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Book to Film: Eragon

Published November 16, 2006 in Movie News
By Ryan Parsons | Image property of 20th Century Fox.
Eragon Eragon
Here is the first in a new series we plan to feature hopefully every other week. With Hollywood working to adapt or acquire every book that has ever come into print, giving an analysis on each possible adaptation seemed like the next best topic.

With "The Next Great Fantasy", Eragon, coming our way next month, one could only assume that the novel from young Christopher Paolini would serve as a fitting starting point.

Book to Film: Eragon

Eragon: The Story

Eragon tells the tale of a boy about to enter manhood but, as a chance of luck while on a hunting expedition, comes in contact with a mysterious blue stone. As chance would have it, this stone turns out to be a rare dragon egg that decides to hatch while under the boy's care. Though we do not know it yet, dragon's can hatch whenever they want, but they will only hatch when they are put in contact with a suitable rider.

Once Eragon raises the dragon to a size greater than himself, his village gets visited by two Ra'zac, creatures that come off as being similar to the Nazgûl from Lord of the Rings. At this point we are about 1/6th through the book. Upon the arrival of the Ra'zac, mayhem ensues, causing Eragon to retreat on his dragon, named Saphira, with a local storyteller, Brom, as they take a grand adventure across the countryside in order to reach a hidden location held by the rebellious Varden. Just about 4/6ths of the book is used on the adventures of Brom, Saphira and Eragon, as Eragon trains and learns how to become a powerful rider.

The final sixth of the novel deals with a great battle between the Varden and oncoming Urgals. In order to defeat the enemy, Eragon must face a powerful creature known as a Shade.

The book ends on a nice conclusion that leads in the second installment, Eldest, just as swift as Fellowship jumps into The Two Towers.

Eragon: The Market

One of the strengths of Eragon is a strong market to pitch the story too. Eragon is old enough to face violence without making an audience feel uncomfortable. This film should sport a rating similar to any of the Lord of the Rings films -- hard PG-13 -- and feature some of the fantastical violence that, if one was really paying attention, would easily encroach on R-rated.

The novel features tons of exciting action sequences, quests and hand to hand combat between a multitude of characters and creatures. Though there are a lot of new creatures in the Inheritance universe, fans should easily learn what they are and where they come from; the book, at least, spends a detailed amount of time on each and every race mentioned.

All of the lead characters are great and each one has their own character arc that ends during or continues on after the first book. Another great element to draw fans in is the fact that each character carries their own secrets, spilling very little new info about themselves at any single moment. If the film were to handle character development like the book, we could come to know these characters on a Star Wars level.

The market for this film is huge. Fantastical elements, violence and realistic dragons is enough to bring moviegoers to the theatres.

Eragon: The Budget

The fact that a CG dragon would have to exist in nearly every frame for a good two-thirds of the film must have scared the shit out of 20th Century Fox. With something so massive, every detail must be sharp and correct. Judging by the recent trailers, it would seem that Fox has nailed the fullsize Saphira better than her smaller, infant, self.

It was first hinted that Fox was trying to produce Eragon with a budget near $60 million. It quickly went up to $70 million and, last we heard, it has now gone north of $100 million. With a film that requires large landscapes, immense battles, magical special effects, and tons of CG work, a more comfortable budget for a story such as this would be somewhere near $140 million.

Though the number sounds like a lot, the risk would be worth its wait in gold since Eragon is only the first installment in the Inheritance Trilogy. Trilogy, as in two more films could enter production soon after. The only problem is that the third novel hasn't been released yet.

The last thing anybody wants to see in an epic of this proportion is special effects ecquivalent to television. One minor error in this category could spoil the entire film. Well, that and bad dialogue.

Eragon to Film

Though Eragon has received heat from critics for borrowing elements from franchises such as Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, it is nearly impossible to create a fantasy nowadays that doesn't at least seem somewhat familiar. The story features such a fantastical adventure that the franchise already has built up a cult following dying to see Eragon and Saphira soar across the bigscreen. It really was a no-brainer for Fox to acquire this franchise (was there even a battle for it?), as it is one of those few stories that can convert even the most skeptical moviegoer into a fan of fantasy. Considering that the fantasy genre has been doing excellent for film as of late, Fox has even less risk.

After getting past creating a dragon, everything else should have come easy for Fox. The studio has been dying for their next big fantastical franchise and Eragon could be it.

Now let's just hope they get it right. If they don't, we may never get a chance to see a trailer for Eldest.

Eragon comes to theatres on December 15th.

For the posters, production images, trailers, featurette, more movie info and a full synopsis, go to the Eragon Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Ryan Parsons
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox.

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