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The Golden Compass (Widescreen Single-Disc Edition)
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Product Description

Studio: New Line Home Video Release Date: 11/11/2008 Rating: Pg13

A fantasy epic with more than a passing resemblance to the Lord of the Rings and Chronicles of Narnia film franchises, The Golden Compass takes place in an alternate universe where each human's soul is embodied in a companion animal called a daemon. Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards), an orphan who's lived most of her life among the scholars at Oxford, is intrigued when her uncle, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig), announces his plans to travel north to investigate the source of some mysterious particles called Dust. Lyra has little hope of following her uncle until a mysterious woman named Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman, at her most icily beautiful) asks Lyra to travel north as her personal assistant. All is not as it seems, however, and the disappearance of Lyra's friend Roger (Ben Walker) sets her on a dizzying adventure. She does have an alethiometer, or golden compass, that can help her see the truth, and a number of companions, including her shape-shifting daemon, Pantalaimion (voiced by Freddie Highmore of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), polar-bear warrior Iorek Byrnison (voiced by Ian McKellen), Texas aeronaut Lee Scoresby (Sam Elliott), and witch queen Serafina Pekkala (Craig's Casino Royale co-star, Eva Green). Even before its release, The Golden Compass was the subject of controversy over its perceived anti-religious themes. While it does involve an oppressive institution called the Magisterium, it's not overtly religious, particularly to a young viewer. The movie's PG-13 rating should be taken seriously, however. Suitable for an older audience than Narnia (though younger than The Lord of the Rings), it deals with complex concepts, violence (though largely bloodless) and implied death, children and animals in peril, and an unrelentingly ominous and unsettling mood.

Despite a few changes and rearrangements, the overall plot of the movie is remarkably faithful to its source material, the first installment of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. It doesn't finish the book, however, and--much like The Fellowship of the Ring did--leaves the viewer hanging in anticipation of the next film, The Subtle Knife, due in 2009. So even though The Golden Compass is impressive--especially with its spot-on cast and terrific visual effects--we probably won't know its full emotional impact until the story is complete. --David Horiuchi

Customer Reviews:

  • Begging for a sequel that will probably never come
    I imagine the books are actually more descriptive than the movie for I found this to be somewhat confusing at times. The premise itself lasts for a mere few moments in the film, but, while it sounded interesting, I am sure it is better and more clearly explained in the book. All this talk of Dust and Daemons and witches and prophecies, it was all just too much to fit into the span of 2 hours.

    The acting is all quite good, though Daniel Craig is barely in the film. The special effects are truly wonderful and first rate and is really the only thing that keeps your interest.

    The plot is all over the place and jumbled. And it is certainly not helped by the awful editing. It jumps way too quickly from scene to scene and we never really know how much time has passed. That is probably the biggest flaw of the film, next to the script.

    Furthermore, the ending that pretty much leaves off in the middle of nowhere is desperately in need of a sequel. But from what I have heard, since the movie turned out to be not so profitable, no word of a second movie has been heard, which is unfortuate. Perhaps as a trilogy, as it was meant to be, it can turn out to be a perfectly watchable and possibly enjoable film. But as it stands right now, it is unimpressive and pointless. ...more info
  • Very good.
    What a movie. Kidman, Craig, and Dakota Blue Richards portraying the main characters. Excellent acting, really good special effects. The movie follows the book closely, however, it could've been a bit longer as it might be a trifle difficult to follow without having read the book first. I read the book and really enjoyed it and the movie is equally good. I make a point of not listening to those fanatics on either of the good/bad side as this is a fantasy and a very good one at that. I say it's fun for everyone....more info
  • A little disjointed.
    I watched this movie with no memory or knowledge of the controversy surrounding its release. Apparently both sides of the religion and free speech argument had plenty to say. I'm not here to stir that pot. Certainly the controversy precipitated a mediocre box office showing upon the film's release just before Christmas. Yet, the box office intake quadrupled once it hit the international scene, garnering over $360 million. Instead, I rented the DVD with only the knowledge that my wife and kids refused to watch. No matter, there are plenty of films they have self banned to include the Harry Potter series, and I had nothing else to watch on a Sunday afternoon while they were at church.

