The Golden Compass

Film

Fantasy films

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Time Out rating:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>2</span>/5

User ratings:

<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>3</span>/5
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Time Out says

Posted: Wed Nov 28 2007

Bland, bloodless and bereft of magic, New Line’s corporate sanitisation of Philip Pullman’s exciting, provocative fantasy novel, ‘The Northern Lights’, strips the book of its humanity and soul.

Just as the church-like Magisterium and the glacially glamorous Mrs Coulter (Nicole Kidman) are rumoured to be severing pre-pubescent children from their animal daemons (an external ‘familiar’ representing their inner soul), so this clinical dissection of Pullman’s vividly imagined parallel world cuts away the warm flesh and leaves only the bare bones.

The skeleton of the plot remains, albeit in a compacted, confusing form.

While zeppelins float above an alternate Oxford’s dreaming spires, wilful 12-year-old orphan Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) swears to rescue her kitchen-boy friend Roger from his child-cutter abductors. Lyra’s epic quest takes her to the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle. Here, with the help of Lord Faa’s good-hearted Gyptians, ferocious ice bear Iorek Byrnison (badly voiced by a miscast Ian McKellen), cowboy aeronaut Lee Scoresby (Sam Elliott), witch queen Serafina Pekkala (Eva Green) and a precious truth-telling instrument called an alethiometer, she confronts her enemies: the corrupt king of the ice bears, Ragnar Sturlusson (Ian McShane), the cruel Mrs Coulter (Kidman typecast as an ice queen) and hordes of Tartar henchmen.

What’s missing is any sense of Lyra’s exhilarating but perplexing journey from childhood innocence to incipient adulthood. In the book, we see everything from Lyra’s point-of-view, sharing her sense of wonder, her doubts and fears, her love for her shape-shifting daemon Pantalaimon. But like the Northern Lights themselves, glimpsed only briefly as a projected image, all this is missing. As with the scary Mrs Coulter, the film should possess, 'a scent of grown-upness, something disturbing and enticing at the same time.'

Instead, it’s a synthetic, flavourless product that lacks the subversive tang of Pullman’s source novel.

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Jenni

From reading all of thosse comments, and with not have reading the book, i find it very shocking and degrading how open minded people can be. The film i thought was fantastic, the magic i felt was there, but am open mind what is needed for the film, with reading Pullmans book and deciding what should happen should not effect the film as there is so much that certain cinema companies can do, if it where disney, no one would be complaining. The film i thought engaged alot of history using oxford as the college and seeing parts of the globe that many of us will never see. There should be another film to carry on with the golden compass, to conclude the film, not knowing what happens to any of the characters is just painstakingly annoying. The graphics and the detail which went into the film was amazing as the company had to create every single one of the animals and all of there movements, thats no walk in the park. There needs to be a second one, there just does as i and others need to know what happen

Jenni

From reading all of thosse comments, and with not have reading the book, i find it very shocking and degrading how open minded people can be. The film i thought was fantastic, the magic i felt was there, but am open mind what is needed for the film, with reading Pullmans book and deciding what should happen should not effect the film as there is so much that certain cinema companies can do, if it where disney, no one would be complaining. The film i thought engaged alot of history using oxford as the college and seeing parts of the globe that many of us will never see. There should be another film to carry on with the golden compass, to conclude the film, not knowing what happens to any of the characters is just painstakingly annoying. The graphics and the detail which went into the film was amazing as the company had to create every single one of the animals and all of there movements, thats no walk in the park. There needs to be a second one, there just does as i and others need to know what happen

