With the conclusion of 'The Lord of the Rings' and another year to wait for the second part of 'Narnia', cinema goers need a filling of fantasy to get them through the Christmas period. But where former films have soared, 'Eragon' suffers, mainly from the lack of thrills and a director unsure of what audience he is appealing to.

When young farm boy Eragon (Speleers) comes across the last remaining dragon egg, it begins his journey from youth to manhood. Unsure why he has been chosen, he becomes the target of Durza (Carlyle) and King Galbatorix (Malkovich), who have slain the last of the dragon riders in order to take control of the land. Along the way Eragon must fight to save the young maiden Arya (Guillory), with the help of former dragon rider Brom (Irons). 

All the boxes are checked for an epic battle of good vs evil but it fails to transpire as 'Eragon's first-time director shows his inexperience of dealing with big budget fantasy. Leading man Speleers strains in his first feature and shows no emotional side to his character, while veteran actors like Carlyle and Malkovich are wasted with poor dialogue and hidden under a cloud of special effects. The only warmth comes from Oscar winner Rachel Weisz, who adds the voice of the newborn dragon Saphira, but sounds bored. The CGI sequences are well below what we have come to expect from our Christmas blockbusters and the only similarity with '...Rings' are the fantastic locations where the film was shot.

'Eragon' may strike a chord with young children who will no doubt fall for the newly hatched dragon or the magical flying scenes but there is nothing here to keep an adult audience interested - or make them return for the two planned sequels. This is a dragon movie that lacks fire. 

Seán Kavanagh