Wednesday, December 05, 2007
The Golden Compass - review
The Golden Compass (PG)
Dir. Chris Weitz
Reviewed by Matt Adcock
By order of the Magisterium’s General Oblation Board – freethinking is hereby outlawed… Anyone found to be enjoying this stylish but cold, and ultimately flat feeling fantasy adaptation must report for non-negotiable thought reconditioning.
Here we have the big screen version of the first of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials novels – Northern Lights (now renamed The Golden Compass thanks to our US friends). I must confess to being a fan of the books and so I had heady expectations for this huge budget, highly complex tale which en’compass’es cool battling polar bears, friendly witches, spirit linked daemons and a young girl who has mankind’s destiny on her shoulders.
Renowned as the ‘anti-Narnia’ Pullman’s atheist viewpoint championing series has been a bit neutered for its transfer to the cinema (possibly to stave off attacks from religious Fundamentalists out there). This is unlikely to go down well with lovers of the original dark material and even speaking as a Christian I felt that the changes weakened the narrative overall.
The plot sees feisty young heroine Lyra Belacqua (12 year old newcomer Dakota Blue Richards) entrusted with the last Golden Compass – a future / truth telling device also known as an alethiometer. Seems she is the prophesied chosen catalyst for an ragged alliance of freedom fighters to band together and overthrow the tyranny of the evil empire / dark wizard / ice queen, – erm I mean Magisterium of course.
Standing on the shoulders of many other fantasy films The Golden Compass shines only briefly – the ice bear smackdown being the only part that really upped my pulse rate. It all looks gorgeous though and has Nicole Kidman embodying evil itself. She manages to steal the show whenever she graces the screen as Mrs Coulter, deliciously beguiling and utterly chilling at the same time. Dashing Daniel Craig is also on hand as Lyra’s guardian Lord Asriel – a man on a mission to cross into one of the parallel worlds that sit alongside ours. But even the star studded cast can’t lift the overall pall that Golden Compass leaves – all the more obvious when compared to Stardust which delivered such high spirited fantasy fun just a few weeks ago.
Those coming to this having not read the books may find it all a bit convoluted, and could struggle to see what the heavyweight marketing fuss is about. I wouldn’t be surprised if non-believing Pullman himself isn’t offering up a small prayer that the filmmakers make a better job of the sequel should it get the ‘go ahead’.
Out of 5 you have to go with an but was hoping for more 3 (being visually stunning doesn't excuse 'dullness')...
Darkmatters ratings (look out for the all new DM ratings in January '08!!):
Action ööö – Ice Bears baby and an obligatory final battle
Laughs öö – Not funny. not really meant to be
Horror ööö – Some violence
Babes ööö – Kidman is all kinds of sexy but evil with it!
Overall ööö (No classic but nice enough)
"Nicole now being credited as 'golden monkey' apparently!?"
- oh no that's just her Daemon...
"This is what we want... bring it!!!!"
"More bear action in a director's cut would be nice!"
Darkmatters: H O M E
Posted by Matt Adcock at 3:21 pm