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The Golden Compass
Movie Stats & Links

Starring: Nicole Kidman, Dakota Blue Richards, Sam Elliott, Eva Green, Daniel Craig
MPAA Rated: PG-13
Released By: New Line Cinema
Web Site:
Kiddie Movie: They might just be confused by the story or freaked out by the violence.
Date Movie: Only if she likes talking animals.
Gratuitous Sex: Nope.
Gratuitous Violence: Lots of it, but you don't see blood, just exploding daemons.
Action: Mostly fighting.
Laughs: Not really.
Memorable Scene: The Ice Bear fight scene was pretty cool.
Memorable Quote: None.
Directed By: Chris Weitz
Produced By: Bill Carraro, Deborah Forte

The Golden Compass
A Movie Review

MPAA Rated - PG-13

It's 1:53 Long

A Review by
The Dude on the Right
After seeing "The Golden Compass" my initial thought was 2 stars out of 5, but I had seen some of the taglines on the movie ad spouting its greatness, saw some brief reviews touting it as an epic film, and wondered if I had missed something. I also walked out of the theater wondering if I fell asleep or something because I could have sworn there was scene in the trailer showing the lead character, Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards), falling out of a flying ship but didnít remember seeing it in the movie. I know some things get cut, but that scene seemed pretty important.

So before I began writing this review I tried to do some investigating and found out some things. One was that after reading some of the reviews saying the movie was great I still couldnít figure out why the reviewer thought so. The other was that for whatever reasons the film folks moved some of the scenes out of order with the book and cut the exciting, climactic ending to the first book of the trilogy, leaving a "happy" ending. Huh? If this seems confusing, Iíll at least do my best to explain the story.

Weíre introduced to a world somewhat similar to our own, only whereas we have souls/personalities/an inner voice that tends to guide our actions, in this world that soul/personality/inner voice is manifested in a talking animal, called a daemon, who follows you around for your life.  If you die your daemon dies, and vice-versa.  Well it seems that the old people in charge, called the Magisterium, are beginning to worry about the youth and their free spirits and free thoughts, so they are trying to find a way to separate the daemon from the child, without killing the kid, so that the kids will follow whatever crap the Magisterium feeds them. Leading the charge is Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman), who leads the research.

Okay, so what about this Lyra girl? Well her Uncle, or it might be her dad, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig), might have found a way that people can travel between parallel worlds, for example, from their world with the daemons to our world without them, thanks to some magic dust, and heís off on a research trip to figure it out. While gone, though, Lyra is given this Golden Compass thing which if you twist some dials and look into it and ask it a question, it will give a glimpse of the future or something in the past. Running from the evil clutches of Mrs. Coulter, Lyra ends up under the watchful eyes of the Gyptians who are on a quest to rescue their stolen children, helping an Ice Bear named Iorek (voiced by Ian McKellen) who is now indebted to Lyra, and making the acquaintance of a witch named Serefina (Eva Green).

Clear as mud, isnít it?

I suppose if you really want to know the story your better bet is to read the book (or at least the Wikipedia entry) than my review, or any other review for that matter, and even seeing the movie seems confusing mostly because, since they cut out the ending of the first book, the movie seems incomplete.

Acting-wise Dakota Blue Richards is okay as the little girl, Lyra, looking to be an independent spirit and now realizing she is important to the future of the world. Nicole Kidman shows she can be an evil bitch, but Daniel Craig and Sam Elliott or totally underused, maybe because the movie folks also seemed to do everything they could to keep the movie under two hours. Hereís the thing Ė If your intent is to make an epic movie you might want to actually look up the meaning of the word? The more complex everything is the more time it will take to develop the characters and the story, and "The Golden Compass" spends too much of its time trying to look epic without actually being epic.

When the first trailer for "The Golden Compass" came out they tried to promote the trilogy, quoting the similarity to "The Lord of the Rings," but at itís core "The Lord of the Rings" had a simple concept exploding into a grandiose scale. The concept behind "The Golden Compass" isnít simple at all and Iíll tell you what, I donít want to sit in a movie, be that confused, and not get a conclusion.

After it all Iím actually knocking down my rating a bit, so Iím giving "The Golden Compass" 1 Ĺ stars out of 5. Odd as this is for me to say I think the movie should have actually pushed for the 2 Ĺ, or even 3, hour mark, if only to give a little more story development and stick to at least the timeline of events the Wikipedia entry summarized (I wondered why Iorek the Ice Bear didnít bring Ice Bear nation with him to rescue the stolen children, now I know).

Thatís it for this one! Iím The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!


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