Joe

As a film on its own the golden compass (wrongly named which is annoying enough) was sub-par at best with the fake english accent of 'lyra', an alright family film i suppose, but a slight insult to all those who have ever read the book. Yes we all understand that book to film = shortened content, we have all seen Lord Of The Rings, but that was still a good adaptation, this was lacking most of the real core of the book, making the film barely an echo of the fantastic literature that is The Northen Lights. I've read rumors of the second book A Subtle Knife is being made with or without Warner Brothers' (who now own the original production studio) approval, i.e. the director will go independent if Bro's says no as the film, ironically, after being named in the American title, being made in the American style, and being completely veiwed as an Aermican 'thing', did apaulingly in the American box office, serves them right maybe? Regardless i hope they DON'T make the second book into a film UNLESS they actually commit to making it resembly the book more this time, and i don't care if it ends up being another three and a half hour marathon like Lord Of The Rings, at least then it will be worth watching, besides, you could still cut it down, as it is after all a smaller book camparitively, without losing the main threads of the story AND the core sub-text of the book, and all the anti-phillip pullman's slightly athiest writing followers, you don't have to see it, so stop complaining, we don't complain when you insult those who aren't of the faith out of the blue, if you don't like it, you do have the free capacity to not see it, it's not like god tells people to go watch films, that would be excessive. And no, i'm not an atheist, so stop judging and swithing off just because i dared to speak out at you

Joe

As a film on its own the golden compass (wrongly named which is annoying enough) was sub-par at best with the fake english accent of 'lyra', an alright family film i suppose, but a slight insult to all those who have ever read the book. Yes we all understand that book to film = shortened content, we have all seen Lord Of The Rings, but that was still a good adaptation, this was lacking most of the real core of the book, making the film barely an echo of the fantastic literature that is The Northen Lights. I've read rumors of the second book A Subtle Knife is being made with or without Warner Brothers' (who now own the original production studio) approval, i.e. the director will go independent if Bro's says no as the film, ironically, after being named in the American title, being made in the American style, and being completely veiwed as an Aermican 'thing', did apaulingly in the American box office, serves them right maybe? Regardless i hope they DON'T make the second book into a film UNLESS they actually commit to making it resembly the book more this time, and i don't care if it ends up being another three and a half hour marathon like Lord Of The Rings, at least then it will be worth watching, besides, you could still cut it down, as it is after all a smaller book camparitively, without losing the main threads of the story AND the core sub-text of the book, and all the anti-phillip pullman's slightly athiest writing followers, you don't have to see it, so stop complaining, we don't complain when you insult those who aren't of the faith out of the blue, if you don't like it, you do have the free capacity to not see it, it's not like god tells people to go watch films, that would be excessive. And no, i'm not an atheist, so stop judging and swithing off just because i dared to speak out at you

gobbler

I thought the film was a great fantasy film and it has done well all around the world. There was a real chemistry between Lyra and Roger. I have seen that Roger on TV before he is agreat little actor. I am looking forward to the next two films.

gobbler

I thought the film was a great fantasy film and it has done well all around the world. There was a real chemistry between Lyra and Roger. I have seen that Roger on TV before he is agreat little actor. I am looking forward to the next two films.

Jesse

I found that this was a really good movie, yes some parts where mxed up but hey at least they got them in there, as for the cast I think they did a really good job and I am really looking forward to the Subtle Knife movie

Jesse

I found that this was a really good movie, yes some parts where mxed up but hey at least they got them in there, as for the cast I think they did a really good job and I am really looking forward to the Subtle Knife movie

Jamster

What a film that was. i think you need to read the first part of the book to make it amazing but it was really good anyway. the end was absoloutly terrible but the film made up for that in the main. the firght between the bears was amazing and Pullmans idea of 'is that all you've got' was amazingly brillient. i can't wait until the next film it will be even better.

Jamster

What a film that was. i think you need to read the first part of the book to make it amazing but it was really good anyway. the end was absoloutly terrible but the film made up for that in the main. the firght between the bears was amazing and Pullmans idea of 'is that all you've got' was amazingly brillient. i can't wait until the next film it will be even better.

Desmond

Truly the worst movie I have ever seen. Cliche after cliche, Lyra's accent is all over the place, the CGI is amateur at best but really it's the story that is utterly lacking. I haven't read the book but if I was the author I'd either give up writing now or distance myself from this film as much as is humanly possible. Only two truths can exist here: either the story is rubbish beyond comprehension or the film is a terrible adapation.

