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Plot: In a parallel universe, young Lyra Belacqua journeys to the far North to save her best friend and other kidnapped children from terrible experiments by a mysterious organization. Runtime: 113 mins Release Date: 07 Dec 2007
Hugely enjoyable and entertaining, Only a slight let down. (by Mr-Subtle-Mouth)
I watched the film expecting the worst and I was surprised. The film opens in cinematic fashion with a voice-over by Eva Green explaining dust and parallel worlds. I think it was digestible for anyone who is a non-familiar. Next we move into our own world, the true Oxford of London. Then in a seamless and beautiful effect, a wave of light shimmers across the screen, and we enter Lyra's Oxford like something out of Doctor Who. It's a visually stunning opening that suggests great things lie ahead. Next we are thrown into a wild children romp like something out of Lord of the Flies, <more>
with Lyra, Roger and pals against the Gyptian kids. And here enters the star of this movie - Dakota Blue Richards. From the start to the end she perfectly embodies all the cheek, all the inquisitiveness, all the curiosity, all the fight, all the courage and all the heart of Lyra. I think she is the heart of the movie and the best thing in it. In the Oxford section of the story is some of the best scenes in the movie. No big action sequences just intimate moments between the characters. Lyra and Rogers respect for each other is made abundantly clear. Daniel Craig is on superior form as he presents his findings at Jordan college. And Mrs Coulters entrance and icy exchange with the Master, sent chills down my spine. Kidman delivers the line, "Let me deal with Asriel" with such unbelievable venom. Nicole Kidman has been burdened by a few flops recently. I can report the iconic actress is back where she belongs. She is sinister and stunningly beautiful in equal measure. I thought the movie was going down a path of perfection right up until Lyra's escape scene. This is where the story starts moving very quickly. To illustrate my point; Lyra runs away, gets attacked, is saved by the Gyptians, asks the Gyptians to take her North and its all aboard the ship in about the space of 15 minutes. This is all very exciting and full of adrenaline but as a book fan, i don't understand why they are in such a hurry. The movie continues to move along at a quick pace barely giving you time to breath. Its really a good thing and a bad thing. You could say it's a good thing because as a result it holds your interest. However non book readers would be easily lost if they decide on a 2 minute toilet break. I'm a fan of thrillers so I like frantic and quick paced, however in the case of this movie it would have been nice if they had just slowed things down now and again, because like the Oxford scenes proved, intimacy between characters is Weitz strong suit. I also thought there where scenes missing, like it was filmed to be longer, but either by Weitz hand or by New Lines, some scenes where lost. One such scene is Lyra crossing the Ice Bridge. People who have read the book will know that Lyra crosses the bridge in pursuit of Lord Asriel and Roger. In the film this bridge now leads to Bolvanger. But it was evident to me that when they filmed the scene, it was still leading to Lord Asriel and was intended as a farewell scene to Iorek. Overall the scene I loved the most was the Bear Fight. Though I had one complaint. While the animation of Iorek and Ragnar is astounding, unfortunately a few of the surrounding bears who watch the fight appear to have been rushed and not given the same time as Iorek and Ragnar. Though most of the time your attention will be focused on the fight. All the Oxford scenes are pure perfection, the scene of Lyra riding Iorek and finding the severed form of Billy Costa is brief but chillingly effective, the battle at Bolvanger which is suitably brutal and action packed and the final scene. While I still missed the books climax, the movies end is still satisfying. On board Scoresby's balloon we are treated to a heart wrenching scene between Lyra and Roger. Roger exclaims with all his sincerity that he would travel to the ends of the world with Lyra, and Lyra says just let them try and stop us. Book familiars will know why this is heart wrenching, because we all know Rogers fate. The films conclusion worked because the re-union of Lyra and Roger was emotionally satisfying, but I think the books climax would have lifted it to greater strenghts. What I didn't like; it was too short, Kidman and Craig don't really get enough screen time, Mckellens voice, rushed at times, evidently