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Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

3.7 42
Director: Chris Weitz

Cast: Nicole Kidman, Dakota Blue Richards, Daniel Craig


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A young girl embarks on a perilous journey to rescue her best friend and fight the forces of darkness in director Chris Weitz's adaptation of the first installment of author Philip Pullman's best-selling fantasy trilogy. Screen newcomer Dakota Blue Richards stars as


A young girl embarks on a perilous journey to rescue her best friend and fight the forces of darkness in director Chris Weitz's adaptation of the first installment of author Philip Pullman's best-selling fantasy trilogy. Screen newcomer Dakota Blue Richards stars as young heroine Lyra Belacqua, Casino Royale star Daniel Craig appears as Lyra's ruthless adventurer uncle, Lord Asriel, and Nicole Kidman assumes the glamorous guise of the villainous Mrs. Coulter.

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The His Dark Materials series has worn a fair share of hats since it was published in 1995. After making the gamut of British best-seller lists and performing well in the United States (a particularly impressive feat considering the Potter phenomenon), author Philip Pullman's fantasy series has been referred to as Lord of the Rings for tots, a highbrow version of Harry Potter, a courageous proponent of free thought, and an act of blasphemy designed to corrupt the souls of children. Unlike the Potter series' fanciful spiritual notions scattered about a stronger message of common-sense goodwill to others, His Dark Materials relies less on invoking the golden rule and more on questioning that which represents absolute authority, whether it be an ill-intentioned adult, organized religion, or God. It's no surprise that the announcement of a film adaptation of The Golden Compass, the first installation in the series, inspired its share of boycotts, blustery mass e-mails, and book burnings. Judging by the film's mediocre performance in theaters, the protestors were successful; however, The Golden Compass, while flawed, is a solid, thoughtful film. Ironically, one of the film's flaws is the lack of religious symbolism. While Compass contains the least amount of religious undertones in the trilogy, the film has next to none. It's difficult to determine exactly what the forces of good are rebelling against since the Magisterium was reduced from the fantasy world's version of the Catholic Church to a vague group of authoritarians who pop up occasionally to slip poison into wine and speak threateningly to wizened academics. Still, while most moviegoers wouldn't see religion as the antagonist (or be able to figure out what the heck "Dust" is), it's still easy enough to surmise that the battle is to maintain one's free will, and that free will is no less than the soul itself. Leading the charge in the adventure is Lyra, who is entrusted with a rare truth-measuring device called an alethiometer. Newcomer Dakota Blue Richards is perfect in the role; as in the book, she is plain enough to make her tall tales believable, and charismatic enough to befriend armored bears and toughened men. In Lyra's Oxford -- a parallel dimension resembling a scene from Victorian England with updated architecture and fancy zeppelins -- the human soul exists as a spiritually connected yet entirely physical animal referred to as a daemon. The idea of a human without a daemon is a highly disturbing and largely incomprehensible thought among Lyra's world, with the exception of the powerful Magisterium, who find the notion of easily controlled (albeit soulless) human automatons quite desirable indeed. Claiming they are merely preserving innocence, they enlist the ambitious Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman) to kidnap impoverished children and use them to help perfect the process of splitting the daemon from the body. Kidman displays just the right amount of rage threatening to betray her otherwise icily elegant exterior, excluding a moment in which she slaps her daemon (which is not in the book, and who slaps their own soul, anyway?); it's a pleasure to watch her unravel as Lyra slowly but surely destroys what she worked so hard to build. Though the film ends two or fifteen chapters earlier than the book, and despite a speech from Lyra that comes across as very set-up-for-sequel-in-two-minutes-or-less, Compass, on the whole, is a great adventure with two important morals: think for yourself and don't cross an angry polar bear.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
New Line Home Video
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound]

