Eragon (Edward Speleers) is a farmboy longing for adventure. His wish is granted when he finds an egg that upon hatching, has a dragon inside. The dragon, Saphira, tells him that he has been chosen as her dragon rider, infusing him with special powers. With the help of Brom (Jeremy Irons), Eragon learns of the incredible gift he has received and the legacy that it entails. Together they set forth to battle the evil King Galbatorix (John Malkovich), whom along with his wicked assistant Durza (Robert Carlyle), is determined to continue ruling his kingdom with the iron glove of hate.

Sorcery and dragons combine to make this an enchanting tale based on a series of best selling novels. Like any good medieval tale, the hero is initially an outsider to fantastic events of which he has always dreamed. When thrown into the fray, he discovers his new found abilities not as a tool for power, but as an instrument to loosen the grip of tyranny enveloping his homeland. Edward Speleers displays an innocent charm to his role, bringing the audience along with him as he forges ahead with his quest. His journey from boy to man is believably handled, with Speelers’ acting skills complimenting all facets of his character.

The technical craftsmanship shines through especially with the dragon battle scenes being awesome in their ferocity. As the dark army of Durza fights our heroes, the special effects go into overdrive, but never once overshadow the heart of the story that is the key to a successful fantasy film. The well-paced development of each character and the interesting back-story help create their world, allowing the audience to fully immerse themselves into the story. The excellent CGI spectacle of the dragon Saphira allows it to become just as a fascinating character as the human counterparts. The shots of it sweeping through the air highlights the majesty of the beast and also the danger that lurks beneath for the enemies it battles.

The actors all do a creditable job of grounding the story amongst the wizardry. Jeremy Irons makes for a good mentor type, infusing world-weariness to his character hiding a tragic past. His role becomes pivotal to allowing Eragon to become the dragon rider that he should be, showing genuine pathos which is usually missed in fantasy films. Robert Carlyle makes for a mean master of the black arts, perfectly capturing the grotesque evil of Durza who shows no mercy to his prey. The only missed opportunity in the film is of John Malkovich’s character, who seems to stay in the background for the duration, never oozing the true menace of his character.

Whilst there are some derivative aspects to the script, overall there are enough original elements that make this film unique. The plot threads that remain can only be anticipated of being painted further on the cinematic canvas. Eragon engages the audience in a magical spectacle that should satisfy the most hardened of fantasy buffs.

Rating out of 10: 7

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