Inevitably, every swords, sorcerers and dragons will be accused of biting Lord of the Rings. The LOTR books and films are the gold standard for any fantasy epic, and striving toward similar excellence shouldn’t be faulted.
For all its similarities to LOTR—similarly-named hero, cool monsters, hobbity gayness—Eragon is more like the Star Wars films (which, in turn, are just samurai westerns in space). Based on the teen-targeted series by Christopher Paolini—only 15 when he wrote the book—Eragon tells the story of a farm boy (Edward Speleers, looking oh-so-Skywalker) whose destiny lies in a dragon’s egg. See, long ago a clan of knightly dragon-riders (see: Jedi) protected the land—until an evil emperor (John Malkovich, hammier than a McMuffin) wiped them out.
When the egg hatches, Eragon becomes linked to a telekinetic dragon (voiced by Rachel Weisz) and flies off to fulfill a heroic prophecy with his own personal Obi-Wan (Jeremy Irons). Despite a clunky script and clunkier acting, Eragon manages to excite throughout, packed with some amazing special effects (and some really bad ones) and big battles. It’s also the scariest and most violent PG-rated movie since PG-13 was invented. Despite its many shortcomings, Eragon surprisingly soars with pop-corny excitement.