    As the plot opens we are thrust into a fantasy world where our characters exist in a parallel universe. Their souls exist in the form of different kinds of animals called daemons and walk side by side with their human hosts throughout their lives. The kid's daemons can change shapes into different animals, but by the time they are adults the souls become one kind of animal. Our main character Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) is an orphan who is somewhat of a leader among her peers and challenges her friends, foes, and adults to get to the bottom of a mystery. Her child friends are being kidnapped by the "Gobblers" and taken to a far away place in the north. Her mission is to somehow find them and save them from whatever dark fate awaits them. At the start of her journey we meet her uncle Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) who is trying to prove the existence of "dust" which he believes exists in a parallel universe and enters a person's body through their daemon. Lord Asriel obtains funding from the College and proceeds north to prove his theory. Mean time Lyra his taken away from the college by Mrs. Coulter (Nichol Kidman) under the story of being her assistant. Lyra is a little wary of her new found supporter and before she leaves the college is given an alethiometer by the master of the college. The alethiometer, also called the Golden Compass, is an ancient device banned by the Magesterium, the ruling religious party, because it can be used to find the answer to any question as long as the user is skilled in the interpretation of the device. Confusing yet? Lyra escapes her would-be supporter and captor and enlists the services of many adults to include the Gyptians, a head witch, a Texan aeronaut (Sam Eliot), and an outcast armored polar bear as she heads north to solve the mystery and rescue her friends. The pace and sequence of this trek was at a minimum confusing and downright disjointed. I found myself wondering who edited this thing because the transitions from one plot line to the next were as if something important was left on the cutting room floor. For example, Lord Asriel is captured by some nasty tribes of the north and for nearly an hour of the flick we don't know his fate. Then suddenly a narrator says basically he's OK because he bribed his captors....what? The ending seemed absolutely abrupt, and apparently the original ending was deleted in order to bring it back as the start of a planned sequel. On the good side however, the special effects were excellent and garnered an Academy Award. The acting OK and predictable, especially the somewhat type cast antagonist Nichol Kidman and our rustic hero Sam Eliot. I'm thinking kids could probably follow this better than I and would be thoroughly entertained. We have a kid hero on a mission of mercy assisted by all her new found friends and she is the only one that can read the Golden Compass to keep everyone on track. I probably won't be buying this one, but it is certainly worth a watch...that is unless you have religious reservations.
    ...more info
  • Destroyed the book's integrity over and over again.
    The Golden Compass (Chris Weitz, 2007)

    I am very much in love with His Dark Materials, the Phil Pullman trilogy from which this film gets its sensibility. I tried not to let that affect my judgment while watching this, and I knew going in that no filmmaker would be able to replicate the brilliance of the books. But, even before the movie came out, I knew we were in trouble; Chris Weitz (American Pie) was slated to write and direct. You want to tell me this guy can do Pullman justice? Then came the reports, in 2004, that Weitz was taking some liberties with the script (those who've both read the books and seen the movie are all too well aware of those). How good could it be? I got the expected answer: nowhere near good enough.

    Dakota Blue Richards stars as Lyra Belacqua, the girl around whom everything in the books turns. Her character is the second most notable thing toned down; many of the book's critics rightly point out that Lyra is a shrill, almost harridan-like character in the first book, while the intention here seems to have been to make her cuddly, likable, and full of wonder. Which kind of makes the whole character-development-through-growth-and-change thing null and void (and, as we all know, one of the main rules of writing is that your main character must somehow change). As well, the good guys and the bad guys have been desperately simplified here, and yet paradoxically made somewhat less monstrous/heroic than in the books; I'm still trying to figure out how that happened. The cast (with Daniel Craig as the main good guy and Nicole Kidman as the winter queen-like Mrs. Coulter), however, does the best with what they've got, and a number of the performances are quite good, if you can divorce them from the source material. The special effects are, of course, stunning. As we learned from the horrible adaptations of Eragon and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Hollywood seems to think they can come up with another Lord of the Rings (in terms of box office receipts) as long as they keep the cutting-edge effects coming. They neglected to note Jackson's attention to the character depth and development in his seemingly legendary adaptations of Tolkein.

