Tuesday, January 1, 2008


(Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig & Dakota Blue Richards)

This film is hard to describe – it’s a strange little tale - & an early warning for those who may not be aware – it does not end – this is one of those ‘to be continued’ jobs. What I liked about it is what drew me to it in the first place – talking polar bears!The special effects are cool – the scenery is impressive – if you like that sort of thing – I don’t particularly, but I did notice it in this. But, aside from Nicole Kidman, the acting leaves a lot to be desired.Besides lacking an ending, “The Golden Compass” also lacks the spunk of “Enchanted”, the cohesive storyline of “Stardust, & the humor of both of those films.I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy it – it is worth seeing in a theatre because of the impressive talking polar bear fight – but it’s . . . well, kind of dumb, to be perfectly frank. (& we all know Frank is far from being perfect)Here’s the set-up; Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) arrives at the estate where his young niece Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) is staying & for some reason no one there likes him. Some balding posh wanker puts poison in his wine in an attempt to bump him off. Lyra thwarts the would-be murder by slapping the glass from her Uncle’s hand just as he’s about to take a sip – This is another problem you’ll discover with this movie – The amount of times someone arrives just in the ‘nick of time’ to save someone (usually Lyra) is redundantly ridiculous. Mrs. Coulter (Kidman) arrives & for some reason charms little Lyra even though it is revealed that she has no idea that this is the ‘chosen’ child who has the power to read the Golden Compass (An odd little device that supposedly tells the ‘truth’) Mrs. Coulter is part of the Magisterium that rules this particular world where they keep the ‘civilians’ in line by keeping the truth from them.

Apparently, the truth they want kept hidden is that there is ‘dust’ in the world. Dust, it seems, has the power to travel from one dimension to another & enter beings via their daemons... Yeah. Add into this mix ‘Gobblers’ who kidnap children & take them to a prison camp where, if they misbehave, have their daemons taken away from them. This, in contrast to our world is a bad thing. Then out of the sky a flying witch appears & isn’t killed by Dorothy’s house. In this version of Oz, broomstick flying witches are the good guys. So, witches & daemons are nice, while Gobblers & hot chicks with amazing blue eyes are evil.

Yes, a strange little tale, indeed.Now, in the midst of all this over-saturated fantasyland – they throw in Sam Elliott, looking like Sam Elliott always does – Cowboy hat, long stringy white hair, a thick, gray moustache with a 3-4 days growth of beard looking like he just stepped out of the bowling alley on ‘The Big Lebowski’. Except here, he’s a futuristic hot air balloon pilot, spinning lots of good ol’ down home advice to little Lyra & her humungous armored polar bear bodyguard(Voiced with ferocity by that skinny poofter, Ian McKellar)So why did I kinda sorta enjoy this mess? The daemons. They held my interest with the odd idea of having every persons ‘soul’ walk around with them in the form of a creature. Lord Asriel’s is a female lion; Mrs. Coulter’s is an annoying orange-colored chimp-like creature; Lyra’s is a ferret that can change instantly into a bird or a cat. Oddly enough all of the daemons have the ability to speak with the exception of Mrs. Coulter’s mini-monkey. The daemons are just fun to watch & the talking polar bear fight is awesome, baby! Other than that – the rest of this is kind of bland, yet strange.After viewing & reviewing this movie I‘ve discovered there’s a big controversy surrounding it regarding various religious groups protesting its ‘direct attack’ against God & religion... Do these people have to waste every second of their lives concerning themselves with such trivial matters?

It’s a fantasy – set in another dimension where the beings have visible souls that live outside of their bodies & walk around with their ‘masters’ (In our world, it would be like your pet was your soul) So the Magisterium wants to maintain ‘order’ by keeping the ‘truth’ from the people – That’s more of a shot at the Bush administration than it is on religion, is it not? & folks, let’s grow up a little here – this is a movie – a make-believe fairy-tale-like STORY. Save your blasphemy comments for the next Mel Gibson epic, okay? Beside how can you pick on a movie that has talking polar bears in it? Even the polar bears in the Christmas Coke ads couldn’t talk – Don’t you realize what a true miracle this is?


Lilithas said...

The movie is actually based on a book, and the book is a LOT more comprehensible than the movie (and interesting, too). Especially because of the movie's non-ending.

But I agree: the polar bear fights and the daemons were cool. I actually came out wishing we could have talking daemons of our own.

Terry Reid said...

We DO have daemons, Lilithas - they're called dogs (We just have to provide their voices)