Eragon is a corny, fam­ily-safe grab at film­go­ers look­ing for the next Nar­nia, writes Don­ald Clarke

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - FILM -

ERAGON ★★ Di­rected by Ste­fen Fang­meier. Star­ring Ed­ward Speleers, Si­enna Guil­lory, Gar­rett Hed­lund, Dji­mon Houn­sou, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Robert Car­lyle, Gary Lewis, Joss Stone, voice of Rachel Weisz PG cert, gen re­lease, 104 min

THE feared Baron Mur­do­chos, supreme sov­er­eign of the Fox Em­pire, peered an­grily through the cragged bat­tle­ments that crowned his loom­ing, mono­lithic palace. For nigh on five twelve­months, ri­val hordes had made it their busi­ness to spread ter­ror about Cine­plexia dur­ing the an­cient sea­son of Yule. In the early years of theMil­len­nium Time, Jack­son the Kiwi, a large crea­ture lushly cov­ered with thick rough hair, had sent his Ring Lords forth to lay waste to the un­happy land. How time passes. But one year ago, from the Magic King­dom, wherein rules the Mouse, the tyranny of Nar­nia spread about Cine­plexia. Mur­do­chos, his head adorned with a helm dec­o­rated with plover’s eggs the size of jew­els, clawed the air and screeched in jeal­ous fury.

All of which is to in­tro­duce Twen­ti­eth Cen­tury Fox’s faintly des­per­ate at­tempt to fash­ion their own se­ries of films fea­tur­ing jolly dwarves, wise elves and fe­ro­cious dragons. Ac­quain­tances who live in base­ments in­form me that Eragon is based on a best­selling nov- el by some youth from Mon­tana con­cern­ing the ef­forts of a farmer’s son to re­store the an­cient prac­tice of dragon-rid­ing and, thus trans­ported, end a reign of ter­ror by some ar­che­typal bald lu­natic.

As is the way with such af­fairs, ev­ery­body and ev­ery­thing has a name that would seem more ap­pro­pri­ate if at­tached to a pro­pri­etary brand of lax­a­tive or a Soviet-era nu­clear mis­sile. Say hello to Hroth­gar, Durza, Arya and – I’m not mak­ing this up – Gal­botrix. The di­a­logue is in mock-Saxon. The cos­tumes re­sem­ble those worn by the staff at folk parks. John Malkovich, the bad guy, sends pieces of scenery scur­ry­ing for cover lest they suf­fer gnaw­ing. And so on.

In short, Eragon is ex­actly as you would ex­pect it to be. Lift­ing its plot whole­sale from Star Wars – it­self an amal­gam of in­flu­ences – Ste­fen Fang­meier’s lum­ber­ing film ap­pears ter­ri­fied to do any­thing that may sur­prise or alarm. It is, thus, a some­what com­fort­ing beast. It’s the kind of bad film you can slide into with­out any fear that you will rub against sharp edges.

That said, though pop­u­lar enough, the Eragon books do not have the cross­over ap­peal of Tolkien or CS Lewis. Baron Mur­dochus may not con­quer the king­dom just yet.

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