Wednesday, December 13, 2006


The Horse Riders

I'm not sure why many have cited this to be yet another epic fantasy movie in the mould of Lord of the Rings, or even Harry Potter. Perhaps it's the release date, given that all make it to the silver screen toward the end of the year. However, given that the story is based on a novel written by a sixteen year old at the time, the shades of familiarity stem from something on a grander scale. And to me, it's Star Wars: A New Hope.

The similarities are obvious. Eragon (Edward Speleers), the farmboy, raised not by his parents, but by his relatives. He learns how to use mystical power bestowed upon him, and has a mentor, Brom (Jeremy Irons), teach him the ways too. The villains wield same capabilities, and they all wear black, seeking to destroy hope. Midway, there's a quest to save Princess Arya (Sienna Guillory), and it all culminates in a huge battle, except that the villains launch the initiative, like the Battle of Hoth rather than Yavin.

If that doesn't sound like A New Hope to you, then you'd probably come to enjoy Eragon, the first part of the Inheritance trilogy. However, if you make the connection, then I'd say you'll be pretty much bored as the movie has neither many moments to whip up your adrenaline, and is filled with a number of dialogue that will make you cringe. Perhaps the finale battle is the only saving grace of this movie, but even that has shades of LOTR's attack at Helm's Deep, only that it's on a much smaller scale, and lacking in detail.

The cast is quite spectacular, though I'm a bit surprised that Jeremy Irons is in the movie. Some of you would have known he starred in the grand daddy of fantasy realms - Dungeons and Dragons, but unfortunately, that movie bombed. I suppose he's back here to make amends, but unfortunately, he doesn't get much opportunity to do so. Robert Carlyle as chief villain in this installment is your typical over the top overconfident bad guy, and he's the one with the inappropriate funny lines, which seem to repeat themselves over and over again. John Malkovich is a complete waste as the evil King, and as villains, repeat themselves ad nauseam. Perhaps as a hint, the filmmakers have reigned him in to unleash more mayhem in the sequels.

Saphira the dragon is designed beautifully enough though, given the last celebrity voiced dragon we saw was in Dragonheart, provided by Sean Connery. But I suspect that the baby dragon will win a lot more hearts than a fully grown one. You can hear those gasps amongst the audience, that should some marketing folk start making the plush toy, it'll sell like hotcakes this Christmas.

Eragon clocks in at way under 2 hours, which is hardly material enough to consider it an epic. Given the shortened run time, there are various bits on the character's learning and development of abilities which seemed very rushed and summarized even, making it feel very choppy. However, as with all first films of the trilogy, it's the establishment of who's who and what's what, so hopefully, if a sequel pulls through, that it'll be way better than this one.

And yeah, it cracked me up upon hearing Saphira (voiced by Rachel Weisz) stating that she needed a rider. Ha!

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