Movie Review: The Golden Compass – Starring Nicole Kidman, Dakota Blue Richards & Daniel Craig

Watch The Golden Compass via Amazon Instant VideoMovie: The Golden Compass (PG-13)
Released: December 7th, 2007
Runtime: 1 hr. 54 min.
Ticket Price: $7.50 Matinee
Refreshments: Small Cherry Coke, Large Popcorn & Red Vines
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Dakota Blue Richards, Daniel Craig, Sam Elliott & Eva Green
Director: Chris Weitz

Rating: Wait for the Rental, if Not Longer –

Synopsis: In an alternate universe, an orphan girl spends her days happily playing with local boys and hanging around a nearby college. While there one day she overhears a plot against her uncle and sets out to find what is going on with a mysterious substance known has “dust,” to rescue a kidnapped friend and find her uncle. What she finds is a frightening world of possibilities and a plot that could end her world, as well as ours.

Review: The Golden Compass is based on the first book of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy. It is this season’s big budget literature based epic. It wants to be The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings or even Harry Potter, but falls short and not just in its runtime.

Putting aside the controversy of this being the atheist version of The Chronicles of Narnia for a moment, the movie is pretty boring for an epic. Well, except for one grizzly, yet short, fight between two polar bears. Wait, can a polar bear fight be grizzly? Anyway, there was not enough depth of character provided for you to care about what might happen to them on screen.

Maybe, had the film actually been longer than its just shy of two hours running time, they might have been able to develop the characters a bit more. The movie wouldn’t have felt rushed and some sort of emotional connection with the lead characters would have been made. Background characters would have made more sense. And, it would have had a more epic feel. Unfortunately, none of these things took place and when the movie was over, the mood in the theater was quite blah. There was no energy; no I can’t wait for the next one feeling.

The story takes place in a bizarre parallel universe where witches are good, your soul is separate from your body and takes the form of an animal called a daemon (pronounced demon), animals talk and fight, and the Magisterion (a stand in for a Catholic Church like organization) steals children for their own nefarious reasons. So, if the underlying message of what’s usually considered good in this universe, is actually bad and vice-versa, is your cup of tea, then you might enjoy this flick. But, if you are looking for something substantial, with an emotional hook and great special f/x, then you might want to look elsewhere. Well, at least the computer-generated scenery is impressive.

After viewing The Golden Compass, the moviegoer compass was consulted and revealed the truth to be that you should wait for the rental, if not longer to see this movie. While the special f/x may lose a little something on your home theater system, they, by themselves, aren’t enough to warrant seeing it on the big screen. Maybe, in a parallel universe, they were treated to a much better movie epic this weekend.

What did you think of The Golden Compass?

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Jason of New Movie Friday
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