DVD Review: Eragon (Two-Disc Special Edition)
By Jeff Swindoll Mar 18, 2007, 21:53 GMT
In a kingdom ravaged by darkness and tyranny, one small ray of hope emerges when Eragon (Speelers) finds a mysterious blue “stone” that turns out to be the last dragon’s egg in existence. From the moment it hatches, their fates are forever entwined, as Eragon and the dragon Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz) join forces with the help of his mentor Brom (Irons) to battle the evil King Galbatorix (Malkovich) ...more
The first novel by Christopher Paolini has been made into a big budget movie, but judging from its performance at the box office you shouldn’t expect the next part anytime soon. However, it’s not half bad, but you better expect to see familiar plotlines.
The kingdom of Alagaesia was once protected by powerful dragons and the knights that rode them through the skies. However, Galbatorix (John Malkovich) betrayed the dragon riders and destroyed them. He know rules the kingdom with an iron fist. He sends his lieutenant Durza (Robert Carlyle) to retrieve the last dragon egg and destroy it. Durza catches up with the elf Arya (Sienna Guillory) who has been charged with keeping the egg from the evil king’s grasp.
Before Durza can take possession of the egg, Arya transports the egg to parts unknown. Eragon (Ed Speleers) is hunting in the forest when the egg materializes before him. He has no idea what he has – that is until it hatches and a blue dragon named Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz) pops out. Soon he’s pursued by the villains and under the tutelage of Brom (Jeremy Irons) – a lost dragon rider. Eragon and his merry band, including Murtagh (Garret Hedlund), have to find their way to the fortress of the Vardons, led by Ajihad (Djimon Hounson), to begin the rebellion that will defeat Galbatorix. As you can imagine, Galbatorix will do anything to keep that from occurring.
Fifteen year old Christopher Paolini got his fantasy novel Eragon published and the rest is history as they say. Needless to say, Hollywood came calling and Twentieth Century Fox was the winner in the sweepstakes (or so they thought). The film was budgeted at 100 million and to date has made about 74 million in the United States, which falls well short of what was expected that the film would generate.
Though the film did make about 240 million worldwide. The problem is that the film is derivative of other works such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Anne McCaffrey, Star Wars, etc. Perhaps even to the annoyance of fans of the book some of the events and characters have been condensed. The film opened to a critical drubbing thanks to its derivative nature.
So I suppose that I’ve got to beat up on it too, right? Well, I could see how others might see those comparisons, but the film did entertain. Although it does not have the feeling of the epic that Fox or fans of the book were hoping for.
The film does have its problems and it doesn’t have the feeling of grandness like one of the films that it pays “homage” to, Lord of the Rings. It tries but it never rises to that level, but that’s not saying that the movie is without entertainment value. I thought that Ed Speleers was good in the role of Eragon, but it’s the elder statesman (Irons, Weisz, and Carlyle) that hit the nail on the head and move the film closer to epic status.
Malkovich seems more of an effort of stunt casting and only really has a cameo. The film ends with a setup for the next film, but it’s unsure as to whether Eldest will make it to the big screen or not.
Eragon is presented in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Single disc widescreen or fullscreen versions are available separately. A two disc special edition is also available. The single disc versions replicate disc one of the two-disc.
Disc one contains the film with commentary by director Stefen Fangmeier. Disc two contains the other special features, but presents them in an annoying way (at least to this reviewer). They’ve hidden each of the items under a map of Alagaesia, some of which only contain one feature. Count me in as one who would’ve just preferred a straight list.
Carvahall contains the 51 minute “Inside the Inheritance trilogy: the making of Eragon.” It has interviews with author Christopher Paolini, director Stefen Fangmeier, screenwriter Peter Buchman, producer Wyck Godfrey, Jeremy Irons, Ed Speleers, Sienna Guillory, Garret Hedlund, Djimon Hounson, actor Gary Lewis, ILM visual effects supervisor Samir Hoon, ILM animation supervisor Glen Mcintosh, WETA visual effects supervisor George Murphy, and ILM digital compositing supervisor Dome Huebler. This section also contains the text of the first two chapters of Eldest, the next novel in the trilogy.
Darat contains the 19 minute “Inhabitants of Alagaesia” in which Fangmeier talks about various characters. You can either access each character or use the play all function. The Spine contains material that Fangmeier assembled for his pitch to Fox. The 4 minute “Arya’s Ambush” is the original animatic with optional commentary by Fangmeier and the 3 minute “Vision of Eragon: conceptual artwork gallery.”
Gil’Ead contains 12 minutes of deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary by Fangmeier. Teirm contains three items, a textual pronunciation guide, original storyboards, and the lost storyboards (for sequences not included in the final film). The Hadarac Desert contains a 2 minute “Saphira’s Animation Guide” that is narrated by Fangmeier. Uru’Baen contains a 4 minute interview with Christopher Paolini in which he talks about Eldest. Beor Mountains contains the teaser trailer, theatrical trailer, the 3 minute “Become the Dragon Rider – Creating the video game,” and trailers for other Fox films on DVD.
Farthen Dur contains the 44 minute “Secrets of Alagaesia” in which visual effects supervisors Michael Mcalister and John Van Vliet narrate scenes in various stages of completion.
Eragon doesn’t rise to the level of the films that it pays homage to, but I did find myself entertained and did enjoy the movie. The dragon effects are very good and the older actors add the right amount of gravitas to the proceedings, although Ed Speleers does a good job in the title role.
Fans of the film will want to spring for the two disc (even though the menu setup on the second disc annoyed me), but the one disc will work for casual fans of the film. I’d give the film 3 stars, but the extras on the second disc push it up to 4.
Eragon (Two-Disc Special Edition) is now available at Amazon. It is available for pre-order at AmazonUK for an April 16th release. Visit the DVD database for more information.