I finally saw The Golden Compass yesterday. Was it good? No. Why wasn’t it good? That is a complex question. The problem with Compass wasn’t the acting.
The acting was actually superb. Dakota Blue Richards was amazing as Lyra. In what appears to be her first acting job, she was the leading lady of the movie. Also, Nicole Kidman and Sam Elliot were highlights of the exceptional cast.
The movie also looked beautiful. The set design, camera angles, and directing were great. There is not one flaw I could find in a single viewing. The way the movie was presented was equal to that of Narnia or Rings, both to which this movie will be compared. The bears and the daemon CGI was some of the best I’ve ever seen.
What made it a bad film was the script, and the editing. I’ve not read the books, but it seemed that they tried to cram the entire story into the movie. No adapting was done. The movie seem to be broken up into a series of tasks, like an RPG, that were only loosely connected. An example of this is Stardust. If you have every read the book, it is full of semi-connected events that really don’t serve the complete story. The movie was adapted in such a way that it flowed completely, and brought the intention, if not the exact words, to the screen.
I love mythology in movies, books and television. I never find myself lost in a mythology, but there was so much going on that I couldn’t keep up. The one thing the movie accomplished was enticing me to read the book (so I know what the heck was going on).
As far as the controversy, the overt anti-religious theme was not there. As with most movies, without the monologue present in the novel the hidden message is lost. Neither my son or wife picked up on any such message (i.e. the Majorum is the Church). I went in knowing the controversy, and still had difficulty seeing the parrallels.
In all, I give The Golden Compass an I-should-have-waited-for-the-DVD and wish-I-would-have-read-the-<a href=”book first.