I never planned to see this movie. I remember seeing the preview and the only thought was 'Wow Nicole Kidman is hot!'
It wasn't 'man I really need to see this movie' or that I kinda wanted to see it. In fact I had not even deemed it to be Netflix or Redbox fodder. I had no idea what it was about and had not heard any glowing reviews. It would have went unwatched by me if it wasn't for my decision to buy Wedding Crashers. If I were you and I was reading this review I would think... "Wedding Crashers? How does Wedding Crashers have anything to do with a little girl and her compass?" Well I do not have a good answer for that, it seemed odd to me as well but as I opened the case for Wedding Crashers earlier this week a free movie ticket fell in my lap. It was from http://www.hollywoodmoviemoney.com and they had placed a free ticket to a children's movie inside one aimed at adults. Nothing but sheer brilliance. Anyway... a free ticket was all I needed. I logged on to their site to see where I could see this movie and then ran errands until it was time to get my ticket. I walked up handed the girl my free pass and she handed me a real ticket. I grabbed some ice cream and then headed to the theater and found my seat. I was the first one there and wondered if anyone else would come. Within mere moments my question was answered as people flooded the small theater and nearly all the seats were taken. We watched the in depth previews that told you about a movie or an upcoming new TV show. Then we saw the commercials, a thing I just love.... I pay 9 bucks normally to see a movie I do not need to see commercials on top of it. It's just rude. Anyway then we saw the movie trailers and about the time I was wondering what exactly it was that I was seeing the movie started. Now I know, mainly due to the little girl near me, that this was based on a book. I also know, thanks to that same little girl that they cut out a lot of the book..... which is standard for Hollywood. Other then that I knew nothing about the movie. So with that in your head... here is the Rambling Review of The Golden Compass.
As the story goes, there are a lot of worlds. Some are similar to ours and others are not so similar the only thing linking them together is dust. Thank the good lord for Dyson. Anyway this dust is all sparkly and magical and stuff and it seems to be something you can't really see. The world we delve into is a world where people's souls are in physical form in the shape of animals called daemons and they hang out with the person. A few people know that dust exists and they build a bunch of devices that can read it called alethiometer or the Golden Compass. There are evil rich people (rich people are always evil) that control the world and what people do and they are called the Magisterium. When we enter this world we meet a little girl named Lyra Belacqua and she is playing with a big group of children who are chasing her best friend, Roger. She makes up a tale to slip her friend out of trouble and you get the feeling this girl is special, of course if you came to watch a movie about a regular little girl you probably don't see fantasy movies often. Due to the wee fabrication she made up she has to sneak into the faculty room of her school and steal a teachers cloak. While she is in exploring around with her daemon, named Pantalaimon, they hear people coming so they hide in a cloak closet where she overhears a devious little Magisterium guy talking to the head master. He wants the school to not give support to her uncle Lord Asriel on his mission that involves dust, something Lyra knows nothing about. Lord Asriel found dust and wants to go explore it and see if he can find a way to visit other worlds. The Magisterium hates people knowing about dust and tries to poison his wine but Lyra saves him in time. She has to hide again in the coat closet as her uncle shows his proof and tries to get the money for his expedition and experiment. The school defies the Magisterium and gives him the money and Lord Asriel takes off for the North Pole area, land of the Ice Bears. We find out shortly after this scene that there are other dangers out there that are snatching children called gobblers. Lyra promises her friend Roger that if he is ever taken by the Gobblers that she would come find him. That is when Mrs. Coulter enters the picture and she whisks Lyra away to go North with her at the same time as Roger and another boy go missing unbeknown to Lyra. Lyra is excited to go North with Mrs. Coulter and does not notice that she seems a wee bit dangerous. Just before Lyra leaves the school, the head master hands her the Golden Compass. Only certain people can use this device and the head master is not one of them so he can only tell her that it will always tell the truth and that she must keep it a secret from Mrs. Coulter. She is with Mrs. Coulter for a few days before she realizes Mrs. Coulter is extremely dangerous and barely manages to escape her clutches. Then almost ends up in the hands of the Gobblers. Mrs. Coulter is the person in charge of the Gobblers so she would end up back with Mrs. Coulter if it wasn't for the Gyptians. The gyptians come in and kill the gobblers and take her away from danger. One of the Gyptians was the mother of the boy that was taken with Roger so she wants to get him back and exact a wee bit of revenge as do the rest of the Gyptians. They were keeping an eye on her as a favor to her uncle Lord Asriel and it is a good thing. She decides to let them know about her compass and uses it to figure out where the missing children get taken and it just so happens to be in the North Pole area. When they arrive in the North she runs into a pilot who aligns himself with her and a big bear as well. They take off to find and liberate the lost children and a lot happens along the way. She uses her quick thinking to get her out of a lot of trouble. She finds the Gyptian boy who has been forcibly separated from his daemon and he is in bad shape. They now know what is happening to the missing children and they know they have to stop it. That is when they get attacked and Lyra gets kidnapped and sold to the Ice Bear King who is a bit unbalanced. He wants a daemon of his own, apparently people have daemons but ice bears do not, and he also hates her bear friend and is the reason her bear friend is not the king of the Ice Bears. He beat him in combat and disgraced him. That is as far as I am taking you... The end is a set up for a sequel which is fine because I want to see it.
I did not read the book so I can't tell you how well it follows but that little girl near me said there was a lot more to the first book that sets it up better for the second book. I thought where they left it was fine but I have read my fair share of books before seeing a movie and know too well the disappointment this girl felt. I was, on the other hand, genuinely surprised that it seemed so well done. The girl that played Lyra was very good. I thoroughly liked her character and thought the girl looked mischievous and brave in all the right spots. The bear cgi was good and it looked fairly believable to me. The daemons were all interesting additions to the character and told you a lot about the people. Which was probably the point... Apparently another key factor is that children's daemons can change shape but an adult has picked it's shape already and can no longer change. It was interesting to watch Lyra's daemon change all the time, it let you know a little about how she was feeling. The thing is she was always braver then the daemon was, she was also very defiant and decisive. She would do what she thought best and tended to let the worrying be done by her daemon.
I would definitely recommend this movie. It was better then the first Narnia movie and it totally brought me in to it's world and even though I had to piece a few things out afterwards I was thoroughly enthralled. I liked it. I would be interested in hearing from anyone who has seen the movie and also read the book. If you fall under this heading just click on comment and type away.
It is a kids movie but there is fighting and definitely some freaky moments. I think I even jumped when a child's daemon was snatched by another daemon. I think it is a movie that is meant for a little older child. I do believe it is a movie that parents and other adults could stand too watch as well. Some may even like it.....