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Golden Compass Review

Well, I saw the Golden Compass.

I was a little bit unsure of what to think about this movie going into it. I'd heard about all the controversy surrounding it for the books' anti-Christian themes, but I've never read the books. And I wanted to go into the movie with an open mind. And honestly? I wasn't that impressed.

I could pick up right away what was supposed to be the evil church (the Magisterium) trying to sabotage the good people who just want to know the truth about the universe. I think, though, that was because I knew about the anti-Christian themes going into it. Besides that, there really wasn't anything to show that the books were written as part of the author's quest to destroy Christianity.

All that aside, how was the actual movie? It was decent. I'd give it a C. I got to see the trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian again, and that had me more excited than the actual movie did (literally -- I was practically bouncing up and down in my seat with excitement). The movie had decent action sequences, although not enough, and I felt myself willing the movie forward. The plot was kind of tedious, and left the ending quite obviously open for another movie. There were no real awe-inducing visuals in my opinion, either. There also is not the feeling that Lyra's quest is something that she needs to undertake. There's mention of how she's the child in a prophecy, but there is no sense of urgency there.

The biggest problem, however, was not the tedious plot or lack of action sequences or that there were no stunning visuals. It was missing that spark of magic, that sense of awe and wonderment you get from other fantasy movies like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter movies, and yes, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Those movies left you feeling awed, stunned, and the magic in those worlds seemed palpable and real. You left the theatre feeling as if these were real people, real events, and that if you poked around a few wardrobes in your house, you might just find Narnia, too. The Golden Compass did not have that spark of magic. You didn't leave the theatre feeling awed and stunned. Whether this was due to the plot or the filmmaking, I don't know exactly. Some movies have it. Some movies don't. This didn't.

All in all, I don't see this having the mega-success that the Chronicles of Narnia has enjoyed. I'm sure it will do well at the box office, but I just don't see it becoming an instant classic, a mega-blockbuster as I feel The Chronicles of Narnia, the Harry Potter series, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy were. It comes off as if the movie is trying very, very hard to be in that category, but it simply falls short. The plot isn't as strong, the visuals not as stunning, and the magic is simply missing. I can't speak for the books, as I haven't read them. But the movie, in almost every way, is simply mediocre.


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Comments (19)

I think The Chronicles of N... (Below threshold)

I think The Chronicles of Narnia was slightly missing that spark as well - it was there but it was faint. I think one of its failings was that it didn't introduce the inscription of the stone table at all. It just came as a big surprise and felt like a cheat.

Then again, not everything that happens to you in this world gives you explicit foreshadowing.

I'm actually looking forwar... (Below threshold)

I'm actually looking forward to this movie. I've read the first two books of the trilogy and loved them both. There are definitely anti-Christian themes, you just have to keep in mind that it's a work of fantasy, not theology.

Anti-Christian films do not... (Below threshold)

Anti-Christian films do not bother me even though I am a believer. Look at all that the world have thrown at our church over 2000 years and it still stands. Some puny film cannot undo any of that. ww

odd that an author so dead-... (Below threshold)

odd that an author so dead-set against a male-dominated, invasive, all-controlling ecumenical authority would choose to (evidently) attack christianity in his books.

there IS another religion that'd qualify as being *more* opposed to personal freedom, spiritual education, and individual rights, is there not?

will we see bearded men crying "stone the harlot!" or "kill the schoolteacher!" cast as the villains anytime soon? no?

how very odd.

"There are definitely anti-... (Below threshold)
mikem Author Profile Page:

"There are definitely anti-Christian themes, you just have to keep in mind that it's a work of fantasy, not theology."

I don't know what to make of this. Everyone knows that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is fantasy, but still find its promotion to be vile and designed to produce hatred toward Jews. (I agree.) Attacking specific doctrine is one thing, fair enough, but attacking an entire faith as an evil institution, led by evil people is bigotry and not a yawner in my book. And don't bother telling me it is not the Catholic Church being evilized, the writers have already said it is so.

My prediction: blue state m... (Below threshold)

My prediction: blue state movie critics will swoon, but it was do only so-so at the box office, if that.

