It was a dark time for the empire. The great, powerful and benevolent knights had taken heir eye off the ball and in one foul sweep their peaceful nation was subjugated by one of their own. Twenty years passed, until a farm boy found hope sent to him by a beautiful princess, captured by the empire. His family destroyed he sets out with his new mentor, a man with a hidden past, to rescue the princess and destroy the empire. Risking all to rescue her, his mentor dies saving his life. And then a battle for the very survival of the rebel forces…

No-one ever said Star Wars was original. But it did at least stuff its version of the age old “rise of the appointed hero” narrative with a few bits of colour. Namely its comic relief: C-3PO and R2-D2, and lets not forget Han Solo and Chewbacca. The sequels and particularly the prequels make us forget how well balanced the first Star Wars was. perhaps a bit too long, but it has a lot of story to fit in, because it has a lot of characters we are interested in.

Eragon is not Star Wars. Though paragraph one is an exact summary of its plot*. It is a fantasy epic , for which read dragons and swords (not that Star Wars is not a fantasy epic). And is based on a book which was written by a teenager who has probably seen Star Wars quite a few times. If you are going to crib, crib from he best. But don’t leave out the best characters. There is no comic relief in Eragon, and the character who might be replacing Han Solo is so insipid that he barely registers (or indeed barely given screen time). The one innovation perhaps is that the films version of The Force – the dragon: is given Rachel Weisz voice. Which means we flip-flop between scary roaring, and a calming, nicey-feely voice-over.

There is so much wrong with Eragon that one would not want to single out the weedy lead (no weedier than Mark Hamill). Jeremy Irons however seems to be drawn towards dragon films, and bad ones at that. At least he is not hamming it up so badly here, his Obi-Wan Kenobi is modelled on a not funny Peter Cook. Bobby Carlisle is made up evil, Djimon Hounsou speaks too deep and Joss Stone –
Joss Stone is in this film. Here is an artists impression of the time and trouble the film takes in inserting this character with four lines and sixth billing into the film. They don’t even milk a theme tune out of her, they get Avril Lavigne to do that!

This is apparently the first film in a trilogy, but I fear it will join The Chronicles Of Riddick and Stormbringer as films which end expecting a sequel which will never arrive. Put it like this, if any of these reviews from IMDB are accurate, there isn’t exactly a clamouring audience for it… (Apart from Weisz voice-over work, which I thought was nothing special, but this lot love). Its not a very good fantasy film, its not a very good dragon film, its not a very good film. And it is only the first third of a not very good film, Who would pay two more times to see the rest of a story they didn’t enjoy?

*The female lead may not be a princess. But the film treats her like one. Or at least like one who is Princess Leia.