Desmond

Truly the worst movie I have ever seen. Cliche after cliche, Lyra's accent is all over the place, the CGI is amateur at best but really it's the story that is utterly lacking. I haven't read the book but if I was the author I'd either give up writing now or distance myself from this film as much as is humanly possible. Only two truths can exist here: either the story is rubbish beyond comprehension or the film is a terrible adapation.

Siobhan

Oh, and I forgot to say Nicole Kidman was brilliant, and with the exception of Daniel Craig, the only good actor in this movie, including Lyra. And for those of you who asked (below) whos idea was it to cast her, it was in fact Philip Pullman, who wrote a letter to her begging to accept the part - even though inicially she didn't want to.

Siobhan

Oh, and I forgot to say Nicole Kidman was brilliant, and with the exception of Daniel Craig, the only good actor in this movie, including Lyra. And for those of you who asked (below) whos idea was it to cast her, it was in fact Philip Pullman, who wrote a letter to her begging to accept the part - even though inicially she didn't want to.

Siobhan

Amazing film, I agree with the reviewer that it admittedly was nowhere near as good as the book, but with films - what do you expect? Of course it wasn't going to be 100% faithful to the book, I've learnt not to expect much from book-adapted movies, (with the exception of The Devil Wears Prada) However it would have been even better if they hadn't cut the last four chapters of the book and left us with a terrible meant-to-be-a-cliffhanger-but-fails-miserably ending that left us staring at the credits thinking - Is that it?!

Siobhan

Amazing film, I agree with the reviewer that it admittedly was nowhere near as good as the book, but with films - what do you expect? Of course it wasn't going to be 100% faithful to the book, I've learnt not to expect much from book-adapted movies, (with the exception of The Devil Wears Prada) However it would have been even better if they hadn't cut the last four chapters of the book and left us with a terrible meant-to-be-a-cliffhanger-but-fails-miserably ending that left us staring at the credits thinking - Is that it?!

Candi

After months of waiting to see this film on reading the books I have got to say I am so disappointed! The film didn't seem to flow from scene to scene as the book did,everything was in the wrong place. Lyra herself, although she had the right look, missed the passion and bold and powerful character reflected in the book. Just like Daniel bloody Radcliff in Harry Potter! What happened at the end too? Why didn't Lord Asriel build a bridge in to the other world and leave a cliff hanger, what was that ending all about!? Also, there was no magic to it, it was just boring. This film could have been something amazing, spellbinding, tragic, beautiful and mesmerizing and a truly brilliant tale that would leave a person desperate to see the next film. Why is it that the lord of the rings was so amazing and this turned out to be another Harry Potter? Leaving out all the blood & gore because of the children. Bad job!!!!

Candi

After months of waiting to see this film on reading the books I have got to say I am so disappointed! The film didn't seem to flow from scene to scene as the book did,everything was in the wrong place. Lyra herself, although she had the right look, missed the passion and bold and powerful character reflected in the book. Just like Daniel bloody Radcliff in Harry Potter! What happened at the end too? Why didn't Lord Asriel build a bridge in to the other world and leave a cliff hanger, what was that ending all about!? Also, there was no magic to it, it was just boring. This film could have been something amazing, spellbinding, tragic, beautiful and mesmerizing and a truly brilliant tale that would leave a person desperate to see the next film. Why is it that the lord of the rings was so amazing and this turned out to be another Harry Potter? Leaving out all the blood & gore because of the children. Bad job!!!!

cute.sunshine

This enthralling fantasy, based on the book by Philip Pullman, is perfect for all members of the family because of its thrilling and unique storyline. The main character, Lyra Belacqua played by Dakota Blue Richards, discovers that she has the key to a whole new world and adventure. In this fantastic adventure everyone owns a daemon who is their conscience and soul. Lyra has spent her whole life at Jordan's college, Oxford and one day hears her Uncle, Lord Asreil (Daniel Craig), talking about the unknown "dust particles" and a journey to the North. Of course Lyra was very curious and wanted to go with her Uncle on his voyage to the North. Then, Mrs. Marisa Coulter (Nicole Kidman) enters the scene and persuades the headmaster to let her take Lyra on a ‘once in a life time’ journey to try and solve the mystery of the missing, kidnapped children. Little does she know that she is in for a big shock when she finds out that Mrs. Coulter is behind the mystery. She tries to run away but where will she go? How will she find the missing children? Who will help her? Make sure you go and see the film to find out what really happens!

