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Eragon (*)
Directed by Stefen Fangmeier
Written by Peter Buchman from a novel by Christopher Paolini
Principal Cast
Edward Speleers -- Eragon
Jeremy Irons -- Brom
Sienna Guillory -- Arya
Robert Carlyle -- Durza
John Malkovich -- King Galbatorix
Garrett Hedlund -- Murtagh
Alun Armstrong -- Uncle Garrow
Chris Egan -- Roran
Gary Lewis -- King Hrothgar
Djimon Hounsou -- Ajihad
Rachel Weisz -- Saphira (voice)
Richard Rifkin -- Horst
Steve Speirs -- Sloan
Joss Stone -- Angela
Tamsin Egerton -- Katrina
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Eragon is a dragon movie that does not have an original bone in its body.

When I was a kid, I had books with the outlines of pictures on the pages. In the back of the book were brightly colored stickers. To "color" the pictures, you just matched the sticker to the outline. It saved you the trouble of actually coloring the picture yourself.

The writers of Eragon were saved the trouble of actually doing any writing, since the entire plot is borrowed from one source or another, and pasted into the template of the farm boy who saves the princess and fights the evil king, a plot that was old when the brothers Grimm were young.

Here you paste the scene from Star Wars where Luke looks pensively out across the landscape, here the scene from The NeverEnding Story where Bastian rides the dragon and the camera looks over his right shoulder.

The actors have only two expressions: bland and pained. When they get the pained expression, I suspect they are reacting to the cliché they have to utter next. "I expected you to be, well, more…" Wait a minute. Didn't Leah say that to Luke when he rescued her from the Deathstar? Only, instead of "more" she said "taller", presumably because she had a larger vocabulary than Arya.

Especially egregious is the villain who (yes, again) murders his own henchman. Since the movie has so little worth talking about, let us examine this ever popular habit of villains in bad movies. Soldiers, even orc soldiers, serve in armies for one of two reasons. Caesar's soldiers followed him because they respected him. He ate the same rations they did, took the same risks, never needlessly sent them into harm's way. Then you have your mercenary soldiers, who will follow anybody for pay. Now, it is pretty clear that the villain is not being followed because his troops respect him. His plans for securing his own castle make George W. Bush look like a military genius. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume they are getting paid. But history is full of examples of what happens to generals who mistreat their own mercenaries. They get their throats cut, is what happens.

And then we have the question of the best tactics when you use a large animal in battle. It doesn't matter if the large animal is a dragon or an elephant, the big tactical problem is the same. How you arrange for the large animal to stomp on the opposing forces instead of on your own forces. When Pyrrhus fought the Romans, he won every battle, but lost so many soldiers in the process that his name has come down to us in the phrase "pyrrhic victory." One of his problems was that the Romans figured out how to spook his elephants, so they trampled his own troops. At least Pyrrhus learned from his mistakes. Hannibal named him the greatest general of the day. (He named himself number three.)

Now, consider the tactical problem of employing in battle not an elephant, but a fire-breathing dragon. The enemy is approaching your gates. Here are your choices. Do you a) wait until the enemy breaks into your camp and closes with your own troops before you attack with your dragon or b) attack with your dragon while the enemy is massed outside the gate?

If you chose a), then Eragon is the film for you.

Copyright © 2007 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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