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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Book VS. Movie: Eragon

Dear friends,

** Pay attention, this post is very long, has a lot of pictures and SPOILERS! but I have poured my heart and soul into it so I hope you guys will read it and tell me what you think! :) **
[first lines]
Brom: [narrating] There was a time when the fierce and beautiful land of Alagaësia was ruled by men astride mighty dragons. To protect and serve was their mission, and for thousands of years, the people prospered. But the Riders grew arrogant, and began to fight among themselves for power. Sensing their weakness, a young Rider named Galbatorix betrayed them, and in a single bloody battle, believed he had killed them all, Riders and dragons alike. Since then, our land has been ruled by Galbatorix. He crushed all rebellion, including the freedom fighters known as the Varden. Those that survived fled to the mountains. There, they hoped for a miracle that might even their odds against the king. Our story begins one night, as Arya, an ally of the Varden, rides for her life, carrying a stone stolen from the king himself...
Oh, alrighty there! Let me just say that this is how the movie starts, with Brom telling the story of Alagaësia. All good there, Jeremy Irons (who plays Brom like a charm) has a soothing voice that beckons you to sit down and listen to his stories, but what he says is not entirely by the book and if you read the book first - like I did - you might get upset. The Riders did not grew arrogant and they did not fight between themselves until Galbatorix came along and began to act high and mighty! He is the reason the Riders were killed and the dragons as well. And Arya - who is an elf - did not steal the stone stolen from the king. She was guarding it for many years. The stone was actually a dragon egg - one of the 3 in the books that still remained unhatched! - that was carried back and forward between the elves and the dwarfes - which, by the way, do not appear at all in the movie! but in the book they hold a great part of the story. But nevermind that! I shall tell you a bit more about the movie itself - thank God for Wikipedia and IMDB :) - and after that I will tell you what I think ;) Sit tight and enjoy!
Eragon is a 2006 fantasy-adventure film based on the novel of the same name by author Christopher Paolini. The cast includes Edward Speleers in the title role, Jeremy Irons, Garrett Hedlund, Sienna Guillory, Robert Carlyle, John Malkovich, Djimon Hounsou, Alun Armstrong, Joss Stone, and the voice of Rachel Weisz as Saphira the dragon. The film was directed by Stefen Fangmeier, a first-time director, who had previously worked as a visual effects director on Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The screenplay was written by Peter Buchman, who is best known for Jurassic Park III. Principal photography took place at the Mafilm Fót Studios in Hungary, starting on August 1, 2005. Visual effects and animation were by Weta Digital and Industrial Light & Magic.
Eragon was released worldwide between December 13 and December 15, 2006 by 20th Century Fox. It was the 10th worst reviewed film of 2006 on Rotten Tomatoes, and the 31st highest grossing film of 2006 in the US. A DVD and Blu-ray of the film was released March 20, 2007. It has first aired on Disney XD in the United States as a television broadcast on April 6, 2009.
Plans to create a film based on Christopher Paolini's best-selling novel were first announced in February 2004. 20th Century Fox purchased the rights to Eragon. Screenwriter Peter Buchman, whose credits included Jurassic Park III, wrote the screenplay. Buchman, a fan of fantasy and science fiction literature and films, says he was "blown away" by the author's precociousness, his mastery of plot lines and characters, and his ability to create several completely imaginary worlds.
Speleers was selected for the title role after a worldwide casting search. "Ed came in [to the casting session], and we just looked at each other and said, "That's Eragon, that's the guy from the book," said director Stefen Fangmeier: "I got a strong sense of Ed's sparkle, of his life. It's the kind of thing where you just know he's destined to become a movie star. Speleers won the role as he was trying to learn his lines for a school production of Hamlet. Others considered for the role included Alex Pettyfer but since production took place in central Europe and Pettyfer is afraid of flying, he declined the role. On July 15, 2005, in an official press release from 20th Century Fox, it was confirmed that Speleers had signed on to the project. Over the following months, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Chris Egan, and Djimon Hounsou were all confirmed as joining the Eragon cast. Paolini, author of the original novel, had expressed his wishes to be featured in a cameo role in the film — specifically, as a warrior who is beheaded in the battle of Farthen Dûr. However, he was unable because of his European book tour. Jeremy Irons, who welcomed the opportunity to reintroduce himself to younger audiences, took on the role although Dungeons & Dragons (a previous fantasy film he had acted in) had flopped, and he said that he thought that Eragon "had been better managed" than that film.
Eragon was one of the worst reviewed films of 2006, 16% of reviews by critics were positive with an average rating of 4.1/10 at Rotten Tomatoes. 47% of Rotten Tomatoes' audience rated it over three stars with an average rating of 3/5. The consensus reads "Written by a teenager (and it shows), Eragon presents nothing new to the "hero's journey" story archetype. In movie terms, this movie looks and sounds like Lord of the Rings and plays out like a bad Star Wars rip-off...the makers of Eragon should soon be expecting an annoyed phone call from George Lucas." The Seattle Times described the film as "technically accomplished, but fairly lifeless and at times a bit silly".The Hollywood Reporter said the world of Eragon was "without much texture or depth." The story was labeled "derivative" by The Washington Post, and "generic" by the Las Vegas Weekly. Newsday stressed this point further, asserting that only "nine-year-olds with no knowledge whatsoever of any of the six Star Wars movies would find the film original." The acting was called "lame" by the Washington Post, plus "stilted" and "lifeless" by the Orlando Weekly. The dialogue was also criticized, with MSNBC labelling it "silly"; the Las Vegas Weekly called it "wooden".
Positive reviews described the film as "fun" and "the stuff boys' fantasies are made of." The CGI work was called "imaginative" and Saphira was called a "magnificent creation." Christopher Paolini stated he enjoyed the film, particularly praising the performances of Jeremy Irons and Edward Speleers.
