The Golden Compass... An Exciting Adventure? (Spoilers Allowed)

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Films and Television' started by Vortigern99, Dec 10, 2007.

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  1. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    My wife and I just came back from watching this film, for which we've been waiting for months. Sadly, we were both grossly underwhelmed and found little or no emotional connection with the characters and events onscreen. Rather than gasping with worry or shock when Lyra is captured, for example, we just kind of sat there thinking, "Oh, look, Lyra got captured by the bad guys. Hmmm." The best moments in the film involved the Ice Bears, and the struggle of Iorek to regain his throne. Those scenes at least had a kind of life to them, a dynamism and a sense of humor not felt or seen in any other part of the movie. It's not a bad film by far -- parts of it are quite astonishing, really -- but it is mostly tedious and unengaging, and I don't think I'm inspired to either read the book or wait breathlessly for the next movie in the series... if they even decide to make it.

    Did anyone enjoy it on a level that I did not? Or are we all in agreement that it's kind of "meh"?


    DJK edit: I just edited the title so it's clear that non-HTR spoilers are allowed in this thread. :)
  2. Count_Doodie Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2006
    star 2
    dude, dont let this shambles of a film put you off reading the book. northern lights/the golden compass is one of the best books i've ever read. you can imagine how let down i was by the film.

    go read the book, and if you dont LOVE it i'll send you a muffin in the post to compensate you for your time!

    once again, film was crap, book is brilliant.

    -doodie

    ps. do you know about the whole, they left the end of the book off of the film, thing?
  3. Raven Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 5, 1998
    star 6

    The movie was visually amazing.

    Beyond that, not so good.
  4. Radical-Edward Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2002
    star 1
    (My review here, copied from elsewhere. Starts off discussing the last 20 minutes of the film that got cut out from the theatrical release)

    My feeling at the end of the film was that the movie seemed like an incised child. It was stunted in every way: its plots were incomplete, each major act was, at best, only 70% of what it should have been, and it had no ending. I really tried to have an open mind and give the 'revised' ending a chance, but it just really didn't work. The story was incomplete, and I think even someone unfamiliar to Northern Lights would understand that there was something fundamental missing when the final fade to black came, like there should have been another sequence, another major event, maybe even a short epilogue. The last-minute editing out of the conclusion was done sloppily, in a purely technical sense, and it didn't flow from a storyteller's perspective, either. This was the single greatest failing of the film. The action was just starting to build after Bolvangar; the chase was on, Mrs. Coulter had just rallied her troops and was racing Scoresby to the North, everything is ready for the ultimate showdown...and then it just stops.

    That said, the acting was fantastic. Nicole Kidman seemed like she was born for this role, and Dakota Blue Richards really is Lyra. Daniel Craig was no pushover, either. Eva Green also did well, despite being one scene away from completely absent from the film (I think that reducing her role will come back to bite them later if they make the sequels) and who could have said that Sam Elliot would have been anything short of perfect as Scoresby? Iorek was perhaps the best-written character of the movie, and the voice acting matched. There were shades to his 'performance' that I think will be unfortunately lost on even many discerning viewers. Cheers to the entire main cast. Christopher Lee's cameo was also a nice, unexpected surprise.

    On the flip side, Fra Pavel came off as too weaselly and slimy, and should have carried more gravitas for the role that his character played. Billy's reunion with Ma Costa was a tremendous disappointment. Such fantastic potential for a really powerful scene blindly tossed away. How did Ma Costa know about him losing Ratters? *sigh* Tough as it is working with child actors, there should have been better coaching of the kids, particularly in the first minutes of the film, and more emphasis on realistic behavior.


    Nearly as disappointing as the ending being removed was the reversal of the Bolvangar and the Ice Bear sequences. Rescing the children took up, what, one third of the original book? It was over before the half-way point, and just served as a way of introducing the important characters and groups and events. I come to the film, and that becomes the sole focus of the entire story, dominating even the climax, Iorek's return to his people (who somehow were inexplicably displaced displaced from Svalbard to Norway somewhere in the course of the movie :confused:) . The great character-driven tragedy that is Northern Lights became a dime-a-dozen children's adventure story with a happy, story-book ending?

    Conclusions: Unless you really like to watch acting for acting's sake, skip it. If you do choose to see it, at least there are some pretty pictures to look at along the way.

    Don't judge the book by the movie, either, whatever you do.
  5. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    I only read the synopsis on the backs of the toys and saw that there was a video game. What I read made me think it was an even worse and weaker storyline than the new Narnia series.

