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Whee. Three pages of comments. Well done, guys.

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 totally stole from was inspired by LoTR. I hadn't discovered Anne McCaffrey yet (she wasn't as big in England), so my other big plagarism influence was Narnia. My characters didn't just have an epic quest, they came from this Earth, through a magical portal. I'm sure I still have it in a box somewhere. It was pretty good, as I recall; I even got an A for it in English class. I bet it would make a great film, and I was even younger than Christopher Paolini when I wrote mine...

...Uh, I gotta go. I need to call my agent. 


( 29 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Nov. 7th, 2007 01:51 pm (UTC)

There seem to be a lot of movies that are like this these days. If you've ever seen Queen of the Damned (and don't bother...esp. if you LIKE the Vampire Chronicles)....it's nothing more than a 101 minute commercial for Virgin Records!
Nov. 7th, 2007 02:28 pm (UTC)
I have to say I liked Queen of the Damned. Stuart Thompson w/ no shirt and leather pants.. YUMMMY!!..

Oh, I'm sorry, there was a movie??
Nov. 7th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
"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. "

I don't know about that...I didn't like some of the messages but it was designed to capture the attention of *children* and did seem to accomplish that task. Brandon LOVED it. Seemed to do well by other kids too:

The film opened at number one in the United States on its first weekend of release (November 17-November 19) grossing $41.6M and beating Casino Royale for the top spot.[14] It remained number one for the Thanksgiving weekend, making $51.6 million over the five-day period. In total, the film was the top grosser for three weeks, a 2006 box office feat matched only by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. As of March 8, 2007, Happy Feet has grossed $194.9 million in the U.S. and $172.1 million overseas, making about $384 million dollars worldwide. The film has been released in about 35 international territories at the close of 2006.[15][16][17]

The production budget was $100 million.[18]

(Deleted comment)
Nov. 7th, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC)
Hahaha, we did the same thing here. The musical puns in Happy Feet, along with the other stuff, were bad enough that not even Robin Williams, multiply-voiced could save it. I don't think it was anti-reli - no, wait, on looking back, it pretty much was, yeah. Little Calvinists....

Eragon - wow, that was some bad badness. I was glad I didn't get off of WoW to pay proper attention, I was.
Nov. 7th, 2007 02:12 pm (UTC)
I recommend going to http://www.rifftrax.com/, and downloading the RiffTrax for Eragon - and watch it again.

*snerk* Much more entertaining that way, especially if you were ever a MST3K fan.
Nov. 7th, 2007 04:57 pm (UTC)
RiffTrax makes everything better. Even Roadhouse.
Nov. 7th, 2007 02:33 pm (UTC)
Ha! What a wonderful review!

I first saw Happy Feet while int he doctor's office with my son (he gets allergy shots and haas to wait for a half-hour after the shots to see if he reacts at all). The first time I saw it I about dies -- he freaked out. He was scared beyond belief. For the record, he's 5. Which was their target age evidently.

My novel at 11 was a severe ripoff of Battlestar Galactica with elements of Star Wars. My unfinished one was about girls from Earth traveling to another realm -- but because they had all died in freak accidents here (one was hit by lightning I think).
Nov. 7th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)
Paul and I agreed that we were way stoopider after watching Eragon then we were before, but my kids loved it. But I don't think that is saying much since they will happily watch almost anything with a dragon in it. I have never seen or let my kids see happy feet, cause I had heard that it had some violent animal abuse stuff in it, good to know that it does really suck.
Nov. 7th, 2007 02:41 pm (UTC)
I agree - I think it's really not a kid's movie. There's some scary stuff with a seal hunting Mumble, then there's an awful bit with one of the Adele penguins slowly choking to death on plastic rigs being thrown about by Orcas, parent betrayal, and it seriously says at one point "after three days, Mumble lost his voice. After three months, he almost lost his mind", and shows the penguin in a catatonic state. I was *not* feeling happy at all by the end of the movie - I was depressed.

