View Full Version : The Golden Compass

12-18-2007, 04:32 PM

I remember several years ago when this was first being developed, Chris Weitz was set to direct, and he honorably stepped down, saying he wasn't ready to direct a movie of such scope. Well he should have stood by that decision. Weitz, whose previous credits are limited to About a Boy and the Down to Earth remake, is clearly in over his head with The Golden Compass.

New Line Cinema, desperate to recapture the magic of the Lord of the Rings, seemingly forgot the formula for success. They chose a director who completely lacked the pedigree for an epic fantasy, and they crammed the cast with as many names as possible. Do they forget that the biggest name in LOTR when it first came out was Elijah Wood? Or that the biggest star on-screen in the uber-successful first Narnia film was Tilda Swinton? What is going to attract people to theatres for a fantasy film is a great story put on screen with a little magic. But with the Golden Compass, the story is dull and the magic isn't there. Pullman seems to have stolen from everything from Herbert's DUNE to Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Ende's The Neverending Story.

I wanted to like The Golden Compass, despite the brewing controversy over anti-religious subtext. But alas, this tale just couldn't draw me in the way any of these other films and books did. The story is as cold as many of the landscapes of the film. The CG is not bad but nowhere does it come close to the groundbreaking level of Gollum in Lord of the Rings. The climatic battle scene is dark and flat and uninspired, with so many greater battles having been put to film before. I blame this directly on Weitz's inexperience.

Despite all this, Nicole Kidman (always great) is a welcome presence, doing the best she can with a fairly flat character. And despite ending rather abruptly with hardly a hint of closure, I'm intrigued at what might happen next--just a little. It's really no worse than the first couple Harry Potter's, and with better talent behind the camera, that franchise has improved in subsequent installments. Unfortunately for Pullman's followers, they may not get to see the rest of the story on screen after Compass's abysmal box office. I guess I'll have to read the books instead.

6/10 or C+

12-19-2007, 12:51 AM
I read that Weitz actually stepped down first in defiance of the studio's wishes to cut out the anti-religious bits. So, maybe after they convinced him to come back he just really did try?

Just a thought..

12-19-2007, 05:56 AM
totally agree, jbrown. the whole thing tried, but failed miserably at being an epic story. i haven't read the books, but it seemed to me as if this movie didn't do any justice to the source material.


12-19-2007, 06:58 AM
I have to agree as well. I was thoroughly disappointed in this movie. It did absolutely nothing for me.

Although I did like the Polar Bears.. but that was about it.

12-19-2007, 07:26 AM
I absolutely loved this movie. But I have read the entire series and loved those. I also have a friend who was an extra in this movie so I have followed all of the ins and outs from the beginning and watched it develop. I have tons of pics from the set and stories that are great.

I despise Nicole Kidman. blah. puke.