In a parallel universe, young Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) journeys to the far North to save her best friend and other kidnapped children from terrible experiments by a mysterious organization.
Bond, Nicole Kidman, Eva Green and an overgrown talking Polar bear in armour? OK, I'm interested; having never read Phillip Pullman's popular, controversial fantasy 'His Dark Materials', I was going into this adaptation (the first in his trilogy) with minimal prior knowledge, and though I wasn't exactly overwhelmed or won over, 'The Golden Compass', though heavy on exposition / sequel set ups, has it moments and isn't quite as bad as some make it out to be. Hyped as a grand, metaphysical battle between religious fundamentalism and secular reason, 'The Golden Compass' is more like one convoluted, Tolkein-esque scrap in a chapter of that old, long settled, civil war: Christianity vs. Freemasonry. 12-year-old orphan Lyra (newcomer Dakota Blue Richards) steps up as our pint sized heroine; encountering numerous characters and their daemons (i.e. animal counterparts) allied with her uncle Lord Asriel (bearded, brooding Daniel Craig & Snow Leopard). An August Buxton Comte figure, Asriel comes into direct conflict with 'The Magisterium' (an all powerful, Vatican-esque entity intent on stealing Children's souls) after an Arctic expedition hints at the discovery of golden dust (i.e. Monatomic Gold) that may open up a portal to parallel worlds. Lyra soon finds herself in possession of a rare Alethiometer (i.e. Golden Compass), her best friend is kidnapped (rendered to 'The Magisterium' gulag in Antarctica) and things take a turn for the fantastical, after a fateful meeting with 'Magisterium' shill Marisa Coulter (an excellent Nicole Kidman). 'The Magistarium's' clerical elite are represented by Fra Pavel (Simon McBurney); an odious vicar created in accordance with the Masonic representation of Cardinal Ottiboni, satirised persecutor of Freemasonry, fantasy fans should also look out for an appearance by the legend Christopher Lee. Stunning French starlet Eva Green also crops up in an exposition heavy role, and her Serafina character reminded me of Sera the Canaanite from cult short story '10 Nails', director Chris Weitz ('About A Boy') doesn't really make the most of his cast, and it often feels that the fantasy epic is perhaps too big a genre for the man best known for 'American Pie'. Nicole Kidman's Mrs Coulter, an exciting polar bear fight and reasonably good battle royal finale are the high points; Kidman's Coulter is a lot like Cruella De Ville (only fit) with a dash of Barbra Stanwick 'Double Indemnity'-esque malice thrown in for good measure. Daniel Craig is less of a bore here then he usually is, in fact, its probably his best role since 'Enduring Love'. In order to be 'a' anything, one has to recognise the root of negation i.e. morality must exist for one to be amoral, and God must be acknowledged in order for a pejorative epithet like atheist to make any sense; which is why atheists would be a lot more fun if they simply declared themselves in open rebellion against God (which is more or less what I'm told Pullman's books are about). And though militant atheistic propaganda may be a tad unsuitable for young children, Pullman could just as easily argue that C.S. Lewis's 'Narnia' series indoctrinates our youth by selling them on ideas like Christian superiority or righteous crusade against the other. I'm of the opinion that neither message should obstruct or be the primary narrative drive for any movie, nonetheless, 'The Golden Compass' strings together a few decent sequences and its quite similar to Matthew Vaughn's mediocre adaption of Neil Gaiman's 'Stardust'. Mildly entertaining fluff, but its no 'Pan's Labyrinth'.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. 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.
Big-budget children's fantasy adventure adapted from the first instalment of Philip Pullman's 'His Dark Materials' trilogy. Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards), a twelve year-old girl living in an Oxford somewhat dissimilar to the one we're used to, goes off in search of a friend who has been kidnapped by 'the Gobblers'. In this alternate world, where a person's soul appears outside the body in the form of an animal called a 'daemon', and witches and talking bears co-exist, a shadowy organisation called the 'Magisterium' controls the population, keeping them in check. As she embarks on her quest to find her friend, Lyra is soon involved in an epic battle against the forces of darkness in a desperate attempt to save her world.