The Golden Compass
Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Family
IMDB rating:
Chris Weitz
Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter
Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel
Ben Walker as Roger
Freddie Highmore as Pantalaimon
Ian McKellen as Iorek Byrnison
Eva Green as Serafina Pekkala
Jim Carter as John Faa
Tom Courtenay as Farder Coram
Ian McShane as Ragnar Sturlusson
Sam Elliott as Lee Scoresby
Christopher Lee as First High Councilor
Edward de Souza as Second High Councilor
Storyline: It was no ordinary life for a young girl: living among scholars in the hallowed halls of Jordan College and tearing unsupervised through Oxford's motley streets on mad quests for adventure. But Lyra's greatest adventure would begin closer to home, the day she heard hushed talk of an extraordinary particle. Microscopic in size, the magical dust- discovered in the vast Arctic expanse of the North -was rumored to possess profound properties that could unite whole universes. But there were those who feared the particle and would stop at nothing to destroy it. Catapulted into the heart of a terrible struggle, Lyra was forced to seek aid from clans, 'gyptians, and formidable armored bears. And as she journeyed into unbelievable danger, she had not the faintest clue that she alone was destined to win, or to lose, this more-than-mortal battle...
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I loved it
I disagree this movie was a great success.... I can't wait till the next movie. Although I don't get why they call it demons. When they are their souls. I am a Christian and I love it.!!! You people should watch the movie. And all you haters should just chill. The fighting scene is pretty cool too. Peace. I also liked the site of the movie. In which you could find out what demon you have. The stars in the movies are also my favorite actors. At least most of them. Does anyone Know when the next movie comes out? If you do watch this movie.I would like to tell you that a big surprise will come. Sorry I can't tell you but it will be cool.
I've not read the book, but went into the cinema with solid expectations after reading and hearing relatively good things about the film. I was drawn in by the stellar cast, and the fact that Nicole Kidman looked to be one of the villains.

I left disappointed; the story is weak - supporting characters are not developed at all and you find yourself not caring for them. The central character is as irritating as the wooden young actress who plays her. The film simply never gains momentum until the last 20 - 25 minutes, by which time you've stopped giving a damn.

The biggest crime is the poor use of one of the strongest casts I've seen for a while. First and second-billed Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig have just a handful of scenes between them. Christopher Lee, who again is billed quite highly, has a whopping two lines. If I had Christopher Lee in a film of mine, I'd make good use of him - I promise you that. Derek Jacobi is present but underused - as are Kathy Bates, Tom Courtenay, and Kristin Scott Thomas. The only actors who earned their paychecks were Sam Elliot and Ian McKellen, who voiced a naff-looking CGI polar bear (albeit very well). All of these seasoned actors deliver the goods - but that's no good if they're never on screen! Not enough gritty storyline, intriguing characters, action, suspense, or star-power to keep me interested for the film's duration. This first instalment could kill the series before it even gets going.
Good acting and special effects. Poor storytelling
I have not read the book so I can't comment on how close the movie follows it. However, as a movie, it is so poorly edited to be barely comprehensible. The whole movie seems like every other scene has been cut out. Characters and situations are not explained, relationships are not developed, and the plot is left with gaping holes. Fans of the book will, no doubt, be able to fill in the details. For the rest of us, I would not bother. This is a shame because the acting is good and well-cast. The special effects are equally impressive. If the movie had lasted another hour, it probably would have been terrific. Hopefully, a director's cut will be released some day that redeems this travesty.
Had to turn it off!
I could not be bothered to watch this. Not sure what was going on. Could not care one bit for the characters. TOTALLY BORED! This is only the second movie in my life i have turned off before the end. The other is Relic! Boy that sucked! I am a huge fan of fantasy. I love Star Wars, LOTR, Narnia, D&D (not the movie!) but this left me cold.

Please don't think i am stupid for not understanding it, i just couldn't be bothered to understand it.

The movie was like a poor pantomime, and a clumsy one at that. Poor acting, type-casting by the bucket load, and a terrible script.

Shockingly bad.
Appalling in so many ways
I'll start by saying that love the book this film is based on and feel this is a terrible interpretation but even if I'd never read it, I would dislike this film.

