Eragon (PG)

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The Independent Culture

Based on the bestselling children's book, Eragon is a shamelessly derivative and uninvolving family film, the best use of which would be as a quiz for fantasy aficionados who'd have a field day noting the "homages" paid by its young author Christopher Paolini.

The tale is set in an imaginary land, Alagaesia, governed by the evil king - and last of the once benign Dragon Riders - Galbatorix. That's until the eponymous country boy (Edward Speleers, below) finds an egg, which hatches the dragon Saphira, and a new Dragon Rider is born to galvanise the resistance.

Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings were the films that leapt to mind, when confronted by a barrage of recognizable character types and scenarios: the incognito former Rider, Brom (Jeremy Irons), who tutors the boy until dying in his arms; the beautiful princess Araya (Sienna Guillory), a leading light of the resistance; the king's sidekick, Durza (Robert Carlyle), a magician who controls hordes of grotesque killers; the salivating king himself (John Malkovich - surpassing even his own benchmark for ham), seemingly unaware that he could afford a cheerier home. The dragon is undeniably impressive, but it's mature technology in a very callow film.