Alright, it’s time for a rewind.
Let’s go back to the Winter of 2006 when Christopher Paolini’s bestselling fantasy series made its on-screen debut with ‘Eragon’.
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There was a lot of hype surrounding ‘Eragon.’ Audiences were still raving about The Lord of the Rings movies (I mean, aren’t we all still raving about LotR?) and Harry Potter was at its peak. There was a high demand for fantasy-based stories at the time. Enter Christopher Paolini with his multi-brick-sized Inheritance Cycle, the story of a young farm boy who discovers a dragon egg. What follows is an epic (and long) story filled with elves, dwarves, a mad king, and — of course — dragons.
Paolini’s books got a lot of flack back in the day for being Lord of the Rings/Star Wars rip-offs – and there’s probably a lot of merit there. But, hey, the books were fun, and they left young readers wishing they had dragons themselves.
And not only that but these books were mega hits. The first book was the third best-selling children’s book of 2003, right behind J.K. Rowling and Lemony freakin’ Snicket. The movie was shaping up to be big too. The Eragon movie cast had at least one big name: Jeremy Irons was attached to play Obi-Brom Kenobi.
Need I say more?
It goes without saying that movie execs and fans both expected the film to kick off a mega-franchise. But with those high expectations came high disappointment.
Eragon and the Goblet of Fire
Let’s start with the lesser of the cinema sins — the movie poster.
Look, there’s nothing inherently terrible about the poster. Is it a gorgeous work of art like the Interstellar poster — or even the Hunger Games posters?
And it doesn’t necessarily have to be. But the problem was that this movie came out a year after ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ hit the big screen, and the movie poster was just too similar.
A line of cast members looking in the direction of the camera (the camera angled to look upwards at the heroes) while set against a fantasy backdrop featuring a castle. It was just too on the nose too soon.
But — again — that’s the least of the film’s problems.
The real trouble begins with how much they changed the book. Yes — most book-to-film adaptations have to undergo changes. Pacing and character development are vastly different in a novel than in a movie. That means things will be cut, shortened, and altered.
But ‘Eragon’ took it to a whole new level.
From creepy to cockroach
Remember the Ra’zac?
They were Paolini’s brand of Nazgûl and they were creepy AF. Complete with long beaks poking out beneath their hoods, these baddies ate humans and hunted dragon riders throughout Alagaësia. But in the movie? Nah. Instead of the nightmarish and mysterious figures, we get two ninja mummies made up of cockroaches.
I am Urgal hear me rawr
And the Ra’zac weren’t the only Eragon baddies that the filmmakers butchered. Paolini’s book is filled with orc-ish creatures called Urgals. You don’t mess with these dudes. They’re gross looking monsters with horns sticking out the tops of their heads.
But in the movie? Bald guys with makeup.
And then there’s Galbatorix
King Galbatorix. This is the evil emperor of Paolini’s world. I always liked Paolini’s approach to Galbatorix. He doesn’t appear in the first book, you only ever hear about him. This adds a lot of mystery to his character and, in my opinion, really hypes up his reveal in the final book.
But once again, the filmmakers crap all over that.
No offense to John Malkovich, the actor who portrays Galbatorix. He has a long and respectable film career. But the inclusion of Galbatorix’s character in the movie always felt awkward. He basically sat around all day in his throne room waiting for his henchman to give him updates on the pursuit to stop the rebels and kill Eragon. It’s not like President Snow’s inclusion in ‘The Hunger Games’, where you see him tending to his roses — showing that he actually has a life.
At the very end of the movie, he’s so angry he lost the final battle that he throws a tantrum.
It’s just awkward.
I hardly scratched the surface
Those are just some of the worst bits that stick out to me. The movie has a lot of other problems. To name a few more: all around bad acting, little emotion, the dragons are birds. The ending is wtf?
If I have to praise anything in the film, it’s going to be the CGI. For 2006, the Saphira looks good — I’d even say she still holds up today.
Eragon Movie 2? What about a sequel?
At this point, an Eragon movie sequel is incredibly unlikely. The time for the studio to develop Eldest, the second book in the Inheritance Cycle, would have been in the immediate years after the first movie’s release.
Unfortunately, the ‘Eldest’ movie didn’t just have poor reviews going against it. The filmmaker behind ‘Eragon,’ Stefan Fangmeier, was apparently hesitant to commit to producing later films in the franchise because the books hadn’t been completed at the time.
When the ‘Eragon’ movie landed in theaters, only the first two Inheritance Cycle books had been released. In fact, the Inheritance Cycle wasn’t called the Inheritance Cycle back then, but the Inheritance Trilogy. Fangmeier felt moving forward with the franchise would be difficult without knowing how the books were supposed to end, and Paolini was reportedly not very helpful in filling in those gaps for the production.
“I asked Christopher … about that and he was not volunteering much of what was going to happen,” Fangmeier said in an interview with MovieWeb in 2007. “I think it’s very important to see where this ends up; how it’s resolved. I think until you kind of have an understanding of what the third piece of that puzzle is, it’s kind of hard to look at that second book, of course I read it, it’s very much a transitional story element. I think one would be best off to write the third film first, and then, being happy with that, going back to the second one and doing all the set-up work that will pay off in the third.”
It took more than a year following that interview for the third novel, Brisingr, to finally reach the hands of readers. And by then, Paolini had announced that the trilogy would actually be a quartet, which one could assume would complicate Fangmeier’s approach. The final book wasn’t released until 2011.
Considering Paolini’s long writing process and the poor reception the movie received, an Eragon movie sequel never really stood a chance.
Will they remake the Eragon movie?
Many fans are still hoping for an Eragon movie or television remake, but it’s hard to imagine a studio picking up the Inheritance Cycle right now. The final book in the series had a lukewarm reception, and a lot of the hype behind the books seems to have died down.
That still said, if it was ever going to happen, now would be the time. Shadowhunters got a second (albeit short-lived) chance at the screen. And a His Dark Materials remake is one of HBO’s top titles. This shows that studios are willing to give franchises a second go.
Disney might be dragon riders’ best hope at an Eragon movie remake. 21st Century Fox, which owned the movie rights to Eragon, is now owned by Disney. Disney loves a good franchise, and we know it’s actively perusing Fox’s massive backlog of properties to reboot. A Percy Jackson TV show is in the works at Disney, despite its universally hated movie adaptations.
So who knows? There may still be a shot at seeing Eragon and Saphira take flight again.