Here's a list of things I never again need to see in a movie:
  • A wizened old mentor teaching a young pupil to let something "flow" through him.
  • A scene in which someone rides the back of a dragon while whooping and cheering.
  • A young hero rushing off to save his friends despite being warned that such actions spell d-o-o-m.
  • An explanation from a henchman to a villain detailing why he came back empty-handed.

...basically, all 90-some minutes of Eragon represent a list of things I need never see again in a movie. Why? Because I've already seen them 1,332 times and there's very little chance that such redundant and tiresome cliches will ever be sufficiently polished to make them feel fresh again. Again, Eragon is 99 minutes of this paint-by-numbers, oft-regurgitated genre blather.

The plot is Lord of the Rings meets Stars Wars (with just a splash of Harry Potter), minus all the things that made those stories/movies so exciting, so memorable and so irresistably ripoff-able: We got a hunky young blonde kid who somehow gets involved in an ancient war between Dragon Riders and John Malkovich. Dragons, wizards and vaguely elven women are somehow involved, but by the time Eragon reaches the 30-minute mark, your brain will be back-tracking to the mid-'80s, which is when flicks like Dragonslayer, Krull and Willow were beating this particular sub-genre to death. (I actually like all three of those movies, but these sub-genres do work in cycles, don't they?)

So as our reward for adoring Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy so much, we are now to be subjected to, what, seven straight years of lame-ass Swords & Sorcery effluvium? Yikes. The problems with Eragon are myriad, omnipresent and obvious, but they absolutely start on the screenplay front. Based on a novel by child author Christopher Paolini, Eragon is a shameless mish-mash of every Hero Myth ever conceived. You'll probably spot eight or nine different pieces of uncredited source material as the garish smear of Eragon washes over you -- and keep in mind that these comments come from a guy who really loves the Dungeons & Dragons-style material.

The acting is vacant at best, flordily campy at worst. (As the sneering King Galbatorix, John Malkovich seems to think he's in a comedy, while newfound woodblock Edward Speleers makes one yearn for the acting prowess of a young Mark Hamill.) The plodding parade of plot points wanders briefly through each scene, although there's no sort of drive to the movie at all. It's sort of like when you finish a massive role-playing game and then you're given the option of watching all the "cut scenes" as a bonus prize. It's not that Eragon feels like huge chunks were pulled from its now-skimpy frame -- but that the "in-between" scenes that may have given the film some color, urgency or freshness ... were simply never written in the first place.

Silver linings? Well, the dragon effects are pretty nifty, but so is the 3-D screensaver I use on my laptop. Aside from the spectacle of watching Malkovich, Jeremy Irons, Robert Carlyle and Djimon Hounsou dribble dialogue that simply HAD to seem funny at the time, there's very little in Eragon that will convince your eyelids to remain upright. The flick is a stunningly confused mess, steeped in tedium and literary plagiarism, and brought to cinematic life with a "New Franchise!" mentality that clearly got in the way of making a simple good movie. A bald-faced lack of originality I could forgive, but not when it's delivered in such a slipshod, silly and malformed package.