The film starts badly enough, revealing information on parallel universes and such in a narrator exposition, a typical unimaginative solution to getting across important parts of the plot that they couldn't be bothered including in the film itself. Except in this case, the information isn't important to the story at all and just gets in the way.

The pacing is terrible, jumping from scene to scene without giving any of them enough time to develop and really become interesting. Some of the most important scenes in the film feel like they're dealt with in a heartbeat.

Most of the characters suffer the same fate, several important characters receive one scene before they are completely forgotten. The opposite is true of Nicole Kidman though I wish it wasn't. She receives far too much screen time, her acting is sub-par and her scenes are often irrelevant. At one point, the film leaves the main characters to switch to Kidman who says "I know where she is going" before it immediately switches back to the main characters again. We know she knows this, she revealed it earlier in the film as well but for some reason, that one second of dialogue warranted a scene change. Characters like Lord Asriel, Lyra and Iorek do remain reasonably close to their characters in the book but due to the films terrible pacing, this means they spend seconds making decisions, forming bonds and overall developing as characters where they would normally spend minutes or hours. I realise that a film has time constraints a book doesn't but this feels extremely rushed even for a film.

Finally, I am just annoyed with the way the settings in the film had to look so otherworldly and magical. Not only does it ruin the Victorian atmosphere which the book maintained throughout but a few less sweeping shots of zeppelins with jet engines and three wheeled cars with balls of blue fire powering them travelling around London filled with gold and glass domes and white marble towers and a few more scenes spent on characters might have made this film worth watching. But I guess you have to have pretty lights and green flames to bring in the Harry Potter rabble.

The only good things about this film are the CGI on the daemons and the bears (who often act better than Kidman), the shots of arctic mountains and plateaus and the acting from Dakota Blue Richards, who isn't perfect but is much better than I feared, and Ian McKellen, who performs very well as usual. None of which is enough to save this film. I was relieved that they cut the ending and hope they do not produce a sequel.
A waste of time
I admit, I was anxious to see 'The Golden Compass' when it was revealed the author of the original books was friends with JRR Tolkien and the author of the 'Chronicals of Narnia' pros. But even among a group of good friends, there's still the 'odd man out'. I love Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Horror and Action films (the weirder the better), but I found TGC to be too weird, even for my taste. The characters were too wooden, and even in an alternate reality, I have a hard time of someone's totem being referred to 'demon' following them around (the word, 'demon' doesn't bother me, but it just seemed way out of place.) And it wasn't until the very end that they revealed what the villain(s) were up to: They were going to take over all alternate realities. I had to sit through a 3 hour movie (that felt like 5) for the antagonist's motive?? Only then did I get interested. The only surprise I got was that it was nice to see Claire Higgins again, long absent from mainstream films since her portrayal of Julia from Hellraiser I and II. I purposely didn't mark the 'contain's spoiler' box because the film was already spoiled. I just didn't feel connected to the characters to sit through the drudgery. I did enjoy the fantastic ensemble cast, but felt their talents wasted. The look of the alternate reality where the story was set was cool, but that wasn't enough to keep my interest.

If there is to be a 2nd or 3rd sequel, They need to make the characters more interesting and not have so many long boring gaps in between important parts. I saw the film only once, and that's fine with me.

