Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Golden Compass

There was quite a firestorm prior to the release of The Golden Compass (2007) in which certain segments of the religious community claimed it would promote atheism largely through encouraging children to pick up the books. I discussed at some length my view on the validity of that objection to the movie. I also had no outstanding desire to see the movie, largely because the previews looked...well, weak. It looked like another Eragon (2006) rather than another Lord of the Rings type franchise and that is the reason my desire was light.

Well, as it turns out, Ironman Al wanted to see it so off we went.

The story follows Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards), a headstrong, dishonest, annoying little twerp sent to school by her uncle Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig). She is constantly in trouble, known as a liar, and basically is one of those annoying characters so often foisted upon us for protagonists.

Soon she is taken out of school by Marisa Coulter (Nicole Kidman), an operative for the Magesterium. This does not go well, she escapes Coulter, joins up with a variety of people who help her and she develops a mastery of the use of the Golden Compass.

Through a pretty random series of events she ends up finding the location where the Magesterium is involved in separating children from their daemons, rescues the children, and then comes the best scene of the movie.

As the children escape from the exploding prison they are headed off by guards clearly reminiscent of the fearsome and murderous Cossacks of the Russians. However, the children are rescued by an alliance consisting of the Gyptians, witches, and an armored bear who spends more time out of armor than in it. The battle is pretty entertaining.

The movie missed the mark on many accounts. Lyra is very hard to like, her journey is guided by the writer saying "we need to go here for the next scene" instead of any internal consistency, the characters in the movie do not have internal consistency...

For example, Iorek Byrnison (voiced by Ian McKellan) has a long scene in which he talks about being an armored bear for whom his armor is like the daemons for people. Of course, if people are separated from their daemons for longer than a specified length of time they die...but Iorek spends most of the movie leaving his armor behind to head into danger. It makes no sense whatsoever.

In short, this was a movie with unlikable characters, weak plot, and inherent discrepancies. On the bright side, the acting was passable, the special effects excellent and the ending battle scene is almost good enough to redeem the movie. Key in on the word almost.

1 comment:

Al said...

It wasn't that bad but I wished they would've fleshed out more of the background. Maybe I need to read the book. I thought it was Patrick Steweart as the voice of the clue.