missing scenes and the Magesterium just isn't sinister enough. Its a fantastic fantasy adventure that will be enjoyed by most. Its just aggravating knowing that it could have been even better. I also think it is infinitely better than both Narnia and Potters first cinema outings. How - Well the Daemons are so much more full of life than the talking creatures of Narnia. If you have a good eye you will notice that the Daemons are rarely ever static or simply shot fillers in a scene. They are alive. The original material of the book is much better realised and visualised than Potter. But they are not the most important reasons. For me it is the young lead s that makes the difference. The Potter trio were not great and the Narnia kids were agonising. But Dakota Blue Richards Is excellent. She is the heart and soul of it.FINAL VERDICT: A hugely enjoyable, entertaining movie,astounding visual effects, perfect performances and action packed. If it had been 30 minutes longer, book ending kept , more screen time for Kidman and Craig and less meddling from New Line, it would have been a masterpiece!!4/5 8/10
As Good as it Gets, Despite imperfections. (by Shilshadu)
It is obvious from the very beginning that New Line interfered with the overall formula of the story. The book/movie puzzle is nearly complete, but a few pieces are still missing... And NO, it does NOT promote atheism, for the LAST time!First off, it opens up in our world, with Eva Green giving a brief description of Dust and other worlds. It's useful, especially for non-fans. Then transitions into Lyra's Oxford. The beginning has some of the most memorable scenes, if not best scenes, of the film. My reasoning is not because of action, but of the pure heart of it. Sure, it strays some <more>
from the book, but book/movie translations have never been perfect, just ask a potter fan. The first hour is basic character development, and wraps you completely into the world of Lyra's Oxford. The movie does this effectively, and the daemons are so full of life it's like their real! Don't get me wrong, the A-list actors are great, despite short screen time, but the daemons steal the show. Not just the daemons, but the animals as well. Iorek, for example, is one of the most proud, strong characters i've ever seen. It fits the book's vision of him perfectly, if not better. Now, more to the plot of the film, Lyra leaves for the North with the beautifully malevolent Mrs. Coulter after Roger disappears, and escapes after finding her to be the leader of the Gobblers. Yes, Gobblers, in the trailer Lyra said 'magisterium', rest assured, it's gobblers in the film. also, it's 'alethiometer' in the film. You fans can let the weight off your shoulders. After leaving Mrs. Coulter, she is attacked, then saved by the gyptians. She pleads with them to go north, to save the kids at bolvangar, and winds up on the boat, all within a short screen time. It seemed fast-paced, but not so much as to seem rushed. In the book, it was fast-paced as well, and it was properly transitioned. When she finally reaches the north, she hires the panserbjorne, or armoured bear, Iorek Byrnison, in some of the most visually satisfying scenes of the film. As I said, Iorek was crafted wonderfully, and the voice actor did an excellent job of capturing his power. In the next half hour, Lyra's at bolvangar, after crossing the bridge, they have the battle there, save the kids, yadda yadda. soon she's with Iorek, after tricking Ragnar, not Iofur, and the two bears fight in another visually satisfying scene. The movie soon ends with her and roger being reunited in an emotional finale. Yes, the last three chapters were cut out, but it didn't take away from the movie. The good news is that we'll see those cut scenes in the Subtle Knife, because its confirmed they've started filming. Because they've invested so much, they can't possibly not do a follow up. The Good: Satisfying, visually, mentally, metaphysically whatever that means follows the book pretty well. Actors are great, world is full of life. Lyra's the heart of most scenes. Overreacting religious groups will have nothing too complain about with this movie. it's relatively clean. Guess they'll have to boycott I Am Legend instead, for it's post-apocalyptic views....The Bad: Does seem a bit rushed at points, could've slowed down during the fast paced latter half of the movie. Magisterium wasn't dark enough. A few backgrounds feel generic. Obviously, some beloved scenes in the book didn't make the final cut, who knew??? Overall: the best fantasy film making around, it looks like New Line has another hit on its shoulders. Definitely worth a watch.
