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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
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1 comment:

Roostea said...

The cute, cuddly Panda Bear of the World Wildlife Federation is on the web site of the movie, 'The Golden Compass'. That movie, as you may know, and the books it is extracted from is fervently anti-Catholic with select attacks on every Christian branch with the exception of the Church of England, whose Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, supports it.
The book the movie was made from was written by an Englishman, you see, and many of the arguments in it support that particular Christian branch. The production company hails from New Zealand, where again, hatred of the Catholic Church and love of the Church of England is strong.
The Archbishop was also hotly against the invasion of Iraq and luridly opposes the continued occupation of that country by the United States.
Says the Archbishop of Canterbury, "We are doing all we can to support the Iraqi people."
Recently in a British Muslim magazine the Archbishop of Canterbury called the United States the ‘worst’ imperialist.
He further stated, “We have only one global hegemonic power. It is not accumulating territory: it is trying to accumulate influence and control. That’s not working.”
He then started talking in glowing tones about the British travesties in India, “It is one thing to take over a territory and then pour energy and resources into administering it and normalising it. Rightly or wrongly, that’s what the British Empire did — in India, for example.”
He skipped the part about mass killings, deforestation, the destruction of the countryside, disease and starvation caused by the ignorant and heavy-handed occupation of India which lasted over 200 years.
The movie ’The Golden Compass’ echoes and brings to the modern movie screen centuries of ignorance and hatred. Many of the misguided morals and themes of the movie are the same as those which have pushed many animals to the brink of extinction. Just which way is World Wildlife Federation headed? Towards the light of civilized society or into the darkness of fear and dread? The movie presents half-baked science and twists philosophical ideas until they make no sense - ideas like conservation, love, fidelity and honor. I have no intention of giving any more money to that fund nor even supporting it in public unless they distance from that flickering obscenity of hate that is being circulated in movie theatres as 'entertainment'.
Though I am no religious extremist I will not truck with people whose minds are filled with hate for humanity and the natural world in which we live. Your organization is being exploited by the marketers of the movie who now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have a major problem on their hands.
The movie is being advertised as being in line with stories like Narnia or Middle Earth. It is really only a collection of wicked ideas which have led to burning witches, war and the dark ages in centuries and eons past.
Here is what the WWF claims to be doing : “By 2015 WWF will conserve 19 of the world's most important natural places and significantly change global forces to protect the future of nature.”
…protect the future of nature. How? By destroying the United States and attacking the pope with armored polar bears?


I do not care for the fact that millions of dollars are being wasted on an individual delusion. It was created from centuries of lurid tales and accumulated hatred against other religions other than the Church of England. It is a disservice to that Church - which, even though it cut itself off from the larger Catholic Church made every effort until recently to keep the faith that they had received from Christ through tradition relatively pure. Now the Archbishop of Canterbury is taking up for Islam and Sharia law. It's nonsense.

Consider the great body of actual stories that are available to Hollywood. The stories of the Roman and Greek empires still have not even been touched. They contain in them accumulated knowledge that was gathered over thousands of years. Why isn't that presented in the movie houses? How come we get attacks on our way of life aimed at our children?

As for it being just lame entertainment for children driven by fantasy and storytelling - that's just not the case here. The story is secondary to the angry and hateful ideas contained within it. It's a full blown attack on ideas like kindness, politeness, tradition, marriage - faith - it is insane that it made it to international release.

It is coming into the West from New Zealand.

The advertising for ‘The Golden Compass’ leads us to believe it is ‘the next step in fantasy’ while really the stories of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis that they refer to have nothing to do with the lurid tale that is being told in 'The Golden Compass'. The Tolkien tales are an amalgamation of european legend that enmeshes a wide variety of western story telling traditions with an artful summation of western military history and all of its glory and brutality.

The works of C.S. Lewis present an allegory of Christ on earth that presents some of the harsher realities of Christ's death and resurrection in a way that a child could conceive.

'The Golden Compass' takes both sets of those ideals and ideas, sets them on their ear and smashes them in anger and rage.

The works of Tolkien and Lews are extensive and take in a wide sweep english literature and moral writings along with Christian apologetics. The author of 'The Golden Compass' has written relatively few books including one called 'I Was A Rat!'.

I think he still is one.