I am so, so surprised that a group of adults with millions of dollars, and presumably some movie sense, took that prepubescent Gary Stu novel and made it worse. Bring me Peter Buchman's head on a platter, and his pen... so that I may burn it.
My first complaint about the film came right from the start. The font chosen for the titles. Ew. Lame. What the fuck was that?
I disliked the book. I maintain it shouldn't have been published as it was. Perhaps after years of editing and revising, but just because your parents happen to own a publishing company doesn't mean you're an accomplished, published author. Christopher Paolini is not a prodigy. I like the story, and the attention to detail between the character's relationships... however immature they
Still, the text is the work of a novice and there were several places where it really failed. This movie needed to pick up that slack, and strong choices in the places where the text lacked real form in order to succeed. It didn't. For example, with the setting... I had a real difficult time getting a sense of place, of time. Evidently, so did the film makers because although Eragon and his family lived in what basically amounted to a stick hut fit for one of the three little pigs, Eragon was sporting some sassy, tight, top-stiched leather pants with a fetching lace-up crotch and what looked oddly similar to a modern dress shirt. I swear Roran was wearing blue-jeans in Carvahall. I will bet you money. He might as well have been rocking a hoodie and some Airwalks.
Overall, I enjoyed the costuming... if only because it was cheeky and the garments were well made. The elven clothes were cute, although you'd never have guessed Arya (Sienna Guillory) was an elf because a) they never tell you b) she has a distinct lack of pointy ears. The only hint of elvish stock shines through via an uncanny resemblance to Cate Blanchett. Brom's costume was almost a little too Aragorn-rip-off, but it's Jeremy Irons so, whatever. He can wear what he wants and/or needs to... just as long as he's there, I'm happy.
I really, honestly, expected more out of the cast but the screenplay was so atrocious I'm not sure it could have been salvaged. I maintain Edward Speelers was the worst possible choice for Eragon. I don't know why, but my Eragon is not a blonde, and he is not a squishy 15-year-old that might, and I mean might, excel at sports like badminton. Furthermore, I was constantly distracted by his oh-so-vapid gaze and his bizarre lip mannerisms that constantly left you wondering if he was going to say more or vomit. Speelers gives Eragon's character the depth of a kiddie pool, and I feel confident that had I not read the book - I wouldn't have even tried to give a half a crap about him.
Aside from the fact that Galbatorix isn't even directly in the first book, which makes him more enigmatic and imposing... the movie Galbatorix is not frightening. John Malkovich's performance was laughable. Again, I blame it mostly on the lines... but the acting just didn't deliver. I felt like I was being hit over the head with the "bad guy" brick. Still, Durza was scarier than Galbatorix... and even he, though sick and clearly deranged, wouldn't give a 5-year-old nightmares to remember. Also, his CGI mouth? What... we couldn't do make-up?
The majority of the movie isn't even worth discussing in a comparative fashion with the book. Every single character, every plot point, was butchered. This film was a hack-job, loosely based on the novel. I don't respect Christopher Paolini as a great author, but if I were him I'd be pissed. The story-line is off from the very beginning, all his characters lack depth and the personalities he gave them, and no relationship is even vaguely similar to what is in the book. All interactions seem random. Roran is not in love, there is no girl, there is no job for him. He just leaves. Brom is not a wise-old storyteller that everyone in the town gathers around, instead he's a crotchety upstart with a penchant for bashing the king. Murtagh shows up out of nowhere and happily agrees to take Eragon to the Varden. Angela is just some crazy kook we meet once, she reads Eragon his fortune, and then is never seen again. What's the point? Where's the werecat? Were's Brom's friend in the first city Eragon ever really sees? Why is Arya conscious? Why is Rachel Weisz's voice so ... monotone, cheezy, drab, and entirely unconvincing? I'll tell you why: truly horrible screenwriting. I still cannot believe an adult did this to a linear plot and clear characters. This might as well have been written by a chimp with a hack saw and a glue stick.
They didn't even pay attention to the books in terms of the "baddies" either. The Urgals, fyi, not supposed to be human. The Razac, though creepy with the Batman Begins-esque scare-crow mask face, full-on Ork garb, and single Wolverine-style blades of doom, are nothing like the disgusting, sadistic, and sly bird creatures they're supposed to be. The good guys were seriously neglected too. There were no dwarves, no elves, no species of any kind other than human. This was not Paolini's world, and these were not the peoples he described.
As a composition, it moved too quickly to attach to any character. Saphira grew up in about 4 seconds. She was adorable as she hatched... and then she became boring. Beautiful, but boring. If they would have cut out some of the sweeping "galloping over the countryside" shots they might have been able to actually have some character interaction. But no, no... there is no time for that, and as a result the audience member spends the entire duration of the movie wondering "so what, and who cares?"
The plot can be summed up as follows: Farm boy finds egg, egg hatches, teh ev0l king gets angreh, farm boy runs away, random helper-dude dies, another (much more attractive) helper-dude comes along, they keep running, there is a battle, farm boy becomes hero, and finally - teh ev0l king SMASH!-es teh ev0l map, and oh lookie! Teh big angreh ev0l dragon! This must mean there's more coming!
Yeah. Whatever. This does nothing to progress the fantasy genre. The movie was a direct rip-off of Lord of the Rings, and a chop-shop catastrophe birthed from a spectacularly mediocre novel.
And that is all I have to say... except to mention once more that Murtagh was hot because it bears repeating. So shines a good choice in a dark sea of mistakes.
ETA: By the way, I forgot to mention one gross inconsistency. In a shot, they give you a glance at the dragon armor the "artisans worked all night to create this armor" ... and then it's not even remotely the same thing when it's actually on Saphira. Just... ugh.