On a scale of 5 stars (5 being 'Citizen Kane' and 1 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' material), I give it 2.
An excellent way to ruin an brilliant novel
Ever since the Lord of the Rings Trilogy Hollywood has been looking at epics to be release, especially looking towards fantasy novels. The Golden Compass was based on Northern Lights (which I thought was a better title), a part of the His Dark Materials Trilogy. The story itself is a fairly simple affair. Its starts with Lyra, the hero of the story, watching the attempted murder of her uncle. At the same time children across Britain getting kidnapped, including Lyra's best friend, Roger. This leads to Lyra's adventure up North and on the way she makes enemies in the name of Mrs. Coulter and the Gobbers, and friends with the Gyptain people and Iorek Byrnison, the exiled king of the Bears. The film changed too much from the book. The film doesn't start with the attempted murder of Lord Asreil. It misses out of a lot of key scenes and doesn't try to explain things to people who might not have read the books. Lyra meets Serafina Pekkala, the witch queen, too early in the film and you don't see her daemon at all. Finally it changes the order of events because in the book Lyra helps save the children from experiment at Bolvangar, before going to help Iorek Byrnison reclaim his throne. In the film it was the other way room and I think that is just criminal. The book was also more darker in tone to the film. In the book children do die and suffer, but this isn't shown in the film. I also pictured the world differently; I pictured Jordan College as a more darker, Gothic building, and the world the book was set in was a late Victorian/early Edwardian period, not the modern world in the film. I also thought Lee Scoresby should have been played by a younger actor, Sam Elliot is good, but it really should have been some their late 30s, early 40s. Lyra also should have had straight blonde, not curly brown hair. They are some good points. They is some good action, especially the fight between the bears. They is a good cast and was well acted. Unforuately this wasn't enough to save the film.
Entertainment at the cost of profundity
Literary adaptations are always a testy business, with filmmakers consistently trying to appease fans of the original work while still making sufficient changes to make the material work as a film. With this in mind, as well as the inevitable uproar from various religious sects, The Golden Compass, adapted from the first book in Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy was hardly an easy sell, and by no means a sure bid for box office success. Despite all of the negative factors against it, the film, while not the timeless fantasy epic it would like to be, proves a decent adaptation of Pullman's work and a sufficiently entertaining piece of escapism to boot.

Despite initial skepticism, director Chris Weitz of American Pie infamy demonstrates sufficient care and interest in his subject matter to bring the novel to life in a suitably quality fashion. Despite the occasional moment of flashy cinematography or special effects giving the impression of a child experimenting with his film-making toys, Weitz demonstrates a firm and steady grip on his film, keeping the tone light for a younger audience while retaining the occasional darker moment from the book to keep fans satisfied. Weitz's screenplay, while nowhere near as disappointing as it could have been, falls prey to the typical film fantasy pitfall of consistently struggling to force-feed as much information to the audience as possible as quickly and in as simplistic a fashion as possible, leading to a somewhat rushed narrative and an irritating lack of character development or exposition. Fans of the source material will likely grumble due to the occasional creative change, some more noticeable than others, while those unfamiliar with Pullman's books may be lost in a flurry of confusion, bombarded with a constant array of new names, faces and theoretical concepts. However, despite a disappointingly simplistic tone, the sheer enjoyment factor of the novel is not lost, and such is the film's primary strength: entertainment, if at the cost of profundity.

The special effects are for the most part top notch - the shapeshifting daemon effects are impressively integrated, the armoured bear fight is without question the pure, unfiltered exhilarating spectacle of the year, and the final mass battle sequence is similarly thrilling. The film's sets, costumes and props are spellbinding, easily giving the viewer the sense of being immersed in an imaginative alternate world with all of the visual splendour befitting such a fantasy epic. However, the film's musical score is a painful rehash of far too many clichéd epic film scores of late - far too overdone to be in the least emotionally affecting.

The stellar cast prove to be the film's high point, each inhabiting their roles with a comfort suggesting they had been born to play their respective parts. Newcomer Dakota Blue Richards is a revelation, surpassing the wooden efforts of most other child actors and carrying her lead role with ease, holding her own alongside her incredibly accomplished adult co-stars. Nicole Kidman is sheer perfection as the malevolent yet hypnotic Mrs. Coulter, effortlessly walking away with the show - every moment on screen, every glance, every movement is entirely in character, so fully does Kidman make the role her own. Daniel Craig proves a very fitting choice as scientific explorer Lord Asriel, making good use of his far too fleeting screen time, though one can't help but wish his character had a slight bit more of an edge to him.

Sam Elliot gives his strongest performance in years, instilling sardonic aeronaut Lee Scoresby with an offbeat charisma and sly humour wonderfully fitting the role and Eva Green is an ethereal and captivating presence as mysterious witch Serafina Pekkala. The somberous tones of Ian McKellan prove ideal in breathing life and soul into armoured bear Iorek Byrnison, and young Freddie Highmore is well cast as the voice of Lyra's daemon, Pantalaimon. Derek Jacobi and Simon McBurney give strong, if one dimensional performances as heads of the ominous Magesterium organization, as does Christopher Lee, whose 'blink-and-you-miss- him' role appears to be nothing less than a blatant cash in on The Lord of the Rings, but who delivers his one line well at any rate.

