of course, lord of the rings came out 50 years ago and ushered in the genre
Depends on what genre you're talking about. If you're generally referring to medievalesque fantasy, you'd be wrong. Tolkien has predecessors. Robert Howard, for instance, was publishing Conan stories before Lord of the Rings was written.
tolkien was trying to write his own heroic epic - and heroic epics (like beowulf) tend to have very straightforward plots and obvious good/evil differentiations.
I don't know about that. Beowulf, obviously one of Tolkien's inspirations, doesn't entirely portray Grendel as evil - but rather wronged and in need of some killin'. Likewise, Tolkien has some ambiguity in his stories. Megablox, lots of it. Elves killing other Elves to chase down the bad guy. 'Evil men' where one of the main characters wonders if they are truly evil. A misguided good guy turning evil, but not entirely evil, seeming to never truly understand that he's turned (Saruman). Orcs and Gondorians - sure, that's a given for moral straightforwardness (kind of). But taken as a whole, Middle-earth is far from being morally absolute.
In any event. . . I'm looking forward to Eragon. I've never read the books, myself -- but I always enjoy a good fantasy/medieval flick. And I don't even mind if it's cheesy. I mean, Conan the Barbarian was cheesy. BeastMaster was cheesy. Cheesy can be good. We'll see. At the very least, it should -look- pretty impressive, as it seems fantasy and historical movies are getting better budgets ever since LotR.
Forge not works of art but swords of death, for therein lies great art.
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