cute.sunshine

This enthralling fantasy, based on the book by Philip Pullman, is perfect for all members of the family because of its thrilling and unique storyline. The main character, Lyra Belacqua played by Dakota Blue Richards, discovers that she has the key to a whole new world and adventure. In this fantastic adventure everyone owns a daemon who is their conscience and soul. Lyra has spent her whole life at Jordan's college, Oxford and one day hears her Uncle, Lord Asreil (Daniel Craig), talking about the unknown "dust particles" and a journey to the North. Of course Lyra was very curious and wanted to go with her Uncle on his voyage to the North. Then, Mrs. Marisa Coulter (Nicole Kidman) enters the scene and persuades the headmaster to let her take Lyra on a ‘once in a life time’ journey to try and solve the mystery of the missing, kidnapped children. Little does she know that she is in for a big shock when she finds out that Mrs. Coulter is behind the mystery. She tries to run away but where will she go? How will she find the missing children? Who will help her? Make sure you go and see the film to find out what really happens!

critique

My perspective is of one who has not read the book and I found it to be a moderately diverting fantasy entertainment.

critique

My perspective is of one who has not read the book and I found it to be a moderately diverting fantasy entertainment.

Becki

The Golden Compass is the best moviein the universe but if Nicole Kidman wasnt in it i would hate it

Becki

The Golden Compass is the best moviein the universe but if Nicole Kidman wasnt in it i would hate it

olek

total rubbish, all messed up - polar bears, witches, stray Americans, Russian soldiers in fur hats, children walking in the frozen Arctic lands. Whatever you want! You need to get drunk before the film (like i did), then you will be able to sit through it, and maybe even laugh wholeheartedly.

olek

total rubbish, all messed up - polar bears, witches, stray Americans, Russian soldiers in fur hats, children walking in the frozen Arctic lands. Whatever you want! You need to get drunk before the film (like i did), then you will be able to sit through it, and maybe even laugh wholeheartedly.

Dan

Watered down and pointless film adaptation of an amazingly deep and brilliant book. I cannot understand how they managed to make Lord Of The Rings into good films but not Northern Lights. Lord Of The Rings was far more challenging to adapt onto the big screen. Northern Lights has it all - a fantastic plot that with many twists and turns along with drama, triumph and despair and everything in between. It should have been made into an fantastic film and instead it's just absolute rubbish. I've never been so dissapointed with a film in all my life. If they bother making the next two, I for one won't be bothering to go and see them. Don't watch this film - read the book.

Dan

Watered down and pointless film adaptation of an amazingly deep and brilliant book. I cannot understand how they managed to make Lord Of The Rings into good films but not Northern Lights. Lord Of The Rings was far more challenging to adapt onto the big screen. Northern Lights has it all - a fantastic plot that with many twists and turns along with drama, triumph and despair and everything in between. It should have been made into an fantastic film and instead it's just absolute rubbish. I've never been so dissapointed with a film in all my life. If they bother making the next two, I for one won't be bothering to go and see them. Don't watch this film - read the book.

Amber

Also, Dakota Blue Richards does bravely but not satisfactory enough. Daniel Craig as Arisel barely appears as a main character, and he is unbelievably softened as a character. Sam Elliot does well compared to most of the cast and Kidman gets double thumbs up. Ian Mckellen should have been a little more ferocious and calculating. Its clear that every character has been shrunken and simplified. You might as well replace each character with a stuffed toy representation that squeaks when you press their stomachs ( Apart from Kidman and Elliot). The daemons however are hardly vitalised in the film, and appear to be nothing but fluffy sidekicks. Hardly a good way to present one's soul and something that is connected to your own heartstrings. You might as well package the movie in fluffy pink ribbons and be done with it. Awful directing.

