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Sunday, December 17, 2006

My Apologetic Nature & America's Continued Destruction of Everything That is Good About Literature

First things first, I must deeply apologize to anyone that reads my novel and is expecting a new chapter this week. This week and the one following it is, for anyone in college, the ultimate hell--Finals Week. Now, I know that is an excuse for me to not be prepared, and for that I must apologize as well. This weekend has turned out to be rather hectic. I had finals last week, and as such had to do my fair share of studying, and I have one more final this Monday, which I have been preparing for as well. On top of that was my companies' Christmas party last night, my selfish desire to see Eragon on opening weekend, and of course my need to make sure my brother does not chop of his head in an attempt to prevent himself from going insane. This does not go without saying that I have at least written much of the chapter, but it is no more fair to my readers for me to quickly finish it, edit it, and of course post it. That would imply a lack of love for the craft and my inability to give my readers the best.
So, for this I am sorry.

However, I am going to do something to pay for this. The following week I will post this chapter, and the week right after that I will post the next! This way my schedule is not off, and you the reader are given a Christmas surprise! I also have many intentions over this holiday break, and in the following semester which will be rather light for me, some of which may involve a beginning map of the Farthland, since now James would have some knowledge of it and that visual might help many understand where he is in the world.Alright, now that I have that out of the way, I have to do a review of Eragon. Here goes.

If you haven't read the book you'll probably recognize this film as fitting in with such terrible Hollywood blunders as Dungeons & Dragons. It's campy at best, poorly paced, and poorly done altogether. If you have read the book, you'll see this as the biggest book-to-movie bastardization in the history of book-to-movie interpretations. There's very little the directors, writers, and producers did right by the book in this pathetic piece of cinematic trash. This comes as an enormous blow for those of us who have been waiting since the day it was announced that Eragon was being optioned.
This is by far one of the weakest points to the film. There's tremendous inconsistency throughout. Some have British accents (in different forms), and some don't. This all from one town where you'd think many people would speak the same. First, the good.
Ed Speleers: Surprisingly he didn't do too terribly as the hero of this tale. He didn't come off forced, and did seem to settle into his role very well. His acting, I think for someone who has no prior film experience, is rather good. The problem with him was more in the dialogue and direction given him rather than his performance.
Jeremy Irons: If not for the fact that the writers had bastardized who his character was he has probably the strongest presence on screen for a secondary character. He came off very much like the Brom I expected--strong, raggedy, and torn by a horrible past.
Robert Carlyle: At first I was very unsure about his role (as Durza the Shade) in this. There were some terribly written lines for him, terrible direction, and most of his scenes with Galbatorix are pretty much put into the crap bin not because of him, but because of the other person in the room with him. However, by the end of the film his character really began to pull through and he became this incredibly creepy, evil character that I had hoped he would become.
Garret Hedlund: As Murtagh I have to say I was very much please, if not for the fact that his character conveniently shared no accent with half the cast, which is retarded. His dialogue was strong and he acted very well at the part from start to finish.

And, of course the horribly bad.
Sienna Guillory: Whoever it was that thought she would play well as Arya should probably consider working at Burger King instead. Her dialogue, while generally already very stiff considering she is an elf (something we'll discuss later), was so much like watching someone standing and reading from a queue card without attempting to put any passion into the words. She was so terribly wrong for her part and practically destroyed Speleers' presence on screen.
Djimon Hounsou: Now, I have to say this first. I like Hounsou. He is one of my favorite actors in the scene right now simply because of his accent and excellent presence on screen. He was fantastic in The Island and in Four Feathers. But, he was not good for this film. All his lines were stiff and it seems like they had just given them to him on set and he was repeating them. He was stiff and it looked like this was his first film. In this instance the casting director and the director himself should be shot in the face with some sort of large explosive object.
John Malcovich: Galbatorix...what more can you say about this? I had high hopes really for him, I really did. He's been in a lot of films I loved, but no, there's just no way this would work out the way I wanted. Thanks to his performance we now have an evil dictator who is barely a baby in armor.
Rachel Weisz: As the voice of the dragon...boy oh boy. She is far too soft for this role. A dragon is this mean, fierce and powerful creature that could tear you to shreds. Yes, as a female it should have a feminine voice, but something deeper and more homely would have fit much better than Weisz's very soft, motherly voice.

This was by far the best part of the whole film. When the dragon hatches it is so well done and you're instantly in love with the little adorable creature. Even full grown it's amazing. They did an excellent job with every aspect of the dragon.
Even other areas are well done. Magic is very flashy and gives you a sense of power and energy. In the final battle between Durza and Eragon, the visuals are fantastic. Every detail is amazing.
So kudos goes to the people responsible for this aspect of the film.

This is where the movie gets its crappy nature. First and foremost, the movie is nothing whatsoever like the book. The story is entirely different. And with a length of only 1 hr. 40 minutes how could you possibly expect them to tell the story at a good pace? The film runs so fast through all the important parts that you really don't have time to grasp the reality of the story or to really grow fond of any specific characters--one of which dies.
In the opening, the relationship between Brom and Eragon is supposed to begin when Eragon has Brom tell him about the land when it had dragonriders. They skip this and instead have Brom just magically discover that Eragon is the dragonrider and vice versa with Eragon discovering that Brom was a dragonrider once.
There's also the little part where the final battle at Farthendur is supposed to be underground in a giant cavern. Well, they decided they'd change this and have it all be outside at night...
Oh, and elves. Yes, well we all know what elves are supposed to look like right? Pointed ears, slender, all that goodness. Well, unless you read the book and knew that Arya was supposed to be an elf, you'd never know in this. There are no pointed ears here. No, not at all. In fact it's hard to really tell the difference between most of the races in this. Accents are even worse with no consistency in them at all. Some are American, others British. It's ridiculous.

Special effects people should stay there. Fangmeier is terrible at his job, plain and simple. There are loads of scenes where good direction could have made them work. Take a look at the LOTR movies. Those were changed so much from the book--but still remained true to the book otherwise I might add--and all the scenes were brilliantly done. Peter Jackson could have easily made this film halfway decent.

General Visuals--3/5
Many of the visuals of the landscape are pretty well done. You get a decent idea of what the world of Alagaseia (sp?) is like. Personally I think one could have chosen some better locations to shoot from. There's a few times where you see the characters walking on a very clearly defined path, yet in order for that path to get that way there would have to be quite a lot of traffic. This does make you wonder where all the people are, why are they even on a path that might be followed by others, etc.
There are a few moments where the visual crew decided to CG some landscape, which I thought was rather annoying at best. Often times you can tell when something is CGed, and when it is an element as fixed and important as a landscape, it's really a terrible idea to animate it. CG should be left to things that can't be done IRL.
I wasn't too disappointed in general on this aspect, but it could have been better.

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