Friday, May 2, 2008


ABOUT: The Golden Compass is a fantasy film based upon Northern Lights (published as The Golden Compass in the U.S.), the first novel in Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials, and was released on December 5, 2007 by New Line Cinema. It stars Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Eva Green and Dakota Blue Richards. The project was announced in February 2002, following the success of recent adaptations of other fantasy epics, but troubles over the script and the selection of a director caused significant delays. At $180 million, it was one of New Line's most expensive projects ever, and its middling success in the US contributed to New Line's February 2008 restructuring.

The story opens with Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) an orphan girl who lives in an alternate world that is similar to earth, but where people's souls exist outside of their bodies in animal form. The people are ruled by a shadowy and oppressive council known as the Magisterium, which is doing it's best to keep everyone from getting information about what is called "Dust." Lyra's Uncle Asriel (Daniel Craig) has been researching Dust, and he has seen to it that Lyra is given safe shelter at Jordan College. But when the visiting Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman) arrives, she asks Lyra to accompany her on a trip to the North to meet the Panserbjorne, a race of armored bears. Before Lyra leaves, the Headmaster gives her a golden compass, a device which only she can read, and from which she can intuit the truth. Lyra leaves with Mrs. Coulter, but when she learns that her friends have been kidnapped by "Gobblers," she heads out to find them, and soon joins forces with the nomadic Gyptians, some witches, and an armored bear called Iorek Byrnison (voice by Ian McKellen). Lyra finds her friends, and so discovers the evil plans the Magisterium has cooked up for the world's children.

MY REVIEW: The Golden Compass is no LOTR, Harry Potter or Narnia. Not by a long shot. A friend of mine, who read the books, went to the theater to see it. She told me like 75% of the book wasn't even in the movie. I believed her on that but it wasn't going to stop me from checking out the movie. I never read Harry Potter but I still love the movies and I have never read Compass nor do I plan to. But you know how they say that the book is better than the movie, which in most cases is true, but for Compass it is most defintely not.

Even though I haven't read the books I am pretty sure that they cannot be half as bad as this movie. It starts out interestingly enough, with talking ferrets and jabs at the Christian faith. But it all goes downhill from there with cheesy special effects (that won an Oscar even though Transformers should have won), a story that doesn't make much since (but I'm thinking thats mostly because of the parts they left out from the book) and bad editing. I mean there are scenes that happen where nothing much happens and you are left sitting there going "what just happened? What were they talking about?"

I'm sure most who read the book will understand those scenes and it won't be a problem for them but what about the people who haven't read the book. The three fantasy films that I mentioned early in my review were made so that you didn't have to have prior knowledge of the universe to experince it in film form. With Compass it's like you have to have a time share in their world just to know whats going on and what their talking about.

I think much has to do also with director Chris Weitz who comes from a comedy background and I think has no business directing something of this scale. He needs to stick to movies like About a Boy and American Pie (good movies by the way) because if thats what your good at, why leave it.




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