Amber

Also, Dakota Blue Richards does bravely but not satisfactory enough. Daniel Craig as Arisel barely appears as a main character, and he is unbelievably softened as a character. Sam Elliot does well compared to most of the cast and Kidman gets double thumbs up. Ian Mckellen should have been a little more ferocious and calculating. Its clear that every character has been shrunken and simplified. You might as well replace each character with a stuffed toy representation that squeaks when you press their stomachs ( Apart from Kidman and Elliot). The daemons however are hardly vitalised in the film, and appear to be nothing but fluffy sidekicks. Hardly a good way to present one's soul and something that is connected to your own heartstrings. You might as well package the movie in fluffy pink ribbons and be done with it. Awful directing.

Amber

What a horrible disappointment. I'm an avid reader of Pullman's suberb and complex trilogy and was excited to hear someone had finally reconstructed the books on film, but when I went to see it, I was disgusted. So many matters of what deepens the plot and political heartstrings of the book are skipped atrociously or hastily explained as if talking to a toddler. The whole style of the book is so the reader slowly finds and learns of the fantasy world in which they are shown, not given a patronising TOUR GUIDE. The chapters are mixed up dilberately, and the ending is sliced off unremarkably just when things start to get a tiny bit exci...

Amber

What a horrible disappointment. I'm an avid reader of Pullman's suberb and complex trilogy and was excited to hear someone had finally reconstructed the books on film, but when I went to see it, I was disgusted. So many matters of what deepens the plot and political heartstrings of the book are skipped atrociously or hastily explained as if talking to a toddler. The whole style of the book is so the reader slowly finds and learns of the fantasy world in which they are shown, not given a patronising TOUR GUIDE. The chapters are mixed up dilberately, and the ending is sliced off unremarkably just when things start to get a tiny bit exci...

mia

the film was superb. i had not read the books before the film and i understood it. i have now read all 3 books and i cant wait for the 2nd film. see the film for the film, dont judge it by the books otherwise u will be disappointed. as there is no way a book that long can be fitted into a film. the theatre production was 6hours long. worth seeing

mia

the film was superb. i had not read the books before the film and i understood it. i have now read all 3 books and i cant wait for the 2nd film. see the film for the film, dont judge it by the books otherwise u will be disappointed. as there is no way a book that long can be fitted into a film. the theatre production was 6hours long. worth seeing

lisa

i went 2 c this film with my partner an my son and we really enjoyed it. im looking forward 2 the sequel i just hope it is a good a this 1 was.

lisa

i went 2 c this film with my partner an my son and we really enjoyed it. im looking forward 2 the sequel i just hope it is a good a this 1 was.

Rich

Excellent fim adaptation of even more excellent 1st part of trilogy that improves dramatically in books 2 & noteably 3. Weiss did well to put across a complex story in under 2 hours. Obviously elements had to be omitted and the ending occuring earlier than in the first book (obviously this paves the way for a good opening for The Subtle Knife if it materialises). The sequels will not disappoint if they happen, as the story prgresses to a level beyond this "introductory" installment.

Rich

Excellent fim adaptation of even more excellent 1st part of trilogy that improves dramatically in books 2 & noteably 3. Weiss did well to put across a complex story in under 2 hours. Obviously elements had to be omitted and the ending occuring earlier than in the first book (obviously this paves the way for a good opening for The Subtle Knife if it materialises). The sequels will not disappoint if they happen, as the story prgresses to a level beyond this "introductory" installment.

Nick

Honestly the worst film I have ever sat through. Absolute balls. I'd rather poke my self in the eye than go through something of such poor cinematic quality again - just terrible!!! Awfull

Nick

Honestly the worst film I have ever sat through. Absolute balls. I'd rather poke my self in the eye than go through something of such poor cinematic quality again - just terrible!!! Awfull

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