The Golden Compass

Monday, August 25, 2008


I first noticed The Golden Compass at the 2007 Comic Con, and what first struck me was the exquisite use of color and the softness of each still. After a few months, I started hearing the controversy surrounding the religious (or should I say, "non-religious") themes apparent in the story. It turns out that the author of The Golden Compass novel, from which this film is based, was atheist. GASP! Oh the horror! His children's fantasy novel must be filled with immoralities, immodesties, and most importantly, anti-Christian tendencies. We have to boycott! ::rolls eyes:: After watching this film, these are definitely over-reactions to a analytically atheistic story, and this movie's influence is no worse than High School Musical with its promotion of popular teens possessing ridiculously, unattainable beauty.

Lyra is a young girl who lives in a dimension where there are three species; humans, polar bears, and witches. Humans each have a deamon which takes the the shape of an animal and is essentially a manifestation of the human's soul. There's also a thing called Dust - I still don't know what it is. I'm guessing it has something to do with corrupting mankind. Lyra is left behind by her uncle when he goes on a trip, and while he's gone, she finds herself in the middle of an adventure; traveling on a flying ship, befriending an exiled polar bear, and rescuing her best friend from deamon separation all with the aide of a alethiometer.

Visually dazzling, The Golden Compass is compelling and filled with youthful wonder and black and white morality, but its dark and sinister tones created complexities and intrigue. Dakota Blue Richards brings feistiness and courage to Lyra's character, and the world that Philip Pullman created is shared with a generation that may not have known it. However, though an adequate adaption to the novel, the film does not stand on its own. The ending is left open, (presumably for a sequel) with many, many question unanswered, but as of today, there have been no plans to complete the film trilogy. So what will happen to Lyra? What is Dust? This flick felt like the second movie in a series rather than the first, and because of this cinematic choice to tell the story in this way, it becomes a mediocre flick. There's really no excuse to leave so many plot holes.

Its always great to watch a children's fantasy film. It's imaginative, innocent, and usually filled with not-too-bloody action scenes. Yet in this particular instance, I was left unsatiated. Bring on the next installment, and I'll revisit.

Movie Review by Jenn Bollish at 1:28 PM  

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