    Do yourself a favor and see the movie before reading the books. That way you won't know what you're missing (and many of the plot holes will not show up for you, though you will probably wonder why as character like Serafina Pekkala-- who should be a major character-- just kind of pops up now and again, then disappears), and you can go back later, read the book, and actually understand what it was Pullman was on about. **

    ...more info
  • Golden Compass
    A great movie. As it didn't do particularly well it appears unlikely that the rest of the story will be filmed. But it's a great encentive to read the books....more info
  • At least it looked good...
    Mediocre telling of a popular book that I haven't read. After seeing pretty adaptations of other childrens books like 'Bridge to Terabithia' and 'Chronicles of Narnia', this one was a pretty big letdown. Everyone seemed like a stock character, and I never got involved with the by-the-numbers storylines. Looked good, though....more info
  • Why a Wonderful Movie failed at the Box Office.
    Disclaimer--Having seen this movie eleven times in theatres and three times since I bought the DVD, I must confess up front that this is by far my all-time favorite movie out of the many hundreds I have seen over the years. [I'm 68 at this writing.] So the fact that I love it so much will undoubtedly influence this review, and, if you're looking for objectivity above all, this review is probably not a good place to start.

    That said, I'm nevertheless going to try to be as relatively-objective as is possible given that background, and in order to do so I'm going to have to write a very long review. I apologize in advance, but urge you to bear with me, because if you care at all about the state of the cinema or about the rights of children, or both, I have some things to say to you.

    First, a quick plot summary, for those who have read neither the books nor the other reviews on this site.

    Lyra Belacqua, a young girl on the verge of adolecscence, in a somewhat altered London set in an alternate and fairly parallel universe, becomes the central figure in a convoluted story of adults who manipulate and/or try to control children, and of the children who are their victims. Two of her best friends are kidnapped by the 'child-cutters,' as some opponents describe them, and it becomes Lyra's mission to rescue them. In this quest she is aided by, first, a group of Gyptians [sea-faring gypsies], second, an Aeronaut from Texas [who flies a hydrogen-filled blimp of sorts], and, third, an Armored Bear [imagine an over-large ferocious but friendly Polar Bear in medieval Knight's Armor, and you're a third of the way there].

    One peculiarity of this parallel universe is that every human being in it has associated with him or her an animal spirit, a daemon [mis-pronounced as 'demon' in the movie], who is an integral part of her or his personality and individuality. If either the daemon or the human dies, the other immediately dies as well. But, as it turns out, they CAN be permanently separated from each other, by a horrible device called an Intercision Machine. [Hence the term 'child-cutters.'] This makes both aspects of the personality involved much easier to control, and, of course, inevitably, the adults who do the dirty work explain that they are doing it 'for your own good.' Yep. We've heard that before.

    Lyra has been rather indifferently 'raised' by a group of scholars at Oxford's 'Jordan College,' and has in fact been pretty much a street orphan of sorts who has learned to survive by wile, by subterfuge, and by outright lying. This background equips her perfectly for her role as saviour of her fellow kids, as she battles not only the child-cutters but other people who seem superficially to be on her side. She literally never knows quite who to trust, and in one case trusts someone whom she never should have [though we won't find that out till they make the sequel, if they ever do, as the original ending of the movie which reveals this fact was cut just before release].

    Needless to say, this being a kid's movie after all, Lyra in a sense achieves a part of her goal, although in doing so she sets things up for even more horrific confrontations to come. The story is far from over at the end of the movie, although the absolute gut-wrenching cliffhanger at the end of the book is avoided.

    So much for plot.

    In judging this production, I do have a few negative things to say, so will get them out of the way first:

    1. The book is much, much better. The movie's story line is vastly oversimplified and a lot of delicious detail is left out, plus which the sequence of events is altered in a major way, which may offend you greatly if you're any kind of purist.

    2. The movie did not have the guts to call The Magisterium by its name in the books: The Church. On the other hand, since in the symbology used by author Pullman in the books, The Church in Lyra's parallel universe is NOT the same as The Church in ours, it's probably just as well that the movie made this alteration. [The religious right fanatics who protested this movie had obviously never read the books, or they would have realized they were protesting entirely the wrong thing: The Church being condemned in the books is what we call Science in our universe!]

