The Golden Compass
2007
After overhearing a shocking secret, precocious orphan Lyra Belacqua trades her carefree existence roaming the halls of Jordan College for an otherworldly adventure in the far North, unaware that it's part of her destiny.

Scott Hardie: “It sucked.”

Plenty of fantasy movies have thrown together unlike elements. The same year as this film, Stardust combined airship pirates with evil witches and talking stars with medieval princes. Theoretically, there's nothing wrong with The Golden Compass tossing together airship cowboys, good witches, truth-telling compasses, animal familiars, intelligent extradimensional dust, talking polar bears, gypsy scholars, robotic wasps, and a mountain of other bullshit. It's that it introduces each new element so arbitrarily and without any sense of wonder; the characters simply accept talking polar bears who are mad about their stolen body armor as if they're all over the place. Superhero movies aren't a bright genre on average, but at least their characters usually remember to show a sense of wonderment at the amazing events they're involved in. These characters have zero personality and zero emotional investment in their plight, which doesn't exactly inspire us to care what happens either. The movie becomes a series of increasingly ridiculous story elements only appealing for their camp value; the filmmakers obviously worked very hard at producing something joylessly devoid of entertainment value. Who in their right mind thought this would launch a franchise?

− May 30, 2008 • more by Scottlog in or create an account to reply

Allison Bair: Have you read the book? I wonder (if you haven't) if it would change your mind at all. I really liked the book this movie was based on, and all the weird elements you mention work great in the context of the story IMO. I put the movie on possible rent-it status after watching an underwhelming trailer and deciding it probably wouldn't be worth seeing in a theater. − June 14, 2008

Scott Hardie: I have not read it, just the synopsis on Wikipedia. I suspect that the fantastic elements of the book are handled with a stronger sense of wonder and discovery, and perhaps their nature is more suggested than real. The movie has to be more literal and maybe it lost something. − June 14, 2008 • more by Scott

Lori Lancaster: The movie wasn't that bad. Granted, I'm not too keen on how they 'ended' it, but I suppose given what was going to happen next, it was as good a place as any. If anything, the movie made me search out the books. We checked it out on an inter-library loan and watched it at home with the kids. I skipped ahead to the last three chapters of the book -which is where the movie supposedly stopped, and read. Now after reading that, I started over again at the beginning. I've seen worse movies -the royal tenenbaums (sp) being one of them. I hope the next one is better. I hear that the movie had its soul zapped compared to what it was in the book. − July 18, 2008 • more by Lori

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