A wondrous fount of discovery, globetrekking, storytelling... (by namster)
In short, the movie is excellent. It is a flawed picture, with the most unfortunate knife job of any film in motion picture history, but all things considered it is an excellent picture nonetheless. This parallel Earth is a fount of discovery and globetrekking and storytelling despite having no ending and more surgical cuts to its artistic freedom than the Lakota commercial guy. It's definitely not The Lord of the Rings on any level of ambition and it shouldn't have to be; it's a simpler pleasure. The Philip Pullman readership should be proud to have fanship over the most colorful <more>
and intelligent and infernal fantasy series the world has seen -- with a science fiction gloss, post-modern morality, theological jigsaws, and even quantum mechanics. This film will surely get new audiences to the bookstore and provides good value to old fans too.Any misgivings I have with The Golden Compass adaptation stem from cuts made by its studio, and when I say "cuts" I mean the kind that makes art bleed internally. This was a knife job for the ages. Newcomer director Chris Weitz -- presumably with a gun to his back -- reluctantly trimmed a nearly 3-hour epic down to 2 hours. Given the awful circumstances in which this movie was created, it really is quite amazing what Chris Weitz managed to salvage. The Golden Compass succeeds surprisingly well for a motion picture that has suffered more physical insults to its body than Jake La Motta. It could be better, but by that same argument it also could be a lot worse. It lacked a lot, but there was no lack of Chris Weitz's respect for the books. It's better to have a nice film that feels half-finished than a finished film that makes no sense.Pacing is the first casualty in these running-time cuts; you will laugh at how fast it throws the story in your face, guaranteed. Weitz is forced to breeze by some of the author's more interesting ideas in his rush to clock in at 2 hours, but he does it in such a way as to make you interested in reading up more about it later, to pick up a book and fork over some money. You say, "That's an odd idea. How bizarre. I wonder what it could mean! How exciting." Pullman's mystical concepts stud this universe with mysteries that invite exploration. Yes, a lot of nifty ideas are glossed over in a sweat but Weitz keeps your curiosity on the plate, and that's the biggest fish to fry. Keep it in perspective, you with the kaleidescope eyes.Given that nearly an hour of the film was cut, a lot of subtext from the novel is missing -- but that happens to all adaptations. The important point is that Weitz is a great fan of the books and he kept in more than enough of the story to make a good movie. His love of the books is his greatest asset and those elements that do make it into the film are deftly explained in no time at all. It is frequently argued that between the two of them Peter Jackson is the superior filmmaker, and in many ways they're right: he is. But Weitz's film has a more generous heart owing to the colorful universe that author Philip Pullman paints; he uses daemons to highlight character relationships and gives flesh to his heroine Lyra. A nobody perhaps, but Weitz has sense enough to eschew Jackson's melodrama and just put a heart at the center of his film, simply. It's been argued that the battles in this movie are bereft of danger. Does that matter? I didn't pay ten dollars to watch that fight anyways, I wanted to see the beginnings of an infinitely inventive, shapeshifting, physics-spanning adventure with an atheist bent. In many ways Philip Pullman himself eschews battlefields our AntiTolkien , prefering to consolidate psychological and intellectual wars. Fans ought to be glad for the faithfulness of Weitz's script to the books. Author Philip Pullman is purring in his comforter as we speak, and for good reason because his brainchild is in good hands.Actress Dakota Blue Richards IS Lyra. It feels as if Weitz cut a hole in the fabric of space-time, found Lyra, pulled her into our world through a window in the other universe, dressed her up in trousers and a T-shirt and passed her off as Dakota Blue Richards. Her lack of any acting experience she more than makes up for with -- as she puts it -- her desire to just "be" Lyra. This is a girl happy to be Lyra, happy to play make-believe with her Pantaliamon and to befriend armored bears, and so refreshing in her grasp of the character's tics. She carries the endearing feminism-lite of His Dark Materials to a small measure of apotheosis, with no pomp nor ambition. This child -- almost effortlessly -- makes smoked meat sandwich out of the entire cast of Harry Potter, makes jellied meat out of Mortensen and Bloom, cooks Elijah Wood over a spitting fire.A flawed movie? Absolutely, but one that deserves our respect for the strengths that it does have. And these are important strengths, strengths that are lacking in so-called "better" mainstream pictures. I forgive any and all problems with this film translation simply because it is so strong on other points. There's discovery, metaphysical wonder, earnest characterizations, and enough plot to stun a golden monkey in this more-faithful-than-most adaptation. Keep an open mind, there's a lot to love in this movie.Namster