    3. Several clues in the first book which hinted at the real nature of what daemons are [they are NOT souls, for pity sake] are omitted from the movie, so that the true nature of the animal spirits remains a total mystery to most viewers, and even for that matter to some readers of the books, evidently, judging by all the misinformation floating around out there. In this connection, I should point out that just as our heroine, Lyra, tells lies in order to convey deeper truths, so do some other characters, and so does the author of the book. He knows good and well that daemons are not souls, but he pretends at times to say that they are to keep from getting thrown out of society in general. Likewise, I'm sure that the director knows the truth as well, but also doesn't want to flush his career down the toilet by admitting it.

    Now for the positives, and there are a ton:

    1. As several other reviewers have pointed out, the computer generated characters and other special effects are state of the art. Iorek alone, the Armored Bear, is worth several times the price of admission. He is just as 'real' as any of the human characters in the movie. The Oscar was well deserved.

    2. The acting is superb throughout, particularly the fantastic Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra. [It's an absolute crime against humanity that by the time they get around to making the sequels, she will be too old to play the role.]

    3. The musical score by Alexandre Desplat is wonderful and helps carry the movie, often alerting the viewer subtly to the true nature of the characters.

    4. The much-maligned quick-cut editing is actually one of the movie's strong points, especially when you see it more than once.

    5. Chris Weitz' script and direction are spot-on.

    6. The art design, set decoration, and costumes are all worthy of the comparisons being made to Lord of the Rings.

    7. The simplification of the plot, compared to the book, and the omission of a lot of narrative detail, was necessary to keep the movie from being more than three hours long. True, I would have loved the three hour version even more than this one, but the movie is aimed primarily at kids, after all, and what modern kid will sit still through even a three-minute movie, let alone a three hour one.

    8. This movie is 'good for you,' and good for your kids. Your ten, eleven, and twelve year olds should watch it over and over. The ones who have not been seduced by video game culture will appreciate it, and even those who have may find themselves being redeemed. The general run of Hollywood cinema for kids is worse than pablum. This one has real mental nutrition in it, and the kids who see it will 'get it,' even when the adults don't.

    Which concludes my review of the movie and of the DVD. But I have a few more words to say, partly because this story in both book and movie form is so controversial and also because the underlying theme--the rights of children--is so critical to the health of our society. Or to put it another way, the underlying theme of the rights of children explains WHY the story is so controversial, and that requires some comment.

    The bad guys in this movie--by which I mean both the overtly bad ones and the ones who seem superficially to be 'good guys' but aren't--are the epitome of what's wrong with the way we treat children in our society. [By 'our' society, I am referring to the U.S. mostly.] And that is why the movie was a box-office failure in the U.S. and was a wild success in the rest of the world. It had nothing to do with the advertising or the way it was promoted. It has everything to do with the way most parents and other adult authority figures in our culture relate to kids:

    As the comic strip character Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us." WE are the child-cutters. WE are the ones who deny children the right to explore their own feelings, especially their own feelings relating to their growing sense of sexuality. WE are the ones who tolerate child-rearing based on 'authority' rather than on nurturance. WE are the ones who say, "Because I said so," when asked 'Why' by the little ones. The bad guys in this story are US. Of COURSE such a movie, with such a message, is going to fail at the box office. People are not entirely stupid. They are not going to pay to expose their kids to propaganda aimed at getting them to rebel against The Magisterium. Because the Magisterium is not The Church. It's you and me. Except I've resigned from it. And if you have any sense, you will too. And you'll be on the side henceforth of those who believe that children very often know what's best for themselves, and believe it, and do it, provided the rest of us just please stop getting in the way, with our Intercision Machines cutting away the kids' spirits from them.
    ...more info
  • Um, somebody forgot to finish the movie...
    I read His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass) (suffered through it to be more accurate). Then I watched the Golden Compass. I was grateful that it left out a lot of the banalities of the book, but then the movie ended with about a third to a quarter of book left to go.

    I saw the credits start to roll and I thought "Huh! Where's the rest of the story? WTF?"

    Other than that, I felt the movie represented the book very well. If only they had finished it....more info
  • 2.5 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    The Golden Compass is not a perfect film--it feels incomplete at times and some of the plotlines, like Daniel Craig's, are given the short shrift--but it's an entertaining and enjoyable enough fantasy film for those who don't find it ideologically offensive....more info
  • Rushed and disjointed
    How disappointing. The story is rushed and disjointed, trying to fit way too much material into the time allowed. Since I had read the books, at least I knew what the story was supposed to be. If you didn't read them, then forget about it.