    I've found, lately, that a number of new movies and TV shows are really nothing more than ways to discover a decent book. Dresden Files: mediocre TV, very amusing books. Dexter: rare case where both the TV series and the books are good (though different enough that season 2 and book 2 have to be in totally different universes). BloodTies: horrible TV, not very good books. Hitch-Hiker's Guide: blah movie, horrible TV, 2 good books/4 bad ones, great radio programme. So, go from there.
  6. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    Thank you all, especially Radical Edward, for your educated reviews of this promising disappointment. My wife and I could indeed tell something fundamental was missing, that there was a great story with great characters begging to be told, but alas, it was not up there on the screen.
  7. Darth_Hydra Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2001
    star 4
    I have the first book but never got the around to reading it. In the next day or two I'll probably see the movie. Is there anything that might be too confusing since I haven't read it?
  8. LAJ_FETT Tech Admin and Collecting/Games Mod

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    May 25, 2002
    star 9
    I haven't seen the film, and based on the reviews I've seen, I might not. However I did get the first book and I am just about finished with it. I highly recommend it even if you are older than the age range it is intended for. I bought the other two since I am enjoying it so much.
  9. JediPrettyBoy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2005
    star 4
    The Golden Compass...Atheistic rhetoric and propaganda.

    I'm sure the storytelling, at least of the books, is as imaginative as people make it out to be, but I just can't bring myself to read the books or see the movie.
  10. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    "Aetheistic propaganda?" Is that why the US Conference of Bishops said that since "Lyra and her allies are taking a stand on behalf of free will in opposition to the coercive force of the Magisterium, they are of course acting entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching"? That "the heroism and self-sacrifice that they demonstrate provide appropriate moral lessons"? Why would they go on to ask: "Is Pullman trying to undermine anyone?s belief in God? Leaving the books aside and focusing on what has ended up on screen, the script can reasonably be interpreted in the broadest sense as an appeal against the abuse of political power."

    Any anway, since we are awash in Christian propaganda from all quarters of western culture, including our national governments, what would be so morally reprehensible about presenting an agnostic or even aetheistic view in counter-point? There is no evidence that the Judeo-Christian deity exists, only faith and belief; and those emotional and mental states are not sufficient cause to present theistic systems as any more real or valid or "right" than an aetheistic system.

    I am not championing this tedious, lackluster film -- but I am championing its right to question accepted religious doctrine and defy conventional Christian dogma.
  11. Radical-Edward Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 22, 2002
    star 1
    Or, in the case of all those who have never read the books and make spurious claims about its 'corruptive atheist influences' or whatever the catchphrase is, Unconventional Christian dogma. True Christian dogma has nothing against the messages of the book...or the film, for that matter.
  12. JediPrettyBoy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 10, 2005
    star 4
    How do you know if I am even Jewish or Christian?
  13. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    I do not. However, given that I have never entered into a discussion with a person who objects to 'aetheist propaganda' who was not of the Judeo-Christian family of religions, it's a reasonable guess. Regardless of one's specific faith, to take issue with agnosticism, or works which supposedly support agnosticism, by naming them 'aetheist propaganda' is a clear indication of religious intolerance. Please be more open-minded when it comes to one's freedom of -- or from -- religion.
  14. Koohii Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    May 30, 2003
    star 5
    [face_praying] Sadly, the constitution of the USA only provides "freedom of religion", not "freedom from religion". "The Framers" didn't trust the people, and figured that the "common man" needed religion to keep them in line. That's also why they put in an "electoral college"--in case "the People" made a mistake. It never occurred to them that society would rise to the point where a large minority who were not "ruling class" would be agnostic or aetheist. Heck, the constitution was "a great experiment."

    I think it's funny that the main obnoxious aetheist (can't remember his name) has alienated his children with his pursuits and lawsuits (in defense of their rights, of course) that at least one of them has taken up religion.

    [face_skull]Harry Potter:D is a wiccan conspiracy to corrupt your children, you know.8-}
    [face_pumpkin] Halloween is a pagan holiday where virgins are sacrificed on altars.[face_cow]
  15. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    This thread has taken an odd turn, but before we're redirected by Conor or DJK, allow me to submit that whereas a religion is a system of spiritual and/or moral beliefs, aetheism and agnosticism are forms of religion, and therefore protected under the same constitutional guarantees.
  16. Count_Doodie Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    May 25, 2006
    star 2
    my 2cents, i cant understand how some pple are so insecure in their faith that they're scared of a film.
    *glances around nervously*
    [subjectchange]so um *cough* did anyone else see that part where that one bear beat up the other bear...?[/subjectchange]
    *glances around nervously*
    -doodie
  17. Dark_Jedi_Kenobi Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2004
    star 5
    I understand that a film like this raises tension and issues regarding religion, but let's keep our focus here. This thread is for discussing the film, not religion or the reactions of various organized religions to the film. If you want to discuss religion, I invite you to visit the Senate. :)
  18. JediTrilobite Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 1999
    star 7
    I really enjoyed the movie. I thought that the pacing was all out of whack, but the acting was good and visually, there were some fantastic scenes there.
  19. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    Well, I'm glad someone liked it enough to chime in and defend it. My wife and I agree that the film does not outright suck; it is certainly visually stunning, and Nicole Kidman in particular delivers an engaging performance. The subplot with the Ice Bears vying for the throne of their kingdom is enthralling, if all too brief; and the final battle (with the witches vs. the Gyptians vs. the wolf dudes) was extremely well crafted and quite exciting, particularly for a nighttime battle, which is no mean feat. But overall the film was dull and tedious -- I for one kept waiting for it to end -- and the characters, especially the protagonist, were lackluster and uninteresting. I understand the film does not do the book the least amount of justice, which is a darn shame and a horrednous missed opportunity.
  20. ThrawnRocks Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 10, 2004
    star 6
    I'm sad to hear this movie is getting bad reviews. I have yet to see it, but I was hoping that it would be really good, since I love the books. Of course I will still see it though. And this more or less confirms what I've been saying since I first heard about this movie: even if it sucks, there is simply no way they can mess up the Liquid Awesome that is the armored bear fight. =P~
  21. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    I just got back from The Golden Compass today and thought I'd throw my thoughts the way of this group. I actually enjoyed the story a great deal. I confess that I didn't recognize Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig until the very end. It rather hurt the story and I think they should have just stuck with less recognizable stars and saved themselves some of the astronomical $250 million dollar budget of this thing. Seriously, when you make a movie that costs that much, you really need to start considering feeding a small 3rd World Nation instead.

