Movie Review: The Golden Compass

Movie-goers need a fantasy fix this holiday season and the movie looking to satisfy that craving is The Golden Compass, an ambitious project based on Philip Pullman's book Northern Lights.

If you follow the novels, you will know that The Golden Compass is based on the first of three books of the His Dark Materials trilogy and this film shows it-- the movie raises a lot of questions that are not answered in the movie. Apart from the unsatisfying conclusion, the movie seems to be juggling a lot of new introductions for the viewer since understanding the world it is presenting is a bit complicated. Yes, knowing what the Golden Compass is very easy from the movie, but the whole back story of why it is relevant in the story is totally different matter.

What I did find great about the movie are the rich visuals. Since it serves the introduction for the two other sequels, the Golden Compass succeeds as a tour of the world where magic and technology meld and a glimpse of the different races (e.g. the scholars, the authority, the pirates, etc). The cast is also superb, with Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Eva Green and Dakota Blue Richards taking the main roles. Fantasy film staples like Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen are also playing minor roles.

The cast alone should have made the people flock to the cinemas this holiday season, but the box-office results have been tepid. The film is too thinly spread and I found the movie too busy with a lot of things going on. If The Golden Compass were a console Role-Playing Game, I would have been engrossed with it, but as a film, it makes me want to read the novel.

Merry Christmas!

Rating: 2/5

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