A Noble Effort, an almost triumph -- May the Box Office Reward It (by john-quel)
I went into this film fearing the worst. I had become concerned over the past months as it became increasingly clear that the film was at great risk of losing direction, the vision if you will, that had drawn readers to the books series in the first place. That it was doomed. I feared this strange kind of anti-Narnia, was likely being so diluted that BO disaster was certain. That may still be the case if the bulk of early reviews are to be believed but see Ebert's all-out glowing review. Admittedly, the movie probably works better if you have read the first book I had , but those <more>
readers are precisely the people who would likely complain the most. I worried and yet . . .Despite its breathtaking pace, both in terms of action and concept introduction -- we all agree this is not your typical fantasy -- the Golden Compass worked for me. I thought the people involved had done the best they could in making this movie tell the story, making the best possible film despite the conflict and panic that must have gone into it. The sincerity shows. The cast is superb, the action sequences, the effects, the sheer look of the film, are triumphs. I stayed through all the credits, which seemed to last for almost as long as the movie, and good gracious, what a lot of people worked on this! It's expensive all right, but the money is all on the screen. These people should be saluted.Dakota Blue Richards it appears if you want your daughter to have a movie career these days, you had best name her Dakota in a great year for the debut of young actresses, stands out as the best of them. She has poise, indomitable courage, fierce determination and it just keeps coming. The whole movie depends on her and if she had faltered, they truly would have had a disaster on their hands, a "calender" movie with no where to go and nothing to do. Whatever the ultimate financial fate of the film, I think young Miss Richards has a great future ahead of her.So I am recommending the film highly, though I respect the objections that have been made against it. I think if people just relax and go with it they will find themselves enjoying it immensely. However, if you grit your teeth and go into critic mode, yep, you guess it, you won't enjoy it at all.As for myself, I would have liked the producers to have gone with the original extended version - everyone knows the last few minutes were cut. Moreover, with a full three hour version just like "Lord of the Rings," I think all the objections would have been met. A director's cut will likely appear some day and I think at that point people will realize how great this movie truly is. Such an enhanced cut would fill in a lot of the details of this world, more fully develop the scenes and characters, and truly give a feeling of being part of the adventure, instead of just watching it. Of course, for the Golden Compass series, by then it may well be too late.Here's hoping it's not I dare not say praying . Here's hoping that audiences will respond so this noble beginning of a great philosophical adventure and permit it to continue.It's all bottom line at this point, folks.
We went to the sneak preview showing with two small children 5 and 7 . We really enjoyed the movie, though the pg-13 rating is pretty accurate! The only thing that really got to us was the noise--much like the Transformers movie-the "sounds" that accompany some of the "actions" seem not only out of place, but genuinely annoying and in super movie theater surround sound it is just amplified .As far as controversy, I do see where this film strikes nerves. However-it is so deep in fantasy, that it is difficult to see it as anything more. My little ones didn't miss a <more>
trick and followed the film well, but neither bought into it anti-Christian-both thought it was a well played "story".It is definitely a "made for sequel" production and I think my family will be first in line for part 2.
