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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Golden Compass

***½ The Golden Compass. Fantasy.

Directed by: Chris Weitz.
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards, Sam Elliott

We saw this at the Hercules.

This is a fantasy movie that takes place in a world where people's souls exist outside their bodies in the form of animals, and are called daemons. Our Heroine is a little orphaned girl named Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) who lives with her uncle (Daniel Craig) at Jordan College. He's going on an expedition to the north to study "dust". So when the mysterious Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman) says she is also going to the north and offers to take Lyra along, Lyra eagerly agrees.

Meanwhile, children have been disappearing, including, just before her trip, Lyra's best friend.

Turns out, the Magisterium, a sort of government body which is trying to suppress her uncle's research, is behind the disappearances: they're conducting experiments, separating children from their daemons.

Oh, and before he leaves, Lyra's uncle gives Lyra the golden compass of the title, which is supposed to tell the truth, but he doesn't know how it works. The Magisterium wants the golden compass, too.

As you can no doubt tell from my choppy summing-up, my biggest problem with The Golden Compass is that the movie is too short to adequately explain all the details. Or alternatively, that they tried to squeeze in too many details (presumably from the book--I haven't yet read it).

I don't know why the Magisterium wants to separate children from their daemons. I don't know why they want the golden compass. I don't know how it works or why Lyra is suddenly able to read it. I don't know why I'm supposed to care about dust. The witches and the armored ice bears came out of nowhere and I have no idea what they have to do with anything. I'd heard the movie was about preserving free will, but if it was, I didn't notice.

In the end, I had to give up trying to make sense of anything and just accept it and go with the adventure. It's a nice adventure. Well, except that it ends abruptly without resolving much of anything...except perhaps speculation about whether a sequel is planned. There are some cool airships, and fights with armored ice bears, and exciting sneaking around, and Sam Elliott being all Sam Elliott-y, which is always fun.

I'm glad I saw it, but I'm not going to get the DVD. Maybe I'll have more appreciation for it once I've read the book.

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Darla - I guess you'll be able to have the answers to all of your questions once you read the book. Maybe that help :)

I've not read the book, but I am looking forward to see The Golden Compass. :)
I want to watch this movie! BTW, I have passed you an award. ;)
Yes, it'll be interesting to see how the book is. It's in my TBR pile...somewhere.

Thanks, Melody!
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