Not many people liked the Eragon (2006) movie. Let’s face it. Although there was and still is a huge fan base for the Inheritance Cycle series of books, the movie adaptation just fell flat, especially for the strongly devoted followers of the character. I was fortunate enough to be only halfway through the Eragon book at the time, so I actually enjoyed the movie fairly well. Was it the best thing I’d ever seen? No. But I still think, if you don’t compare it to the book (which is hard for many people to find possible to do), it stands on its own as a fun fantasy adventure ride.
When you think about it, there really are not a lot of young adult book to film adaptations that work out. Or at least, all of the films of the book series might get made, but not all of them are always extraordinary. Harry Potter (2001-2011), of course, did it brilliantly and lasted eight fun, magical, emotional, and mostly faithful to the books movies during a decade. Twilight, of course, received its film treatment, but even devout Twilight (2008-2012) fans can admit that the movies weren’t all that great. Divergent started out fairly strong, and now they are ending the series with a TV movie as their last film. Ouch. The Hunger Games (2012-2015) lasted its entire book series run to film, relying largely on the star power of Jennifer Lawrence to keep it going, though the last film did receive some mixed reviews. And, no, we aren’t counting The Lord of the Rings as young adult novels, even though young adults do sometimes read them.
Eragon sort of fell into this heap of book to film adaptations that just stopped after the first attempt, i.e. Inkheart (2008), Beautiful Creatures (2013), Ender’s Game (2013), The Spiderwick Chronicles (2008), Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004), The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013), The Golden Compass (2007), and the list sadly goes on and on. The Maze Runner series (2014, 2015) has been fairly successful, although it has taken a long time for the third film to appear on screen and won’t until 2018, and there might not be enough to interest to continue after a third film.
Eragon ended with a post film scene with Galbatorix (John Malkovich) angrily drawing his sword and unveiling his dragon, making it appear obvious that a sequel was planned for the rest of the series. It’s sad for planned franchises that just do not take off as well as others. Right when you think you’ll be in something for the long haul, the rug is pulled out from under you. But that’s show biz, I guess.
Some Things Eragon (2006) Did Well:
1) Casting Jeremy Irons as Brom
2) Casting Sienna Guillory as Arya
3) The Filming Locations
4) Patrick Doyle’s sweeping, cinematic musical score
Why We Need A Reboot:
So book-to-film adaptations are not always successful, agreed. But there are large fans of Eragon out there clamoring for a new film adaptation. The book series is such a strong one -- with great characters and worlds of mystifying wizards and dangerous dragons, reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings -- and deserves another shot at being told cinematically. After the first book, the series gets even stronger with its growing subject matter and now older and wiser characters. While many diehard Eragon fans protested and nitpicked against things as miniscule as character hair color not being the same as the book, I will focus on the larger setbacks.
Part of the issue with the 2006 film was that major changes were made to villainous creatures called the Ra’zac and left the film ending with a lot of the next book’s plot finished and already told. While something like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001) clocked in its runtime at 2 hours and 32 minutes, Eragon was only 1 hour and 44 minutes long. Does longer necessarily mean better? No. In fact, you can sit through some pretty long and painful films sometimes. But if a movie is longer, there is the opportunity to explore more character development, and, especially when you are dealing with a book adaptation, you want as much time as you can get since you can’t possibly squeeze everything from the pages onto the screen. We wanted more; the movie felt unfinished. You could do so much more with even another twenty minutes.
If the screenwriters keep these things in mind and don’t try to do something different than the actual story of the novel, the Eragon film series could really become successful. Unfortunately, there just aren’t that many, if any at all, reboots or remakes of young adult book-to-film adaptations, but we could always start somewhere, and Eragon and author Christopher Paolini’s work deserves one more chance.