Disclaimer: Spoilers ahead.Prior to watching the premiere of 'The Golden Compass' in Odeon, Leicester Sq, I had never read the book nor heard of the writer who wrote it. It was only recently after seeing a trailer of it on television was I keen to seeing the film. As for its rumoured Atheist-theme, I beg to differ. After all, it is entirely fiction! The film, I must say was brilliant! Characters played by both Richards and Kidman was splendid. The tomboyish and somewhat ragamuffin Lyra seemed like one of those characters you read about in story books; rough around the edges but a <more>
diamond in the rough, and perhaps someone you'll trust and want to be friends with for life. As for Coulter, her'exquisite' cold nature that exudes from her was just enough to make you wonder what is really going on in her mind; and yet you don't want to know. I kept wondering what her real intentions were and if they were all really that bad; it seemed to me that there was more to her than meets the eye.The fight between the two bears was amazing. I love the part when Ragnar says 'Is that all?' after which Iorek leaps at him and cracks his neck with one deadly snap and twist. Almost military-like. And suddenly, the audience in Odeon cheer.For cinematography and location, I found the northern theme somewhat pleasing, in terms of how it perfectly accentuated the surreal and frigid but magical winter environment. There was the familiar chill of the weather to it, and yet it was enthralling.One quirk, I noted was how Lyra read the compass. I had initially expected more in the reader's ability to decipher the compass's ways. Instead, all the girl did was explained 3 of the many symbols surrounding the compass, in a child-like perspective. Needless to say, perhaps, it was this plain innocence that propelled the quest for the truth.It was sad when Billy's daemon, your soul in form of an animal which is part of you and vice versa Ratta was ripped apart from him. From this scene, I gathered that daemons are indeed an essential part of you and if it were lost, it represented your soul or at least an essential part of it. It could be innocence or even hope. Looking into his eyes, it was as if he was already dead. There was no life in them and I almost felt towards his situation.All in all, the movie is a delight for everyone. And even for those, such as myself, who have not read the book, the plot is easy to grasp; slowing sucking you into the magical world of a parallel universe and there are a few. It is an adventure story of sorts; a mixture of Harry Potter, Narnia and Lord of the Rings, where your souls are daemons. Almost makes me wonder, what'd mine be. And in case you were curious, its Erasmus - a jackal daemon.A definite Christmas MUST-SEE! I'm definitely buying the trilogy!
Really fun, engaging and fast moving fantasy spectacle (by motta80-2)
I went in cynical about this, especially after the travesty that was the Narnia film, but i was quickly converted: it's great fun. A really entertaining and immersive film that intelligently builds a fantastical world that the uninitiated can marvel and thrill in. I have to say i haven't read the books so can't comment on a book to film comparison.On the cast, I don't know how it works in the book but the adults are barely in this. Nicole has the most significant work and Sam Elliott, while a late arrival, is a great presence once he's around. However Daniel Craig and Eva <more>
Green are barely in it and Christopher Lee has one blink-and-you'll miss him scene. That said the casting is excellent. Green is suitably witchy and Craig makes an impact in his one/two dialogue scenes early on which, along with a couple of wordless inserts of his storyline, put him enough into your mind to wonder about him. He feels set up for a more significant role in future instalments. Elliott is great. That sonorous voice sneaking out from underneath that bushy moustache feels exactly right for Lee Scorsby.Kidman is perfect. There's something indelibly creepy about her rigid manner that works for the elegant but sinister Mrs Coulter. Meanwhile Simon McBurney is magnificently slimy and loathsome as the magisterium main face. You know he's a villain from the moment he enters frame.Dakota Blue Richards is a great find as Lara. While the first two Potter films and Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe were significantly hampered by the incredibly mannered, unrealistic, wooden acting of the young leads most of the Potter cast got better, time will tell on Narnia Richards is a winner from the outset. Precocious and feisty without seeming too forced she is generally believable whether is her rebellion or her loyalty. This is just as well as the film is really entirely on her shoulders. It will work or not for people based on whether you like her. She's in virtually every scene and has a lot of different emotions to get across as well as having to have significant interaction with CGI creations like her spirit animal Pan the ubiquitous Freddie Highmore and the polar bear played by Ian McKellen. She has a couple of slightly actorly moments but does incredibly well for a first timer under this kind of pressure.Of the voice-only cast McKellen is a perfect choice for the honourable polar bear while Highmore is either getting less annoying or it's just beneficial not being able to see him, as he is nicely understated as Pan. My only note on this casting would be once or twice I couldn't tell is Lyra or Pan was speaking in their interaction as in quiet moments Highmore and Richards' voices are remarkably similar!The effects are good but not great. I had worried they'd be as weak as Narnia and they aren't. The world is beautifully created and always feels real, whether Scorsby's flying ship or the blimp thing from the trailer, or stunning Arctic landscapes and big cities. The smaller creatures