Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Golden Compass Review

The Golden Compass is based on The Northern Lights which is the first book from Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy. My first introduction to it came last year when I received an e-mail forward warning of subtle messages and a hidden agenda for this movie. It said the author was an atheist and wanted to off sett the work that CS Lewis had done with his Narnia movies by creating an anti-religion movie. I was curious to learn for myself if these claims were warranted. Unfortunately I never got around to seeing it until now. Here's my review.

This fantasy story features a young orphan girl named Lyra who lives in a kingdom that is ruled by the Magisterium. As the governing theocracy they try to suppress knowledge of a parallel universe and a substance known as dust. Each character has an animal counterpart that is always with them (kind of like their spirit) which they refer to as their daemon. Lyra is given an alithometer or golden compass and sets out on a journey. I never could understand exactly what her quest entailed or where she was going from scene to scene.

Characters pop in and out the movie with little explanation or development. I had a hard time relating to or caring about most of them. I'm not a big Nicole Kidman fan but I thought she did an excellent job portraying one of the villains. There are cool special effects and a very talented cast, so I was surprised that the movie never kept my attention. The movie may be visually entertaining but is hard to follow if you haven't read the book. There are Deamons, Gyptians, Gobblers, Samoyans, polar bears, witches, and I 'm still trying to figure out who they were or how they related to each other. Then there is dust. I'm not sure what that was all about either.

I'm sure fans of the book will think I was not bright enough to follow the story but I place the blame on the movie. I actually watched the DVD twice in an effort to make sense of it. I had a feeling they took a complicated and detailed story and edited it to death until it didn't make sense. I was later relieved to hear people who read the book criticize the movie for rushing the story and omitting important parts including the ending. They also claimed that the movie studio toned down the any controversial message in the story so as not to offend their audience.

I did pick up on some anti-religion themes but I was looking hard for them. That has nothing to do with the low rating I gave this film. This movie was definitely not Golden but maybe Bronze. I only give it a 5.7 because it is confusing and disjointed. I really wanted to understand this film but I struggled through the entire movie (both times.)

1 comment:

MikkSolo said...

Thanks movie guy. Your review was helpful and insightful. I read the book first. Thought it was good and saw the movie second. Worth the see on DVD but definitely am glad I didn't wast money on movie tickets. As usual, the book was much better than the movie. I must admit the scenery was incredible and the effects were good.

Thanks for taking my request for the review seriously.

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