I considered writing more about yesterday's subject, but then I watched Happy Feet and Eragon back-to-back, and my brain fried. Completely, totally, fried. I thought I'd talk about that instead.
I hadn't seen either of them until last night, and now I know why:
Happy Feet is the tale of a penguin who can't sing who saves his penguiny people - even though they reject him and drive him away, oh noes - by dancing. It was also supposed to be this massively subversive indoctrination of children into the ideas that religion is evil, conformity is wrong, and the world is a scary place where humans are destroying the environment. Actually, it's an animated film that has no good plotting, a completely lame denounement, and is far too depressing for children. Oh, and it's got animals being tortured. The only clear message seems to be that humans are destroying the environment, and zoos are bad. Seriously, this is a depress-fest that will leave most kids somewhat shell-shocked, as the cute is far outweighed by the glaring inadequacy of a 109-minute advertisement on the evils of pollution and trawler-fishing techniques.
And the tap dancing? Sounded more like a Drum Corps performance than Riverdance. Damn, what a waste of time and happy feelings. Is to be having sad feelings! Is to be turning off HBO and watching The Blue Collar Comedy Tour on Comedy Central instead!
After watching Happy Feet, I had somewhat lost my will to live, so I agreed to watch Eragon with Bob (who came home about 3/4 through HF).
Happily, Eragon restored my will to live, if only so that I could make increasingly snarky comments throughout, resulting in what ended up being a bit of a giggle fest, despite the extremely lacklustre movie. Now, I know Eragon was written by a kid who shamelessly cribbed from LoTR and the Pern series, but I had hoped that the all-star cast could at least breathe a little campy life into the second-rate fantasy story. Boy, was I wrong.
To start with, the script is awful. Just awful. So bad, Bob and I were adding "duuuuurrrr!" after every statement of the obvious after ten minutes of watching. I love Jeremy Irons, but even he couldn't make much out of that script. And the plotting! Oh, bless their hearts! I know it's supposed to have a sequel, but the timing was so bad! Parts were rushed that should have been drawn out for suspense, the characters were introduced with no explanation whatsoever, the action just... happened. And man, everyone seemed dumber than a box of rocks.
Some of the characters were mildly amusing - the shade, Durza, played by Robert Carlysle (channeling Miranda from Sex and the City having a really bad day), was so scene-chewingly overacted that it was amazing they had any trees left in Hungary (film site) at the end of the movie. He chewed so much, he was spitting out splinters with every word, and I bet Craft Services didn't have to feed him for months. "Bring me another log!" he must have shouted, "I need to do ths scene again!". Which is pretty funny, considering the parts he's played before have usually been pretty understated. He was a bright spot in the entire morass of unmet expectations.
Of course, John Malkovich (who plays John Malkovich in every movie, but does it so well that everyone forgives him on the spot) nibbles on a few sequoias himself, but since there's no actual showdown with him in this movie (lame prequel!), he doesn't get the chance to do much more than bang on a few stage sets and emote in that massively Malkovichian way of his. The only person that plays himself in every movie with more gusto is Dennis Hopper.
Sadly, Jeremy Irons just growls a lot, and then - dies. Completely pointlessly. I assume he's brought back to life at some point in the books (never read 'em), but still, I'd be much more pissed at Eragon for getting me killed. Especially since if he'd followed the advice he was given, no-one would have died, and the completely pointless princess would be... oh, who cares.
Let's move on to the costumes - with a flamethrower. Now, at the beginning, everyone's in a generic sort of peasant fantasy garb I always think of as "Dirt Lite". So generic, they can work as costumes for Robin Hood: Prince of Tides or Lord of The Rings: The Three Plot Holes (and probably have). The bad guys are done in a sort of "Leather Evil Mutant Biker Gang" look that was clearly borrowed from Waterworld, and the Miranda/Durza guy gets vaguely threatening spooooky swirly makeup and leather chaps.
But then, we meet the Varden, who apparently have dreams of becoming their very own Vegas act, judging by their costumes. Cirque de Liberace, here we come, and don't skimp on the Lifesaver-sized sequins! Holy crap, they must fight for truth, justice, and the eradication of all good taste on the planet. My mother had a hooded polyester evening gown in the 1970s in yellow and turquoise and white swirls, with turquoise and gold sequins edging the hood and the cuffs - she'd have fit right in with that crowd.
(Man, I wish I still had that dress. It was epic.)
And... there's a battle. Unfortunately, all the character development is so rushed, that I couldn't care one little bit about any of them. Heck, Bob and I were placing bets on whether the dragon would even be able to fly with all that armour (of great tackiness) on her. What with the dark magic monster looking like some kind of demented Fraggle with teeth, the deforestation-level overacting, and the complete lack of any real reason for fighting other than "King=Bad", I was rooting for the bad guys.
In fact, the most exciting moment in the movie was at the end, when you get to discuss whether there'll be another movie or not.
For the sake of my brains, I hope the answer is no. To sum up, watch this movie if you must, but only with extreme predjudice.
...You know, when I was 11, I wrote an epic novel about battles and quests, and
...Uh, I gotta go. I need to call my agent.