    The only positives I can mention are that the movie is nice, appearance-wise, and the armored-bears are kind of cool.

    The ending is abrupt and unsatisying. Of course, they are setting it up for a sequal but, considering how badly this movie was done, a sequal seems unlikely...

    Not recommended....more info
  • If you can do what every great film maker wants
    and "suspend your disbelief" for a few hours so that you don't even realize time has gone by, you know you have an amazing creative gift given you from some inspired being out there somewhere on this earth who wrote it.

    I'm not going to write about the story line since so many others did that but about how shocked I was there are movies that can still take me totally out of my own life and self-awareness (i.e. suspended disbelief) these days because I have a chronic pain illness. But this movie is so worth seeing IF YOU ARE A DREAMER and love to ponder about all the possible life that exists in a grand, grand, creation of a universe of hundreds of billions of stars in hundreds of billions of galaxies and who knows how many planets and all of the ways other kinds of life may go about their living...

    Then you will find this your favorite movie of the year to inspire more dreaming about all the big things in the cosmos, and then in this life, it will remove you from the little slice of life (1 experience in billions) that we, as humans who find ourselves as earthly beings here, are allowed. It is based on a cosmic sized or multiple-universe-type world(s).

    IF, as one reviewer said, because there is magic involved in the movie there is nothing to learn from it, then for their sake I'd reccommend staying away from all science fiction and fantasy for your own happiness because these genre's have always been about creating settings different from our own to help get around the natural human insticts and fear of change and fear of what we don't know or understand. Just look at all of history to see how that fundament of humanity of what fear of the unknown has done. And action before thinking caused the worst damage. Esp when thinking disallowed about the opposing things. Endless wars from self-imprinted fears of beliefs and not thinking. Especially racially. And yet it still goes on in a small way in each of us daily.

    For example I read a recent study that people actively only look for news that supports their views they already have -- all people on all sides. As this bias/fear is there it should be recognized as all biases should. If we aren't aware of ourselves why be here?! But, it's not easy and takes effort. And unfortunately studies say we only get more embedded with age which makes sense. We all want to feel safe. Sometimes it's true that thinking leads one to feel unsafe. But it's only what you do with the thoughts that could be dangerous.

    Such fictions and dreams are essenital for more reasons than I can even begin to go in to here except 1. Allowing thoughts about everything have gotten us this amazing technical revolution in a short time for human history. And these genre's of which I speak find a way to gently slip in thoughts to let loose that would otherwise not be allowed to be thought of from a "home world" point of view (ie using real life's real issues).

    But with thinking or kicking around a new thought, as opposed to confirming one's views, you can only gain more knowledge and life. Not lose it -- unless you choose to do so and change your mind.

    Did you know a number of Arthur C. Clark's technical items/devices he created in his books to make his future world creation work the way he wanted, were read by engineers and scientists who liked the ideas from his books so much they ended up spending their lives then creating his devices, some ended up almost exactly as he described. Some we couldn't imagine being without now such as the satelite!

    But anyway, to those who want and even need to know there is more than this small slice of life - YOU NEED TO SEE THIS MOVIE of parallel universes and dreamlands to fill up the dream tank some more. And hope the rest of the Trilogy will be coming to DVD soon!

    BTW--where does your mind go when you are actually living the story with the characters in something as amazing as this movie? Which is so rare for me! :) What an interesting thing to think about!

    Now THAT IS LIVING -- thinking freely in a world thaT IS hopefully seeing more freedom everywhere slowly but surely? If scifi/fantasy authors keep planting such seeds of dreaming then it will be surely! If there is something to preach it is to preach thinking. Of all kinds! Right and wrong!

    OH HOW WELL THIS MOVIE/DREAM will wrap you up in wonderings and "what if's"? Just to get out of this place for a couple hours... so special! And Lyra (the main character a young girl) sticks in my mind after seeing the movie - the most PHENOMENAL CHILD ACTOR - and I'm reminded of her when watching other things or talking to people and something comes up because the visuals of the movie stay like rememembering a vivid dream for a long time. This movie will get in your soul! What a wonderful creation - not just the movie but - the imagination, don't you agree?!

