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ERAGON

SYNOPSIS:
The adventures of a young farm boy Eragon (Edward Speleers) whose destiny is revealed with the help of a dragon (voice of Rachel Weisz). Eragon becomes the first new Dragon Rider, and learns of the oppressive, power-corrupted King Galbatorix (John Malkovich) whose cruel wizard servant Durza (Robert Carlyle) stands in the way of Eragon's quest to lead the scattered remains of the kingdom against the evil army. But Eragon has the experience and wisdom of Brom (Jermey Irons) to help him.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Eragon ... that's Dragon with an E (instead of a D), or Era Gone, without the E. Both are wordplays that perhaps give a clue to the workings of the 15 year old author's mind. Christopher Paolini's rich and engaging work makes for great escapist cinema, especially for his own (young adult) age group. The dead hand of cynicism that chokes the imaginations and aspirations of most grown ups needs sometimes to be prised open by dragons, magic and noble destinies.

Speaking with the voice of a young woman (Rachel Weisz), the Dragon Saphira represents all the forces of good in this bygone era, but her powers are so much greater when in tandem with the humanity of her rider, Eragon (Edward Speleers - who has enough Es to make up for any missing ones ...). And of course, as in the novel, Saphira doesn't speak, but communicates telepathically with Eragon, underlining the deep nature of the bond between Dragon and rider.

The plot is a variation on classic themes about an anticipated newcomer saving an oppressed people from the cruel tyranny of a power-mad king - in this case with the help of a flying, fire-breathing Dragon and the old warrior Brom (Jeremy Irons highly effective). The most feared enemy is the evil 'shade' Durza (Robert Carlyle) whose black powers can be deadly and whose only loyalty is to the corrupted King Galbatorix (John Malkovich).

Performances are all top notch and the production design is spectacular, while the effects are seamless; the Dragonian work is fluid and helps create the fantasy world into which audiences are drawn.

Review by Louise Keller:
Eragon is the stuff boys' fantasies are made of - a handsome young farm boy turned brave warrior, who can exchange thoughts with a winged, fire-breathing dragon. Beyond the spectacular settings and marvellous special effects from WETA and Industrial Light and Magic, Eragon is a terrific fantasy that the target market will embrace, largely due to the charismatic performance of newcomer Ed Speleers, who all boys will aspire to be, and for whom girls will harbour a crush. Just as Eragon was chosen by the silver blue dragon Saphira, for his heart, Speleers was no doubt selected for a similar reason. There is solid backing by Jeremy Irons, the heartthrob of another generation, plus the gravitas of John Malkovich as the evil King and Robert Carlyle as the wicked sorcerer with long red hair, long black talons and bad teeth.

The story of how Eragon came to be is a bit of a fairy tale in itself. The novel was written by teenager Christopher Paolini and originally self-published by his family. Since then, it has become a best-seller - the first of three novels which will also soon find their way to the screen. Visual effects supervisor Stefen Fangmeier makes an impressive directing debut, co-ordinating sword-play and involving us in the realms of dark castles under cloudy skies, monstrous cloaked beings and vast barren planes with peaks and valleys. But it is the relationships that are at the film's core. There is the fatherly bond between Eragon and Iron's mentor Brom, who believes in asking for forgiveness rather than permission. Being one part brave and three parts foolish is par for the course, and the promise of a relationship with the beautiful warrior Ayra (Sienna Guillory) who Eragon rescues, is something to look forward to. But it is the unyielding relationship between boy and dragon (voiced by Rachel Weisz) which holds the key to the story. From the moment the wobbly-legged baby dragon hatches from the pearly blue oval egg, Eragon is bewitched, and both boy and dragon acquire their magical strengths in parallel.

While Bastian and the magic dragon Falcor in The NeverEnding Story appealed to younger audiences, Eragon and Saphira provides a welcome alternative to Harry Potter. The humour comes from the telepathic communications between boy and dragon - theirs is a world shared only by the two of them. There are thrilling battles and chases, concluding with a climactic mid-air challenge. It's a family friendly adventure fantasy with a new hero, whose idealism and impetuousness is infectious.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

ERAGON (M)
(US, 2006)

CAST: Edward Speleers, Sienna Guillory, Garrett Hedlund, Djimon Hounsou, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Robert Carlyle,

PRODUCER: John Davis, Wyck Godfrey, Adam Goodman

DIRECTOR: Stefen Fangmeier

SCRIPT: Peter Buchman, Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, Jesse Wigutow (novel by Christopher Paolini)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Hugh Johnson

EDITOR: Roger Barton

MUSIC: Patrick Doyle

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Wolf Kroeger

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 14, 2006

UPCOMING EVENT
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre, Parramatta, Sydney.

Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.







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