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Eragon: Special Edition

Coming up with a title is one is often one of the hardest parts of storytelling. The title will hopefully give the prospective reader or viewer a sense of what they're about to experience — and with 2006's Eragon, the viewer is given a tremendous sense of what they're in for. For starters, the story is about a dragon, and the main character is named Eragon. Which doesn't take a genius to see that very little letter-play was done with the word "dragon" to get the main character's name. It may have started as a typo, or as a rip-off of the Lord of the Rings character Aragorn. Both are plausible — Eragon is based on a novel by Christopher Paolini, who began writing it when he was a scant 15 years old. And, if the movie adaptation is accurate, all he did was transpose Star Wars into a LOTR setting. Eragon (Ed Speleers) is an orphan who lives with his uncle, and he has big dreams of fighting the evil forces headed up by Galbatorix (John Malkovich) and his evil wizard Durza (Robert Carlyle). The film begins with Durza chasing princess-y Arya (Sienna Guillroy), who teleports the dragon's egg she was smuggling to Eragon. As fast as you can say "these aren't the droids you're looking for, move along," Eragon meets the wizened old crank Brom (Jeremy Irons), and the bad guys find out that Eragon's got the egg — and that means Eragon's got a dead uncle on his hands (in this case, it's Brom who torches the body, though). The egg hatches and quickly the dragon Saphira becomes full-sized and voiced telepathically by Rachel Weisz. Durza uses Arya as bait to attract Eragon, and on the way to rescue the princess Eragon meets Murtagh (Garrett Hedlund), who's the Teen-Beat version of Han Solo. Ur-Vader Durza kills Brom, Eragon rescues the princess, they meet up with a rebel alliance (headed up by Djimon Hinsou), and then Durza and Eragon have a flying battle against each other. Though Murtagh does not come in to save the day and there's no medal ceremony, the gist is got. Eragon was directed by Stefen Fangmeier, a visual-effects supervisor given a shot at the big time. Alas, though he may have known how to keep the budget low, he's horrible with actors. Irons, Malkovich, and Carlyle are some of our better on-screen thespians, and that Fangmeier can't get anything other than perfunctory out of them is telling. Speleers is surely doomed to be a one-note wonder, even though the film is intended to be the opening salvo in a trilogy — a threat that has abated with a lackluster box-office. Such is the best possible ending to this story.

Fox has put out three DVD releases of Eragon: anamorphic (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan single-disc versions, and a widescreen two-disc Special Edition. Disc One (which also is the single-disc release) offers the film in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 audio, along with a commentary by director Stefen Fangmeier and bonus trailers. Meanwhile, Disc Two offers an abundance of supplements, including featurettes "Inside the Inheritance Trilogy: The Magic of Eragon" (52 min.), "The Inhabitants of Alegaesia" (19 min.), an animatic sequence with optional commentary (5 min.), seven extended and deleted scenes with optional commentary (12 min.), a Saphira animation guide (2 min.), an interview with Christopher Paolini (5 min.), a look at the visual effects (44 min.), two theatrical trailers, additional bonus trailers, storyboards, a pronunciation guide, and excerpts from Paolini's Eldest. Dual-DVD slimline keep-case with paperboard slipcover.

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