Director: Stefen Fangmeier
Screenplay : Peter Buchman
Based on the novel by Christopher Paolini
By the time you read this I expect that director Stefen Fangmeier and
screenwriter Peter Buchman will have committed seppuku and the author
Christopher Paolini may have stopped spinning in his grave - I’m assuming here
that Christopher Paolini died with shock on seeing the travesty that his novel
became on the big screen.
As far as I can tell (from
www.imdb.com) this is the first film
directed by Stefen Fangmeier (previously his background has been in special
effects) and that the only other screenplay by Peter Buchman that actually
made it onto film was Jurassic Park III. After sitting through Eragon the film
I sincerely hope they are not given a chance to create another such ediface of
I’ll start with some positive comments (as one is apparently supposed to) and
then detail what went wrong. The dragon special effects are generally very
good. Sorry, I should have said positive comment as I can’t think of
anything else I liked about the film apart from the end titles signalling the
end of cinematographic torture and giving the cue to leave the theatre.
Actually, I suppose we do have one think to thank the director and
screenwriter for - Eragon is a near perfect example which demonstrates the
wisdom of the old writers’ adage “show don’t tell.” Eragon the film takes
every opportunity to tell, not show, you what’s going on right from the
excruciating narration at the start of the film. The intro could have been
worse - they did manage to avoid having an animated book on screen during the
narration - but you can tell that serious thought went into making the
introduction as corny as possible.
When turning a novel into a film some details often have to be omitted but
it’s a bit of a shame when pretty much the whole plot gets removed and
replaced by an evil changling. Instead of chasing his uncle’s killers Eragon
runs away to find santuary with the Varden. When he meets Murtagh (in a way
that makes little sense) he is positively bursting to find the Varden which
makes even less sense since he knows they will imprison him or worse.
As well as replacing the plot with a collection of cliches, Pete Buchman is
guilty of cinematographic genocide - the elves and dwarves have vanished and
the Urguls have been replaced by humans in dirty clothes - and grevious harm
to Arya. He has managed to turn a warrior/soceress princess into a
stereotypical helpless damsel wailing to be rescued.
The dragon looks impressive enough but seems to have undergone a personality
exchange with a rabbit.
I could go on, but frankly it’s not worth it. I stayed to the end of the film
in the vain hope it would get better - it didn’t. If you enjoyed reading the
book don’t watch this film. If you didn’t enjoy the book don’t watch the film.
If you’ve never heard of the book don’t watch the film. Whatever you do, don’t
watch the film.