While fans of the novels may lament the watering down of the philosophical undertones of Pullman's novel, and the film being directed towards a younger audience, on the whole, despite the inescapable criticisms, as a sprawling piece of fantasy escapism, immersing the viewer in a world of armoured bears, daemons and witches, the film is a rousing success. It's just a shame to see such a strong premise fraught with such an overbearing air of caution and safety to please the lower common denominator, and one can't help but wish the producers had been slightly more daring, and captured a trace more of Pullman's nervy grit and spark to make the film a slightly less generic Hollywood blockbuster, and more satisfying overall. The film certainly isn't the 'next Lord of the Rings' which New Line certainly seems to intend for it to become, but an enjoyable and sufficiently impressive effort to warrant the next installment in the series, The Subtle Knife being made.

I, for one, loathed it
An unmitigated disaster. It's a charmless Lord of the Rings cash-in. I believe that the producers had a lot to do with its failure. New Line Cinema desperately wanted a new fantasy franchise, and I imagine they demanded that this one come in under two hours so they could have more showtimes. The film is nothing but exposition and plot, moving breathlessly between locales and introducing scads of characters for whom I couldn't give a rat's ass. We're never allowed to know any of these people, not even the protagonist, a precocious preteen played by Dakota Blue Richards. Things happen so quickly and dialogue is delivered so rapidly, I felt like I was watching Speed Racer. I've heard the novel is actually quite good. I imagine it's better than this, but I was rather annoyed at one major conceit of Philip Pullman's universe: every human being on his alternate Earth has a spirit animal, called a daemon, that follows them around. This idea allows the filmmakers, at any rate, to be lazy. When they want to tell us a character is bad, their daemon is a snake or a beetle, or a filthy monkey. When they're good, they make them something noble, like a bird or a tiger or something. This is just really bad storytelling. The film, of course, ends with plot strings showing, letting us know that there will be sequels. Even though the film has already tanked, they'll probably make them anyway. I certainly won't be in attendance. You shouldn't make the initial mistake of seeing this one.
This Compass Lied
All the elements of a 10 star movie are obviously prevalent here, but they don't all get put into play.

I don't understand why New Line advertised this as the "next Lord Of The Rings epic", when they gave that movie close to three hours of film time and this only two! (?) Another half hour at least of this movie would have done it more justice, because it felt extremely rushed. It seemed like they were throwing information out at you too quick to fully grasp, and never letting the cast just immerse themselves in it.

The music here was nothing short of ordinary. I don't remember a single song from the movie save the "gyption theme". I honestly think the music could have been 100 times better, and bring more immersion in.

However, I believed the cast was great. It is truly great that Lyra, portrayed by Dakota Blue Richards, now has a face. They picked someone with the look and talent to really shine. Lord Asriel, portrayed by Daniel Craig and Ms. Coulter, portrayed by Nicole Kidman were played fantastically. Although Daniel Craig fans will be disappointed. He only has a 15 minute cameo. Lee Scoresby, portrayed by Sam Elliot, was great. It seems they intended him for a bit of comic relief, but I just had hoped they gave him more time to show it off due to the non-stop drama sequences.

The scenery was amazing, and very believable. The daemons, magic, witches, are all very well done and very beautiful.

I see this movie as a financial failure. You have to look at this from a critical view, the "new comers". The people the movie is trying to grab. I brought ten people to the advanced screening December 1st, four of which had read the books (myself included). They (and myself) had said that the plot was too rushed. The six that had not read them either said it was too confusing and ending up requiring explanations, or said it was too boring because they didn't take the time to flesh out the characters. Coincidentally, one of them got too frustrated with it and bored and walked out.

Fanaticly, I really like this movie (but it is real rushed), however I tried looking at this movie with a newcomer view. Reality wise, people walking in who aren't loyal fanatics are probably going to be very disappointed. Unfortunately, the list of "loyal fanatics" isn't going to be enough to make this movie a success. At any rate, this is definitely no Lord Of The Rings... It's just another flick to watch on a rainy afternoon.
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