    But this is just a little entertainment we are talking about here after all... right?...more info
  • Exciting Missions
    Natalie Portman is alittle darker in this film. She has so many great performances. Dakota Blue Richards will go far in the business and she makes a great heroine in this film. Fast action, fast pace but you can follow the story line. ...more info
  • Terrible!
    This was a really bad movie. Maybe it was a better book. The Harry Potter, and Narnia movies were so much better. I can see why there will probably not be a followup movie....more info
  • Movie: 2/5 Picture Quality: 3~4/5 Sound Quality: 4/5 Extras: 4/5
    Version: U.S.A / Region A
    VC-1 BD-50
    Running time: 1:53:17
    Disc size: 48,426,421,480 bytes
    Movie size: 25,958,633,472 bytes
    Average Video Bit Rate: 22.63 Mbps
    DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 24-bit

    (BonusView) PiP Secondary Encode
    Movie size: 21,609,013,248
    DTS 5.1 1509Kbps 24-bit

    Contains moderate to heavy application of Digital Video Noise Reduction (DNR) ...more info
  • Blu-Ray Golden Compass ...Eva Green... The Barefoot Witch
    Blu-Ray Golden Compass The Best Thing for me as an Adult in this Movie is Eva Green as the Barefoot Witch ...She is a Great Actress and man is She Sexy......more info
  • Well, it's pretty to look at
    True, it's been a about three or so years since I've read Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy, the books upon which this film is based, if you didn't know. But as that time three years ago was my second time going through the trilogy, I still like to think I had a decent memory of them along with a decent opinion. At the risk of offending fans, I always felt Pullman's characters--Lyra, Mrs. Coulter, Will, the whole gang--to be on the weak side of characterization, a few hops from being completely two-dimensional. STILL, I thought the story and theme to be on another plane entirely, certainly enough to make the books as famous as they are and even flesh out an entertaining movie.

    I promise, I tried my best to like this movie, for the sake of those books. For the sake of Sam Elliot and the goddess Nicole Kidman. Heck, even for that cute little new girl. They all did their best, but frankly this movie was fluff, and it's hard to work with fluff. How could they take such thought- and controversy- provoking books and turn them into fluff? I'm hardly an atheist, but I had appreciated the story's urge for free thought, free will, and a keener look at authority. The smidgen they put in here was all too welcomed, but not enough to give this movie proper heart and soul.

    What we are left with is a rushed train of lovely cinematography, scenery, and special effects that accompany an equally rushed plot. Yes, there is a lot of story to get into this movie, but making that the priority left me cold toward these characters who were weak in the book and utterly two-dimensional on screen. I felt like I was an infant teenager being instructed in the ways of generic fantasy. Talking bears? Soul-daemons? Other worlds? Texas as a country? Wonderful, fantastic ideas that appeared on the big screen like toys in hurried images.

    I'm sorry, but while the director was having fun with the camera, the audience was confused by the random jumping from scene to scene, plot to plot.

    So maybe it was a tragic result of putting a plot-based rather than character-based story in a movie that led to all story and show and no emotional depth. Maybe it was a tragic result of playing it safe by removing all blatant references to religion. Maybe I'm just a whiney book purist.

