*** WARNING - SOME SPOILERS *** I got to see Eragon last night for free in exchange for our sword fighting at the front of the cinema before the movie started. Let me say that I've never read the books and only knew a little bit about the plot before the movie started. I read that the author had little or no input into how the book was translated into a movie. Which will definitely disappoint book fans, because even I could tell that they skipped huge chunks. And I mean HUGE chunks of time, and the movie really suffered for it. A lot of people bag the story for how derivative is is, and I'll freely admit to watching it and regularly thinking "Star Wars, LOTR, David Eddings, Star Wars, LOTR, Star Wars, David Eddings, LOTR etc etc." He was 15, give him a break. At least he went through with it and got it published. Good on him. PLOT, STORY AND CHARACTERS The movie was only 90 minutes I think, which gave no time to develop the characters. Introduction, straight into action, then it's over. That's how it felt. Eragon goes from being a farm boy to a dragon riding, sword fighting, magic using warrior with almost zero training o r practise, a process that took almost a year in the book apparently. The kid who played Eragon did a decent job. He ain't no Jake Lloyd from Phantom Menace, don't worry Arya was hot but that's all, hardly anything to do but be tortured, fight a tiny bit, then leave. Big setup for the sequel though. Jeremy Irons as Brom was good, played it down rather than over the top. Nice short fight with one of the black monster thingies too where you can see the awesome warrior he once was. And his final scene I thought was a really nice one. The Varden leader had almost no lines, John Malkovich as Galbatorix almost was on the verge of hammy but he kept it restrained. Robert Carlyle as the evil Shade was the best I thought, not over the top "evil henchman", his lines were good, not hammy. But yeah, it was entertaining if you didn't think while watching it, but it all felt a bit empty on reflection. DIALOGUE AND CHARACTER INTERACTION Not as clunky as I'd feared. No real corny clunky dialogue at all which was a pleasant surprise. No lame speeches but also they missed some golden opportunities to flesh out their characters better. They also missed some great opportunities for sincere, not cheap, laughs to lighten the mood and make the characters more interesting. We cared for the Hobbits because they mad eus laugh, and when they were in danger we wanted them to escape. SPECIAL FX The dragon animation was outstanding. Saffira looks good (no idea how she compares to the book's description), she blends seamlessly with the backgrounds and the real life characters. WETA Digital and Industrial Light and Magic did her, so we should expect the best. WEAPONS, ARMOUR AND FIGHT SCENES Nicely fantasy, but not laughable. I also didn't see any laughable sword fighting moves, they were a good compromise between looking good for a movie and really trying to kill someone. The last big fight scene was distinctly underwhelming. They really had their hands tied by needing to keep the movie kid friendly. So those of us used to the intensity of the LOTR movies will be disappointed. They also did the REALLY annoying thing if filming the fight scenes too close up, too zoomed in, and with lots of too-fast camera angle changes, so you can't ever really track what's going on in the fights. Zoom out you idiots! Let's see the whole fight!!! And for the archery fans, there are some really nice bows in there! Especially Eragon's first rough home made hunting bow - it's a real "character" wooden bow, full of wiggles and knots. That impressed me Some flat longbows, but nothing modern. Some even had horn nocks on the bows, nice work. I'm not sure if they shot a whole bunch of extra scenes but the production company told them "You will keep this movie to X minutes and no more" so they had to butcher it, or if they only wrote and filmed what we saw. It sure didn't feel like it. I reckon there's a director's cut itching to be released. If so it'll be a much better movie. If not, then the director should be beaten with reeds for butchering a very popular tale into an abridged kiddies version. Kids should love it, accompanying adults at least will only have to wait 90 minutes for it to end, and it's entertaining enough. I won't be buying the DVD unless there's an extended edition, and I'm glad I saw it for free.