The issue here is not that ... (Below threshold)

The issue here is not that it is anti-Christian, it is that it is being thrust upon us with massive publicity as the bestest little fantasy around (please don't look at the atheist behind the curtains).
I never heard of these books until I was reading a book about the Potter books, and there it was described as dark, non-life affirming etc. This thing has won scads of awards.
The problem is that it just doesn't sell that well. It has no spirit, no uplift, no joy.
Prediction: despite the hoopla, no sequel gets made.

Ok great reviews and opinio... (Below threshold)

Ok great reviews and opinions....BUT..the big question is-- Was Nicole Kidman in any hot scenes?? lmao.. THAT is what will SELL...

Maggie, leave my vowels alone...!

I don't really have a dog i... (Below threshold)

I don't really have a dog in this fight, but I was bothered when I read a review that contained a passage about the author, who acknowledged he mostly removed the blatant anti-Christian stuff from the books for the Golden Compass, but was planning to put them back in the sequels if it did well at the box office.

That said to me that he knew no one wanted to see that part, but he thought he could use the sanitized first episode to get people to expose themselves to the whole message in later movies. Just seemed a little shady.

I have to agree with WildWi... (Below threshold)

I have to agree with WildWillie. Personally, I wouldn't watch a movie with an anti-Christian theme, but I have enough faith in my fellow citizens to let them decide what films they want to see. Ultimately the marketplace determines failure or success, as illustrated by the recent poor performance of anti-war flicks.

Brainy, of course the whole... (Below threshold)

Brainy, of course the whole thing is shady. It's done by a liberal.

Gotta like Sam Elliot. ... (Below threshold)

Gotta like Sam Elliot.

Loved him as Brig. Gen. John Buford in Gettysburg....."The HIGH ground, they'll be HELL to pay if we don't seize the HIGH ground...."

btw, anybody hear how "Reda... (Below threshold)

btw, anybody hear how "Redacted" is doing?? Is it's take up to $50k yet?

The ROTTEN TOMATOES nationa... (Below threshold)

The ROTTEN TOMATOES national survey of 138 movie critics have not been kind to this movie either, with 79 so far branding it as "rotten".

And some critics such as Larry King continue to complain that their reviews of films are taken completely out of context when reviewing films by the promoters. In one case, a film was such a confused mess that Larry King said that you'd have to "see it twice to understand it", and the movie promoters misleadingly used, "See it twice"---Larry King, as a endorsement of the film, when he clearly hated the film.

It seems that most films wi... (Below threshold)

It seems that most films with an agenda don't do well. Instead of seeking to entertain, they seek to proselytize or propagandize, and I think many people see through that. Know what your audience likes, and give it to them, and you will succeed.

It seems that most films... (Below threshold)
just me:

It seems that most films with an agenda don't do well.

I think this is generally true outside of some niche markets-for the most part people don't go to movies to be preached at, and I think they like it even less in children's movies.

I also think in general the children's movies that do best are those that seem to have a broad appeal, and I am not certain this movie is going to have that-it might, and it will probably do well enough, but it seems to attack much of what middle America at least believes-not sure it is going to have a wide enough appeal, when so many won't even bother.

My kids didn't read the books and none of us have any interest in the seeing the movies. I am a Christian, but in general don't get overly controlling over reading material as long as it is age appropriate.

I absolutely, positively, L... (Below threshold)

I absolutely, positively, LOVE the fact that the Narnia trailer was in front of this movie. The author has described "His Dark Materials" as "the anti-Narnia" trilogy, standing against everything Narnia stands for. Despite all that, the kiddies saw the better bit first.

As far as the anti-Christian stuff (which starts in the second book, from what I heard), it's ONE BIG STRAW MAN. (Feel free to quote me on that.) Simply naming a character YHWH doesn't make it a depiction of the real one, any more than Carrie Anne Moss's character in The Matrix is a depiction of the REAL Trinity.

It looks like it's bombing ... (Below threshold)

It looks like it's bombing here in the US with just $8 million on opening day.

No matter the message, you still need to make a good movie to get people interested.

I have to agree with the co... (Below threshold)

I have to agree with the comments above about preaching - it's ok to have a point that you want to get across but heavy handedness turns people off. The Narnia stories were never preachy. The His Dark Materials trilogy starts off ok (from what I've heard) but by the time you get to the third installment the author just goes completely off the rails breathing fire and sulfer against Christianity. It becomes a diatribe, not a story.

If the first movie is preachy I wonder how on earth they intend to handle the third one?

In any case the Prince Caspian film looks superior.






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