    All I know is that the result was flashy, heartless, and boring. ...more info
  • Safe movie --avoids main issues
    None of the quasi scientific aspects of the book makes it into the movie. Character development, poor in the books, is of course worse in the movie. But most significant in comparison between the book and film is the avoidance entirely of who the Magisterium represents and so who the war is really against. As a result the plot must seem simply baffling to those who have not read the trilogy. The bears become the most interesting thing and it makes sense why an Oscar went in that direction. In short, this one is not a keeper. I have no interest in watching it again to seek nuances I might have missed nor would I be interested in seeing the other two books treated the same way. But as an interesting movie for kids it was beautifully done. The heroine will be good for girls who need more examples of young girls doing well and it should tweak imaginations....more info
  • Didn't read the book.... sorry
    I never heard of the books but then as far as i knew young Mr. Potter was all the rage. I had to give this film a pass when it first came out even though I wanted to see it. Life got in the way and many moons later I finally viewed the film on DVD, a rental to boot.
    I have to say, I'm not sure why this film has so many mixed reviews when I, my wife and college age daughters all loved it.
    Why? Because we did. We found the characters to be both complex and sympathetic. The story is very intriquing and well paced. I'm glad it was rated PG13 because it had a few rough spots (the polar bear warriors fighting was particularly savage). As I don't own this film (a problem I'll rectify soon) I have to forego with explicit descriptions and character's names since it has been a few weeks since we viewed the film. Despite that it left its mark on me. The young lady (Lyra?) was a treat. She was payed with just the right amount of precociousness and innocence as well as drive to make her the perfect foil for adults who disregard youth as simply precocious and naive. Her rescues, escapes and minor triumphs are all worthy of acclaim. Her friends (rescuers and defenders) may have their agendas but they also sincerely help her. The polar bear warrior king was (voiced by Ian McKellen) was perfect as her loyal protector with a history that needed to be resolved.
    I've read the complaints about this film and was prepared for the worst. It's too bad their noise prevailed in making this film so unpopular.
    Now, thanks to that rabble, I'll have to read the books to get to the finish of the tale. That's not so terrible but this franchise deserved better than it received at the box office. I'm sure the nay-sayers are delighted in their results.
    As for the complaints that this film (and the books?) impugned "mother church", well, I saw no such evidence to validate those claims.
    No surprise there....more info
  • A waste of the one thing you can never get more of - TIME!
    This movie has no point and is a yawn-fest. Avoid! Your time is better spent on ANYthing else besides wasting it on this movie....more info
  • Can negative reviews kill what could have been a fantastic series?
    Unfortunately, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials never gained the
    fame and mass following of JKR's Harry Potter. But his series was one
    of my favorites as a child, and now this first movie is a visual treat,
    and welcome reminder of how wonderful the books were.

    Unfortunately, we marketed the movie all wrong in the US, and labeling
    the series as the "anti-Narnia chronicles" did not help boost its
    popularity among the audience here, which reveres CS Lewis's creation.
    Please understand, there is nothing about His Dark Materials that
    detracts from the wonder and Christian themes found in Narnia. If
    anything, having read the two series side by side as a kid, I was able
    to appreciate the parallels between stories, as well as the different
    worldviews of each author.

    I think children and adults alike will enjoy this movie tremendously,
    regardless of religion or worldview, regardless of whether or not they
    have read the books. My boyfriend was not familiar with the series,
    but enjoyed it as much as I did. In fact, he was the one who informed
    me that the next 2 movies are not currently in production, as it
    failed to crack $70 million in the domestic box office despite huge
    success overseas. In fact, it is the first film to ever crack $300
    million internationally without reaching $100 million domestic. An
    astonishing disconnect, really.

    The producer has vowed to make the 2nd and 3rd movies, and I'm
    crossing my fingers they do a better job marketing the movie (and that
    critics aren't so quick to trash it!) This series has real potential....more info
  • Underrated
    I think the only reason that this film was not more successful in the U.S. is because the books were not as well known as in England. The movie is exciting and well made on every level. The 2 disc set is the only way to go because the special features are exactly what real movie buffs have grown to expect. Hope they make the sequel....more info
  • Thought provoking fantasy with beautiful imagery!
    We don't own a TV, but love to watch movies on our big screen. We have friends in for movie nights and every single one of them has loved this movie. We've seen it over and over and we want to see the whole trilogy created in movie form.

    After seeing the movie for the first time and finding out that it came from a book, we bought the three book set on Amazon and are loving reading these as well.

    This is a great fantasy!!! The writer, director and actors are all using their creative natures to create magical pieces. Thanks and we want more....more.....more!!!!!!...more info
  • Atheist blather
    The author made no effort to hide his anti-catholic and atheist viewpoint. While the movie itself made for decent science fiction, the story line will definitely feel like a slap in the face to any person well versed/educated in philosophy or theology.

    I'd skip this and buy something with a better message (like Chronicles of Narnia). ...more info
  • Good but could have been better with a better script
    The Golden Compass is an entertaining film with an intriguing story line. It falls short in many areas however so I'd recommend it but not very enthusiastically. The film makers build a very exotic world for the story. However, one of my main criticisms is, you know it's an artificial world. You always are aware the cast is working in front of a green screen. You never lose the feeling you're watching a digital world or get to immerse yourself in the story. The demons or external representation of the characters souls are beautifully render. Pan, Lyra Belaqua's demon, is an excellent character.

