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Eragon

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Can fantasy-adventure films be marketed to the masses? It seems the individuals interested in the legend/hero/dragon/magic genre, though intensely loyal, like to stay within their favored niche. Eragon, however, dares to compact its offering, perhaps hoping to score broader appeal. If Lord of the Rings is a classical tune, Eragon bears the same notes but is restructured into a pop ditty.

This one doesn't bother to explain every inch of backstory involved, but rather bounces a few quick terms and concepts out and plugs away (thus saving folks without the attention span needed to endure a LOTR epic from nodding off).

One complaint I have is the decision by a casting director to assemble a highly talented English cast­--among them Jeremy Irons, Rachael Weisz and Robert Carlyle--and then insert a big-name American actor for one major role--John Malkovich as evil King Galbatorix. I had the same complaint with 1996's Dragonheart, in which Dennis Quaid was a Yank among Brits.

Keep in mind when you reach for this title, it assumes you've got an imagination. If you can handle a quick jaunt into the realm of fantasy, you won't be disappointed. It succinctly covers a lot of ground; just don't expect it to convert the nonbelievers.