Movie: The Golden Compass

December 11, 2007

The Golden Compass – based on Philip Pullman book Northern Lights, is much hyped and much talked about. There has also been a fair about of debate about how anti-faith this is and Christians should be against this sort of thing – the most I’ve looked into this controversy was reading Simon’s article on the topic as generally I’m not going to campaign against something I don’t know about.

Poster Anyway, the movie itself is visually stunning, the mix of animation and live action superb, all special effects were fantastic and made the words entirely believable. The acting (where it was) was good – the girl that plays Lyra (and is therefore on screen most of the time) was great. Other characters came and went with little explanation: Christopher Lee is in ONE scene, Daniel Craig (the leading man) isn’t around for much longer.

However, I found the story itself was the real problem. It was a mess! Very disjointed and unclear with so many tribes, creatures, back-stories, future-prophesies, etc. all thrown at the audience in apparently random order and with so little explanation, that it just didn’t make much sense. And none of it really seemed to matter to the story of this movie but were presumably hooks to hang future story lines on for the rest of the trilogy.

For me, this movie doesn’t stand alone – it is compromised by being part of a trilogy or by trying to include too many details from the book. It is little more than an OK film, which may turn out to be better once you’ve seen the next ones or will only appeal if you’ve read the book(s). But considering how well other stories such as Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter books have transferred to the big screen I found this disappointing.

[spoiler warning – – don’t read the next bit if you plan to see the movie ]

My version of Lyra’s closing speech…

“Right, so now I’ve solved the problem of the children disappearing (and met my mum, I think), that’s not the end because, with the help of this bear, the Witch who I’ve only spoken to twice but now seems to be along for the ride and that random cowboy bloke and not forgetting my simple-sidekick friend (who knows less than me so I can explain to him what is going on) and this ferret … yes with their help I’ll rescue the bloke who turns out to be my Dad, figure out what this dust stuff is and sort out all those bad authority types to save this world and probably other ones that I don’t know about… and throw the ring into a Mount Doom … and kill Dracula… and … so is Nicole Kidman my mum? … and, hey, that music sounds like Kate Bush?”

The best thing about this film is that Kate Bush sings the song over the closing titles :- )