Written by Old Bluffer 31st Dec 2006
Brom is a Wise Teacher archetype, an essential mainstay of any film involving a young oik who must be prepared for an adventure or two.
In this case, the adventure is basically that a treacherous Dragon Rider killed all the other Good Dragon Riders and now rules the land as an Evil Warlord. A Dragon Egg is somehow stolen though and ends up in the hands of Eragon, a teenage potato farming peasant with no discernible talent at anything. The egg promptly hatches into a cute, Disneyesque baby dragon and within about four minutes of screen time is the size of a brontosaurus with wings (seriously, it happens ludicrously fast).
Now, I've no problem with Brom cropping up to fill in a bit of plot and maybe help Eragon a little (in perhaps an Obi Wan Kenobi type fashion). However, I can't think of another film where someone is trained in so many skills, so well and in so little time as Eragon is.
In roleplaying terms, the narrative from the Game Master would run something like this:
"You meet Brom, a man of advancing years who looks as if he has a haunted past. Add 15 levels to your fighting skill - oh and you are also now a powerful magic user and a level 1 healer (but don't worry, you'll gain loads of healing levels at the end of this adventure)"
This is a movie though, so instead we see a 30 second sequence where Brom trounces the young oik in a simulated sword fight with sticks. From this point on Eragon is as deadly a blademaster as you will ever see (this is only implied, as budgetary constraints mean there are no decently choreographed fighting sequences in this film at all).
His dual classing into a wizard is achieved merely by overhearing Brom say the ancient word for "fire" when starting a campfire. Within scant moments of obtaining this information, the plucky teenager takes out an entire force of "urgals" (orcs) in an explosion the size of a small village.
Brom then finishes his purpose in the film by filling in some missing dragon lore, fashioning a leather harness for Saphira (the dragon) and insisting that dragon and rider must journey to the secret rebel stronghold to meet the "Varden" resistance fighters.
They make this journey in a matter of days, riding on horses through some thoroughly gorgeous and unpopulated scenery. All in all, a nice little excursion for them with relatively little peril.
[Of course, Eragon could have just flown straight to the Varden on his dragon, but for some reason this idea eludes them. In the book, it is explained by them not actually knowing where the Varden live, but unless I dozed off this wasn't made at all clear in the film]
And, as an added bonus, along the way it is revealed that Brom used to be a dragon rider too, but since his dragon died his life has been empty.
They are pretty much at the Varden hideout when the Evil Doers come up with a scheme to stop them.
Cut to Durza, who we know is a "shade" (an Evil Wizard who commands a force of
orcs urgals, much like Sarauman from Lord of the Rings). The reason we know this? A Brom explanatory monologue of course!
Now Durza has imprisoned Arya, who is the elf maiden who magically sent the dragon egg to Eragon at the start of the film. She has some kind of telepathic bond with him which isn't really explained, and Durza forces her to contact Eragon for help by poisoning her.
Eragon therefore has a pseudo-erotic dream about an elf babe and rather understandably forgets about his vague quest to meet the Varden and sets off to rescue her instead. Brom tries to stop him, saying that Durza's castle is in completely the opposite direction and actually further away than where they started, but Eragon finally realises that he has the fantasy realm equivalent of a fighter jet and just flies off, arriving at his destination in a few minutes.
He then easily infiltrates the castle (we must have missed Brom's tutorial on Thief Stealth and Disguise skills) and locates Arya's cell.
This is what Durza was waiting for of course, and he starts gloating as soon as he appears.
He easily withstands Eragon's magic and melee skills and then magically launches a spear at his foe for the killing blow.
Could Eragon be about to die?! No! From out of nowhere, Brom suddenly throws himself in front of the missile!
[Clearly time and space mean nothing in this film as Brom rides a horse and it has already been established that he is many days ride from where Eragon left him. Ah well, lets not worry too much about that...]
Suffice to say, Eragon and Saphira manage to fight their way clear of the fortress with both Arya and the dying Brom in tow (Durza gets an arrow through the head and disappears but Brom lasts just long enough to share a final nugget of information - shades need to be stabbed in the heart before they die).
Eragon then makes a token attempt to heal his dying mentor with magic, which I seem to remember from the book is an incredibly dangerous procedure for the caster, but in this film seemingly has no consequences for failure.
Once Brom expires, it is only left to Saphira to honour him in a manner befitting a former dragon rider. She bows her head in respect and then casts some kind of dragon spell to encase his body in crystal, so that it will never decay (much like Baldin in Hawk the Slayer).
Jeremy Irons doesn't disgrace himself in this role at all, and in fact provides one of the better performances amongst a largely lacklustre cast. However, he doesn't have much of a script or plot to work with, so Brom won't be a character people are likely to remember for long.
Next I will write up Durza's death, and explain in more detail why I found this to be an incredibly weak film.