are also brilliantly rendered, Pan in particular. Some of the bigger creatures are less perfect. The polar bears have a cartoony unreal feel but in a fantasy setting with battle armour and stuff they work well enough. Certainly better than Aslan in Narnia. However the leopard creature with Daniel Craig doesn't look right at all.As for the film itself it really zips along quickly. The uninitiated like me may occasionally lose track of what's going on early on as strange terms and names are thrown back and forth but it soon settles down and makes sense. Rather than frustrating me that I might be missing key elements of what this world was about I felt happy going with it and was left thinking I'll watch it again when it's released just to be sure I didn't miss anything. It's a relief to see a fantasy film that brings it in at almost exactly two hours and has a cracking momentum, as opposed to the seemingly endless drag of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Narnia. Don't get me wrong taking time can work. I really liked Fellowship of the Ring but the pace of the Potters really tests my patience. Golden Compass moves so fast before you know it it's over and it leaves you wanting more. Indeed at the end of this film I could say it had succeeded in doing something the Potter franchise has never done: it left me desperate to see the next one.However what really made me like this film more than those others is the tone and some of the things they do in it. There are moments in this, that i won't spoil for those like me who didn't know the plot, that really surprised me that they'd do in a family film.A big fight scene between polar bears and the end battle are suitably exciting and i found myself really invested. I cared about the characters. Whereas in Narnia they hadn't done enough to make you care about Aslan's fate criminal given how effectively the book and the 80s BBC TV serial managed it this really has you on the edge of your seat for the good guys.Overall I really liked Golden Compass and would give it an 8/10 compared to LOTR 10/10, 9/10, 7/10 for the series, Potter 5/10, 6/10, 8/10, 7/10, 7/10 for the series and Narnia 4/10. I will be watching this again when it comes out something I never did for Potter or Narnia and am looking forward to the next instalment. I hope Daniel Craig and Eva Green get bigger roles in the next film, but all round a great start to a potential franchise that I had middling hopes for.
I am about 2 thirds of the way through the book when I decided to go to the limited engagement sneak preview of The Golden Compass. I feel that the film exceeded my expectations regardless of the structure change made by the film adaptation.The story was changed moderately, but not too much to take away from the mood of the book, and was in no way detrimental to the flow of the story. Otherwise, this movie was a roller-coaster ride from beginning to end! The effects exceeded my expectations. The flow of the daemons in the film was almost completely convincing, however there were times when <more>
the speech of the animals had that typical "computer animated falseness" that you see in the cg cartoons. Other than some minor CG blemishes, the realism is some of the most convincing I have seen! The polar bear is completely lifelike and the animal morphing I felt was simply spectacular.The flow of the film is very fast, which is a negative and a positive. While it really leaves us guessing or feeling unfulfilled in some of the crucial story elements, it also sets the pace for an exhilarating fast-paced adventure story that keeps you on the edge! The broad range of characters prevents the film from truly developing the characters that we really WANT to know. Since the book is a 3 part series, hopefully these characters will develop further in the next 2 films.I must say that there were several parts in this film that surprised me, considering this is marketed as a family film. This is a dark film. This could frighten some small kids. I feel this film definitely belongs in the pg-13 rating, and might even be a bit much for a 13 year old for the more sheltering type parents. Not only can it be conceived as very violent, there are some very adult themes that could be considered questionable.Overall, this is a film I would like to see again, and I am DYING to see the next film in the series. I walked out of this film excited, satisfied and wanting more. Might want to leave the young ones at home, but you won't regretting fighting for front row seats on a Friday night for this flick.
For some strange reason, a theater in the middle of the cornfield in Indiana had a sneak preview of the Golden Compass, and being a fan of the books I decided to take advantage of it. I wasn't sure what I was getting into, as there seems to be a rather large glut of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings wannabes crowding theaters now and in the near future. This version of the Golden Compass beautifully brings the books to life and was very pleasing to watch with rather nice visuals. The acting is quite good, especially from the young lead, and the animation makes one wonder what they <more>
can't do with computers these days. The only true complaint I have about this movie is that it is difficult to understand and follow if one is not familiar with the books. Some scenes at the beginning seems disconnected, but after the halfway point the story comes together. The Golden Compass series is rather dark in its nature, and I'm glad that the movie didn't pull any punches with the supernatural combat which is awesome, specifically when the witches and bears do battle . Some liberty is taken with the story as expected, and many church references are renamed, but the quality of the story never suffers. I recommend the movie and I look forward to seeing the rest of the trilogy completed.