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The Golden Compass 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 41 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not being one who seeks out the seemingly endless line of Harry Potter/Narnia/Lord of the Rings tropes (a little computer generated monster realm goes a long way), THE GOLDEN COMPASS came somewhat as a pleasant surprise. Yes, this is still a fantasy film, but the emphasis is more on stylish creation of various animals (in the forms of 'daemons' that accompany children as their souls, morphing into various animal life at will) than tiresome explosions and flying beasties. Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) is clearly the star of this adventure that explores the possibility of other, parallel worlds whose interaction with the world as we know it is controlled by various groups of good guys and bad guys, all seeking the source of secrecy contained in a Golden Compass that can only be read by a single girl - Lyra, a poor child living in the presence of scholars. Lyra's uncle, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) places the Golden Compass in Lyra's knowing hands and heads off to the far North to investigate the element that binds all life together - Dust. The tale is set in motion by the enigmatic Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman) who gains Lyra's confidence and offers to take her to the great North. All manner of adventures occur on the journey - friends of Lyra's are threatened to be separated from their various daemons in the cruel hands of the bad guys, Lyra's encounter with a witch Serafina Pekkala (Eva Green), her assistance from a friendly astronaut (Sam Elliott) and an armored bear - and with all fantasies, good prevails - or does it? Tune in for the very obvious next installment. The pleasures are many, not the least of which are the voices and changing forms of the little animal daemons. The cast is excellent and the whole movie sails with yet another beautiful musical score by Alexandre Desplat. It is a nice diversion, but you have to love fantasy. Grady Harp
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have never read The Golden Compass, and are looking for a fantastic fanatsy to watch with your kids, this is a great movie. However - if you are looking for a film that will give justice to the novels of Mr Pullman, you will be severely dissapointed. I began reading this series when I was 11, and have reread it many times since then, always being enthralled and captured by the wonder of the book. The film was okay. They cut out many important parts of the book, starting, literally, from the opening scene. I believe it was done this way to help diminsh the huge amount of controversy that has surrounded his work ever since whisper of a film came to be - mostly on part by the church. If you want to experience the tale of Lyra and her friends for what it truly is, then pick up the book. If you are not looking to be impressed, then rent the film.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Warning to those with older Receivers. This Blu-Ray disk only has a DTS audio soundtrack in English. If you have a Receiver, like I do, that only decodes Dolby Digital 5.1, there is no audio output.

The rest of this review is for the clueless producers of this Blu-Ray disk. Obviously they have learned nothing from the costly lost sales of the war with HD-DVD. People like me are not going to buy an expensive new Receiver just to play a particular movie on Blu-Ray. Especially with six audio formats to cover and perhaps more to come! I will rent this movie on DVD and wait for the audio wars to end. Since Blu-Ray has plenty of capacity, I do not see any reason why an English Dolby 5.1 soundtrack could not be included to ensure backwards compatibility. Particularly since Dolby 5.1 is already provided on this disk in other languages. From reading various blogs and reviews, I know I am not the only potential lost sale.
kd5 More than 1 year ago
It's a tragedy they were never allowed to film the successive parts to this story. My wife & I both enjoyed this movie tremendously and (gasp!) we never read the books. -kd5-
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The movie was entertaining but I had expected more.
GinnieInLongBeach More than 1 year ago
This was a sought after gift idea to accompany a Golden Compass statue. It was used as a sillent auction gift. Sorry, no other comments.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone knows that sometimes basing movies can be good if done right. However, I found that most of the parts like everyone else said: Missing parts from the book, details from the origonal plot and all that. I also aspire to the CGI'd Polar Bears and other creatures that went on in the movie. The Graphics are decent, I have yet to play the game, however, the movie was decent. Plot is good, but created a few Plotholes that are not supposed to be added, I think the Movie had some of the plot taken out of the book, wich was considered a Plothole and confused some of the lovers of the book. If you are going to do the sequel, I suggest looking into the book further..
Guest More than 1 year ago
the movie has all this suspense and thrills that came out of the beloved book but some things may seem off. the movie makes a transaction from a simple kids movie to adult in a matter of seconds in the movies last hour which makes it all the better. the movie was good and i highly recommend it to make the sequel come to theathers soon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the movie, but the ending was weak. I hope there is a sequel in the works.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you have ever read the book, you will be disappointed. It does things in a different order than in the book. It also ends before the ending in the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
In a way I feel this movie, like the latest installments of the Harry Potter sequels, was written not for the average moviegoer but instead for the person who has already read the books, loves them, and wants to see a Cliff Notes version on the big screen. While that's great for those fans, for those of us who haven't read the books the story ends up feeling disjointed and unengaging. I had not read the books, nor do I intend to after watching this ghastly movie. If it weren't for the 10 year old who was part of our group, we all would have left after 45 minutes of the drivel put up on screen. The characters were not at all compelling, the plot was not engaging and while the VFX were interesting, good VFX aren't enough to sell a movie in this age where great CGI is a given. In the nature of sequalized movies, the ending felt abrupt with the intent of leaving the viewer wanting more. I thought there could have been some potential if the director hadn't been so intent on relying on VFX to tell the story, particularly the drawn out all green screen/CGI action sequences. But in reality the movie was ruined long before the climactic bear fight and North Pole battle. Maybe it was because Mrs. Coulter (Kidman) played such a cold woman that it was hard to find her engaging, even as a villian. Maybe it was because Lord Asriel (Craig) spent roughly 8 minutes on screen. Maybe it's because I didn't read the books and walk in already loving something I hadn't seen. Regardless, I thought it was a poor movie and one I look forward to ignoring completely for the rest of my days.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie was well... ok, but there was so many things that was cut out of the book. The book was amazing and the movie did not show that. It was almost as if it was a whole different story from the book except for the basic things. Somethings where changed and and the ending was too unexpected. The movie was great, but was nothing like the book.
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