December 15, 2006

AT LEAST GEORGE LUCAS HAD THE DECENY TO WAIT UNTIL THE THIRD FILM TO REALLY START STINKIN' OUT THE JOINT:

A Luke Skywalker for the 21st Century (BRUCE BENNETT, December 15, 2006, NY Sun)

As espoused by Campbell, George Lucas, George Miller, and screenwriting guru Christopher Vogler, heroes' journeys of this type have predetermined narrative thresholds that all must be crossed or addressed in the correct order. These dozen or so steps with names like the Call to Adventure, the Ordeal, and the Inmost Cave have easily recognizable analogs in story after story and film after film. The step that is usually the toughest hurdle for an audience to cross is the one known as the Refusal of the Call.

When Max in "The Road Warrior" tells the postapocalyptic desert pilgrims who would be led by him to go save themselves, it seems like a logical thing for a monosyllabic ex-cop who lives in a car to do. When Eragon, a redblooded kid with nothing to keep him down on the farm but some hay bales, tells both his own personal mind-reading, flame-breathing, flying dragon and a gorgeous she-warrior to take a hike, it just seems ridiculous.

Worse, he keeps right on doing it. As "Eragon" wears on, our hero continues to make dumb choices and have murkily motivated changes of heart. In so doing, he threatens the credibility of characters that have assembled to celebrate his worthiness, and the patience of the audience who has assembled to root for him in his struggles. Even Luke Skywalker had the good sense eventually to stop whining, kiss his sister, and get with the derring-do program.

Since it was published in 2003, "Eragon"has spent nearly 90 straight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. What has made it even more of a publishing phenomenon is that its first-time author, Mr. Paolini, was barely 17 when his book was published. With its PG-rated swordplay, unambitious character finishing, and closing-credits song by prefab punkette Avril Lavigne, it would seem that "Eragon" the movie was created to appeal to Mr. Paolini's less imaginative or industrious peers, or possibly their younger siblings.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 15, 2006 7:35 AM
Comments

My kid is entirely obsessed with Eragon. I started the 1st book, but it just seemed like Tolkien lite.

Posted by: ted welter at December 15, 2006 12:56 PM

The first book was OK, but the second was so ponderous that I probably won't crack the finale.

I will say I admired the kid's moxie in making some of the orc-figures 'allies'. Plus, the title ("Eldest") and the picture of the red dragon on the cover are a good feint.

Posted by: jim hamlen at December 15, 2006 3:40 PM
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