film, and gives us lots of interesting information and facts. It talks about the book as well as the film, and how these tie together. We are also treated to discussions from just about everyone involved in the film from the Director and stars through the Effects people and the writer of the novel.

Visual Effects Featurettes:
A handful of scenes where visual effects were key are taken and broken down for the viewer. We see the untreated version of the scene layered piece by piece until we get the final scene. Through this we hear from one of the visual effects as he talks us through it, and gives some very interesting information on how effects are pulled together.

Storyboards, Pronunciation of magic words:
The remaining extras are static pages of information, but would be good for complete fans of the books and film.


Overall:


The film isn't a great one, but children, fans of the novels, and those seeking easy light entertainment might find it a better film than I did. The film could do with more depth to the characters and plot, and less of the reliance on the big action sequences.

The DVD offerings make the package stronger however, with an excellent Behind the Scenes feature and interesting Visual Effects pieces that add to the experience of Eragon.


UK IMDB Film Details
Eragon on Amazon.com
Eragon on Amazon.co.uk





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Comments

I don't feel bad then giving it a 1 1/2 in my review. :P

I turned this crap off half way through.

If you want a very good fantasy film see Russia's 2007 release Wolfhound.

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