Eragon grossed approximately $75 million in the US and $173.9 million elsewhere, grossing $249 million worldwide. Director Stefen Fangmeier believes that Fox was "modestly happy with the worldwide box office." Eragon is the 13th highest grossing fantasy-live action film within the United States; 21st when adjusted for inflation. It is the third highest grossing film with a dragon at its focal point.
Eragon was in release for 17 weeks in the US, opening on December 15, 2006 and closing on April 8, 2007. It opened in 3020 theaters, earning $8.7 million on opening day and $23.2 million across opening weekend, ranked 2nd behind The Pursuit of Happyness. Eragon's second weekend US box office dropped by almost 70%, possibly due to the opening of Night at the Museum, another family film from 20th Century Fox, the 41st biggest second weekend drop since this statistic was kept. Eragon's $75 million total US gross was the 31st highest for 2006.
The film earned $150 million in its opening weekend across 76 overseas markets, making it the #1 film worldwide. This was attributed to the sheer scope of Eragon's global launch as the film ranked number 1 in fewer than half of the overseas territories it was released in. The foreign box office competition for the film's opening week was "soft;" had Eragon been released one year earlier, it would have been placed fourth. Eragon's UK opening was "a disappointment," in Australia it was "solid if unimpressive," but its most impressive market was France, where the film earned more than $21 million. The film's $249 million total worldwide gross was the 16th highest for 2006. Eragon grossed $86,995,160 on DVD from March 20, 2007 – May 13, 2007.
Now I don't know how you feel about books VS. movies and your point upon having books brought to life by movies or TV Series, but I can tell you I am a huge fan and each time I try to first read the book and then enjoy the movie. Well sometimes it is sad as the movie does not raise up to your expectations but it is a risk I like to take, as it is better to form your own image of the places and people than be fed directly via screen with the finished and final product - after that, when you will read the book you will see the characters from the movie, and most of the time they do not hold the same characteristics. I was glad I read Eragon before seing the movie, even though we had it on DVD for a very long time - my husband bought it while he was in the USA years ago, and I never got to see it even though I had it on my list... I must admit I rather agree with Christopher Paolini not giving the rights to screen movies of the other 3 books in the Inheritance Cycle! The movie does not even come close to the book and the only thing that saves it is the awesome Jeremy Irons and John Malkovich + the perfect voice of Rachel Weisz as Saphira.
There is a lot of action and explaining that should be done in the movie - scenes missing, weird conversation, scenes completely messed up... and I have this really serious feeling that the whole movie was somehow done in a rush. It came out in 2006, after the beautiful trilogy of Lord Of The Rings, when the fantasy section of movie was at its beginning and the CGI was growing strong. They thought they could win the job with a pretty decent sountrack, nice landscapes (filmed in Slovakia and Hungary) and a few brilliant actors but it soon became a flop due to the person who re-wrote the whole thing... Let's take for example the scene where Saphira switched/magically grows from a small baby dragon to a huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-waitforit-uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge dragon! In the book that was done during a few months, while Eragon took care of her and while they became more acquainted with eachother and with their growing power. Saphira learns to fly by instict, by herself, and since the very beginning - once she hatches - their minds connect and they start talking. Well in the movie I wanted to cry out loud... Eragon keeps throwing her up in order for her to fly and when she manages to take off a storm starts and through the thunders she grows instantly and when she comes down she frightenes Eragon with her new size... and just then they start talking - connecting through their mind... Bollocks! Not to mendtion that from the very beginning when she breaks the eggs, Eragon calles Saphira as "her" - in the book he founds later on that he is actually a she, he finds out when they try out names for her and Eragon keeps coming up with male names instead of female. God! and how much I loved that scene in the book... it was perfect and it showed so much of their characters and their beginning of the bonding....
And let us talk a bit about the races. In the movie I see only humans, urgals and an elf - Arya. I see no dwarfes and that truly makes me sad. The Varden are hosted by the dwarfes and the whole point of the book was that the egg - Saphira's egg - had been carried between elfes and dwarfes for a very long time, waiting for one of the races to have a Rider that would make the egg hatch. They did not want a human anymore as humans could not be trusted - due to Galbatorix - so they thought that an elf/dwarf Rider would help bring balance and take the king off the throne. HA! The dragon chooses the Rider so we have Eragon bonding with Saphira. But let us talk of Arya: she is supposed to be an elf - where are the pointy ears?! - and she is supposed to have black/dark hair - I think it is more than obvious that the lady in the movie has blonde-strawberry hair! And where are the dwarfes?! Where is the Varden and the explaining and the intrigue?! All is lost out there!
The movie was quite a disappointment except the CGI Saphira that was really wall done + her voice gave her character and actually made you think she is alive. Well done to Rachel Weisz!!! Also a grand round of applause to the awesome Jeremy Irons that makes the scenes with him shine bright and even though the action is not by the book the character of Brom - in the movie - seems alike to the one in the books. Even Paolini agrees he did a brilliant job with what resources he had :) A small and fleeting role was given to John Malkovich but let's be fair, he is amazing in any character that he plays - even when he plays himself in Being John Malkovich! :) The kid playing Eragon is not all that bad but he has very much to learn and he is not exactly the Eragon I knew from the book... On the other hand I need to mention Robert Carlyle playing Durza - he made me think of his latest role in Once Upon A Time (TV Series) as the characters are very much alike. I always loved his play ever since I saw him first in Full Monthy :) I recommend him highly! 

P.S. Overall if you read the book you will be very disappointed about the movie and you will have WTF reactions when you will see the obvious pushed relationship between Eragon and Arya!

Yours truly,
A LadyBug that loves movies with Dragons :)