On Wednesday night Joe and I went to a free screening of The Golden Compass, a fantasy film based on the novel Northern Lights by Philip Pullman. This film has gotten a lot of buzz, so there was a huge turnout for the screening. I just wish more of the audience had bothered to bathe and use deodorant before heading to the theater, because there were several people near us that smelled like ass.
Now on with the show! The movie is about a stubborn girl named Lyra and her quest to rescue her missing friends, help her explorer uncle Asriel (Daniel Craig), and figure out how to read the Golden Compass, a banned device designed to intuit the truth. Early in the film, Lyra meets Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman), a gorgeous and cunning woman who manages to charm everyone into doing what she wants. Mrs. Coulter is rather dangerous, as Lyra quickly discovers.
The story is set in an alternate reality where souls are represented by animal companions, known as daemons. Lyra’s daemon, like those of other kids, morphs frequently into different animals based on its host’s mental and emotional state. Her daemon, Pan, changes from an ermine to a bobcat to a mouse. I like the idea of our souls being represented by an animal, as it reminds me of my animal medicine cards. The official website for the movie has an interactive feature where you can meet your daemon. I took the test and my daemon is Myron, an ermine. Isn’t he cute? (And yes, that’s my real name on there. Shh! Don’t tell anyone.)
I got a big kick out of the ice (polar) bears, especially the whiskey-loving Iorek Byrnison, voiced by Ian McKellen. They were fierce and feisty, which I appreciate in a bear. I have to admit, though, that I kept waiting for the bears to start guzzling Cokes. I guess this is another example of good marketing campaigns, seeing as I now associate big white bears with a bottle of Coca Cola. Joe and I kept whispering jokes to each other about appropriate moments in the action when the characters could share a Coke and a smile with the ice bears.
There’s been some controversy surrounding this film, with the Catholic League encouraging people to boycott the film. Apparently the novels written by Philip Pullman are more anti-religion, and the League is claiming that this component has been watered down in the movie so that kids will buy the book, read all the atheist stuff, and stop believing in God. Sigh. Didn’t these people learn anything from The Passion of the Christ and The Last Temptation of Christ? Wouldn’t it be more productive for the Catholic League to focus on helping to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and heal the sick, rather than what Hollywood’s doing? Or am I talking crazy again?
I love fantasy films such as The Chronicles of Narnia and anything Harry Potter. The magical elements, the scenery, the British accents (ever notice how all the really good fantasy films usually involve British accents?) – it’s all super fun to watch. For that reason, The Golden Compass did not disappoint me. I’m looking forward to seeing the next two films, and I’ll probably read the books as well.
I did have some issues with the editing, though. I felt as if the director was rushing me through some of the background in order to get to the action scenes. I ended up with a lot of questions, which fortunately the movie’s website answered for me.
All in all, I enjoyed the movie and would recommend it to anyone that loves a good fantasy flick. If your kids are 8 and older, they would probably enjoy this movie, too. Just make sure everyone wears pit stick, okay? Thanks. Grade: B+