    The casting is good but the performances are only average. Nicole Kidman is great as the evil Mrs. Coulter. Her character is at times violent and always creepy and mysterious. Dakota Richards as the lead character, Lyra Belaqua, is very good and has some great scenes. The rest of the performances are only average. You've seen Sam Elliot play the same western hero a million times already and this isn't one of the better performances of it. The digital character Iorek Byrnison might be the best of the whole film. He is a drunken, exiled king of the armored bears. He is truly courageous and very easy to like with his flaws and fears.

    Now to the main criticism of the film, the story. It develops very slowly, is confusing as heck at times, and does not have an ending in this film. It latterly ends with the characters wrapping up what happened here and what needs to happen in the next film. It's very disappointing. The pacing was awful. Some parts that have little to do with the story take forever to develop and other key parts are flown past with little explanation. Don't bother watching if you like your stories to have a beginning a build to a climax and an ending because you won't get that here. It might be worth waiting for the second film so you can get closure in one viewing of them both.

    Additionally, I'd warn parents to view this before deciding to let their children watch it. I'm not sure some of it is really appropriate for the age I would expect to be really interested in this film. It is very dark; there are some really disturbing scenes with the children and their demons. There is also a lot of death and killing in it. It's hard to over look someone dying when their demon animal burst in to flam and is consumed to ashes. And that happens frequently here. The bear fight between Iorek Byrnison and the current bear king ends in an extremely brutal and graphic sequence.

    Technically, the blue-ray disc is outstanding. The transfer is crisp, clean and highly detailed. The sound track is excellent as are the effects. I'd recommend it as a blue-ray demo disc for sure.

    So, I'd recommend the film just not every enthusiastically.
    ...more info
  • ADD Character Development REMOVE Hate-Fest
    This movie (and I assume the book) started out with what could have been a great premise. People in a parallel universe live with their souls outside their bodies.

    The special effects in the movie made the scenes wonderful to watch. However, I didn't go to the theater in order to go to a kind of moving picture art museum; I went to see a movie. And a movie requires enough character development for me to care whether or not the heroine lives or dies or the person she's trying to save lives or dies. Consequently, there's no comparison between this and Lord of the Rings. None at all.

    People who read the book already might have had the character development in their heads. And if so, maybe that's how someone could give this thing three stars.

    So what's even worse than the lack of character development (and therefore lack of a story worth caring about) is that the movie didn't even get close to resolving like Lord of the Rings did at the end each segment. And you can't call the end of the movie a cliff hanger don't care what happens to the characters next.

    But the thing that was most alarming about this film was how directly the author of the book (or the film makters)attack the Catholic Church, if not people of faith in general. I had heard some of the religious hoopla about the film before I went to see it, but there's been religious hoopla about movies before that didn't amount to very much(Example: The Last Temptation of Christ) That is NOT the case here.

    Even though I'm not Catholic and am very aware of the Catholic Church's troubled history and some of its abuses, I could see that this movie was not a representation of a difference of opinion OR simply lopsided in its representation of organized religion. It was a hate-fest. I suppose this should have been clear from the beginning of the movie--before I saw how the Catholic imagery was handled--but I was trying to give the movie the benefit of the doubt. However, I doubt there's another reason to name the souls outside the body "demons," no matter how you spell it, other than to put Catholics and people who believe in God down. (Except for creating enough religious hoopla and controversy that people go to see the movie)

    Then again, it also seems like the author must have been hurt very deeply at some point by someone who CLAIMED to be a person of faith which is a very sad thing. And I'm sorry for him or her.

    But back to the movie--I almost hope someone redoes the movie (and the book it's based on) and does the story again without the anti-religious messages. I know there's a good story to be built around humans having their souls outside the body. I just know it.
    ...more info
  • Don't watch this if you'v ever read the book!!!
    For those who are familiar with Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy will be greatly unsatisfied with the adaptation of the fist book in Pullman's trilogy. Much of the story is left told, some chapters along with characters and groups of character are completely cut out while others are rearranged or switched out, even rewritten. this gives the movie the feeling of being rushed and not fully completed before it hit the screen. Someone should have put more thought into this adaptation before trying to put it on the screen. There was only one thing about this movie that i did find pleasing and that was the casting of the characters. All the actors preformed the part wonderfully in spite of the over all uncompleted feeling the movie leaves you with. The actors are the only reason i am giving this movie 2 stars instead of one. ...more info