And the music isn't that great. Nor is the music for Eragon; the last song sounds like a lame bardic SCA songwriting attempt - all cliches and poorly-written music.
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 7th, 2007 02:42 pm (UTC)
I know! He's so damned hot, too! (*ahem* I like older guys, even if they aren't interested in me, per se.)

Nov. 7th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)
You lost me at "a hooded polyester evening gown" I do wish you still had it, it certainly must have been epic, even by '70s standards.

So, I've got 2 more movies to avoid. Yay! Thank you for saving me from sporking my eyes out.
Nov. 7th, 2007 02:57 pm (UTC)
Heh. It was beyoooootifulllll. I tried to wear it as a costume when I had a bit part in a play once, but they wouldn't let me. Something about "scene-stealing"...

My mother had some great clothes; unfortunately, a lot of them were stolen (designer coats, etc.) by an evil au pair of ours. :(
Nov. 7th, 2007 03:32 pm (UTC)
The only thing worse than watching Eragon was reading it. I even read the second book, in hopes his writing had gotten better and more original. i was wrong. Apparently the success of the first book just made him lazy, and the second book is even worse. The move was far, far, far, better than the book. Isn't that scary?
Nov. 9th, 2007 03:57 am (UTC)

The movie is better than the book??

Here is my review, if you are interested.
Nov. 7th, 2007 04:00 pm (UTC)
Farce of the penguins
Ha! You have seen Happy Feet, now you much watch Farce of the Penguins. What happens when penguins go wrong? This movie. I shall endevor to bring it to all places I think you might be so that you don't waste money renting it. hmmm...maybe I shouldn't admit to having watched this, much less owning it. Ah well.
Nov. 7th, 2007 04:20 pm (UTC)
Re: Farce of the penguins
We own it as well though I have to blame Calli for the lack of judgment that brought us to acquiring it.
Nov. 7th, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)
I found Eragon a nice fluffy listen (I listened to it as an audiobook to help take the edge of a particularly dull stint at work. mindless tedium + fluffy audiobook = not going out the window... ;))

but then I didnt have very high expectations, as like you, I had written almost the same book at the same age ;)

now, I saw the movie on a plane, and I think I amused my seatmates with my giggles and exclaimations of "erm, huh?"

still, I'm glad I never paid money for it! (and for the record, I am one of the communist heratics who despises Tolkein. please dont hate me that of the two, I preferred the one that was actually written by a kid as opposed to the one that just sounds like it... at least the kid has the excuse of being a kid!!)
Nov. 7th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
I keel you.

Ok, your icon made me think of this bit from Jeff Dunham and Achmed the Dead Terrorist.

It's kinda long, totally un-PC, and completely hilarious.

Nov. 7th, 2007 04:41 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed Happy Feet - though the violence of the seal, and the orcas was a bit much - was soundly confused by the zoo/aquarium bit, and the trawler bit.

I enjoyed Happy Feet because well, I like penguins, in their oh so silly ways - and the movie produced that, the singing, the dancing - c'mon that was silly.

Eragon. OY! I read the first book, barely. Don't remember any of it, except the 'plot'. Oh, and there's a dragon in it. "Eldest"? fuggitaboutit...I didn't make it half way through the thing. Lost track of what was going on, it wasn't moving fast enough (like LOTR, Wheel of Time, Vampire Chronicles)..and gave up.

I will NOT go see a movie just because there's a dragon in it (though I love the things...) I'd actually like there to be a story, a reason to care. I can count on one hand the dragon movies I like, and still have fingers left over.

Thanks for the review, it was a fun read!
Nov. 7th, 2007 04:49 pm (UTC)
Costume critiqe.



Actually ROTF is usually too much to ask of any lj post, but man, you hit the spot.
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:12 pm (UTC)
Oh Thank you!! I saw Eragon at the theater (gods, I spent money for it, bleh) My rating on it's badness level was, "Not even Jeremy Irons, in Leather Pants™ could save it" I mean, really now, JIiLP should be able to save anything, shouldn't it?
And the sequins! Where in the name of all fashion gods, in a quasi-medievaloid-esque society did they get all the damned sequins.
(In the theater I got elbowed by my housemate when I saw the first one and went "Sequins? WTF!") And the costuming of the rebel army, I was cheering for the bad guys.