    I'd like to say that it was worth the price tag but given each Lord of the Rings film and Star Wars film was worth only $100 million dollars, I've got to wonder where the Hell all of the money went since it doesn't really seem to be that extravagent of a movie. There's some attractive bits here and there but it seems like you could have probably made this same movie without some of the CGI shots on a television budget.

    I'm not a fan of His Dark Materials like my friend who insisted I go see it. Thus, I went in with only a vague idea of the world's mythology. I have both positive and negative things to say about seeing it without familiarity with the original work. On the positive side, I was still able to make sense of the basic cosmology. On the negative sense, I'm absolutely sure that huge bits were cut out of this storyline that would have made it seem a great deal more interesting and entertaining. In fact, the only reason that I was able to understand it is because I'm pretty acquainted with D&D and was able to grasp the concept in relative terms. "Oh, Daemons are these peoples Magician's Familiars. One dies, the other dies. Fine, gotcha." I'm fairly sure that my parents and niece were completely lost.

    I also was sure that Hollywood was dancing around what would have made the story a lot more understandable. For example, it took a bit to pick up on the fact that the Magisterium was the Catholic Church/Church of England. It's been a while since the Catholic Church was able to dictate policy in the world so I was wondering who the Hell these people were. Once I figured out that Lord Azrael was supposed to be Galileo and we were doing a thinly veiled retelling of his persecution it was much easier to get around. Instead, I was wondering where the Magisterium was the World Government/The High Council of wizards or what.

    It's a radical statement by Lord Azrael when he says "In these other worlds there are worlds where there is no Church and No God!"

    But if you haven't even explained Authority=God then I have no idea what the HELL Daniel Craig talking about when he mentions "And in these other worlds there are worlds where there is no Magisterium and no Authority!" If you're worried about the implications of a line, remove the line rather than just change the names and remove all context to them.

    This movie is different from the Harry Potter films they're so trying to emanate in that I'm fairly sure that the directors had no sense of wonder at the material. The settings clearly have a bit of majesty in them but we lack the sweeping vistas and utter weird of the implied fantasy of other worlds that would have made this work. Even in "Rise of the Cybermen" you had HUNDREDS of zeppelins and airships flying around to accent the alienness of the world. Giving the Gypies (I'm sorry, Gyptians) all dirty clothes and bows doesn't make them exactly reak of a new culture either.

    Bizarrely, they actually treat a Polar Bear Kingdom with complete straight deadpan seriousness.

    Overall, I'm not entirely displeased with the movie. The lead child-actress acts the Hell out of the part despite the fact that everyone else is sleepwalking through their roles except for Nicole Kidman and Craig. I couldn't understand a word of what the damn girl was saying half-the-time but that's my fault for being unable to pierce her accent rather than any fault of her acting.

    Nicole Kidman absolutely slinks through the role and manags to
  22. Vortigern99 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 12, 2000
    star 5
    Charlemagne19, that is almost exactly how I feel/think about the film, except with the small inversion that I liked Daniel Craig's performance very much, but the little girl was only passable. Other than that, I couldn't agree more with just about every point you've made.

    Oh, and uh... Hugh Jackman? Did I blink and miss him??? Or did you mean Ian McKellan? There being only a slight difference between the two actors.... :D
  23. Charlemagne19 Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2000
    star 7
    I was told he was in the movie but turned out to be incorrect.
  24. Healer_Leona Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Jul 7, 2000
    star 9
    Grand ideas, often brilliantly stylized, nifty gadgets and CGI and still an overall dispappointment with no heart.

    I haven't read the books and plan to even more so now as there just seems to be so much missing with this film.



  25. raisedbywolves Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jul 1, 2005
    star 2
    Interesting discussion. I'm a big fan of the books and sort of figured the movie would be disappointing.

    Charlemagne's review depresses me the most, as it's obvious from its comments about things like the daemons and "Asriel's big reveal" at the end that these important elements of the story were given absolutely no emotional context.

    Haven't seen it yet, but now that I know about its... ummm... less satisfying aspects, I guess I can go enjoy the visuals.

    (As far as religion, yes this is an extremely anti-authoritarian coming-of-age story we're dealing with. Lyra loses her trust for her parents, her government, her church and in the end in her own innate abilities, one by one these are shown to be illusionary. She discovers she has to muddle through, just as we all do.)
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