(I could have bought oies, and pailletes(sp? spangles, etc) but obviously dyed plastic sequins,... at that point the costumers must have brought in their second case of scotch and said "What the hell, it can't get any worse..." and went over the top)

Thank you again.
Nov. 7th, 2007 05:19 pm (UTC)
You do realize that "Eragon" is simply "Star Wars" with dragons?

Evil Overlord - check
Bad and powerful henchman - check
Young hero rescues princess - check
mentor dies - check
fancy flying about - check
stormtroopers - check
rebel alliance - check
promotion to Admiral - check

...and the prosecution rests.

Nov. 7th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
I had to lie to my son when we watched Happy Feet. I've told him that the big scary seal is just playing tag with Mumble, and that those big scary whales are playing.. um.. catch? Yeah, catch. Not trying to rend the main character and eat him for lunch, no! But he's 3, so I figure i can lie for a couple more years before he can understand it on his own.

As for Eragon, I couldn't finish the book, cause it was too predictable, so I decided to avoid the movie. I'm a bit worn out on the epic fantasy... I don't wanna make that sorta commitment to a series anymore. I must have gotten lazy.
Nov. 7th, 2007 06:55 pm (UTC)
I still haven't seen teh Happy Feetz, but I did succumb to Eragon on TV last week. I kept hoping it might get better, but I wuz wrong. I've also heard that the book is much more terrible, written by a RPG kid with a gamer plot/mindset. Eh, Jeremy Irons was fun to watch for a bit.
Nov. 8th, 2007 12:11 am (UTC)
"gamer plot/mindset". Yes, he sort of does come across that way a little, but I have read the book, and it was quite refreshing in an old fashioned, high fantasy sort of way. It's a fun, quick read. The book is so much better than the movie, it's almost a different story. The movie sucks in a super big way. I laughed through a lot of it.
Nov. 8th, 2007 12:08 am (UTC)
I have read Eragon and it's successor, Eldest, there is supposed to be a third volume as well. I saw the movie recently too. It's HORRIBLE in just about every respect: acting, costume, pacing, writing, etc.. The only good things were the dragon, sets, and locations. The characters, as portrayed in the book, are complex personalities. The pacing in the book is good, and there is a lot more detail. There are some key items that are left completely out of the film, or rewritten to the point of contradiction. The movie included a pan of the rebel's encampment that included women dressed in modified burkas, but the book is all about freedom from tyranny. The relationship between Bram and Aragon is much more complex; they have known each other for years in the book. I am sorry that the movie butchered the story so completely. Paolini deserved better.

I just saw The Seeker, and that wasn't true to the book either, with some really dumb additions.

Oh well, that's Hollywood!
Nov. 8th, 2007 02:42 am (UTC)
I've come to the point in my life where I can't watch things like Eragon. It has to have real life sorts of things in it and make sense, or be something sweet and clad in the voice of Sean Connery, such as Dragonheart.

Hell, I'll watch anything to see or hear Sean Connery.

After something like Eragon, I'd be likely to throw in something like Elizabeth I and turn off the sound so there are pretty costume pictures whenever I look up from my writing.

And I am jealous. My first ever completed project was a rip-off that landed somewhere between Dragnet and Miami Vice as a screenplay that put somewhere in my mind that I must become a TV producer some day. Did it, done it, through with it.

Oh, did I mention I'm writing a zombie movie?
(Deleted comment)
Nov. 8th, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
You know, there's an adult version of that movie -- but this is a family show...
Nov. 9th, 2007 03:59 am (UTC)
In case you are interested, Here is my review of Eragon the book.

I paid a dollar to put a hold on it from the local library rather than buying it. And I want my dollar back.
( 29 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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