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The Golden Compass

6/10
Family . Fantasy . Adventure
 

After overhearing a shocking secret, precocious orphan Lyra Belacqua trades her carefree existence roaming the halls of Jordan College for an otherworldly adventure in the far North, unaware that it's part of her destiny.

 
Actors: Daniel Craig , Nicole Kidman , Magda Szubanski , Simon McBurney , Ben Walker , Derek Jacobi , Tom Courtenay , Sam Elliott , Eva Green , Dakota Blue Richards
Directors: Chris Weitz
Country: USA , UK
Release: 2007-12-07
More Info:
  • Roger Ebert

    A darker, deeper fantasy epic than the "Rings" trilogy, "The Chronicles of Narnia" or the "Potter" films. It springs from the same British world of quasi-philosophical magic, but creates more complex villains and poses more intriguing questions. As a visual experience, it is superb. As an escapist fantasy, it is challenging.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Jack Mathews

    Represents the year's biggest gamble - and it delivers the year's biggest and most ambitious fantasy.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Tasha Robinson

    It’s pure introductory adventure, meant to immerse readers in Pullman’s richly complicated fantasy universe.

    Chicago Tribune Full Review
  • Steven Rea

    If Weitz's Golden Compass feels, at times, too crammed with exposition and big set pieces, the film nonetheless works far more successfully than the first Potter pic - the leaden "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" - did translating its source material.

    Philadelphia Inquirer Full Review
  • Liam Lacey

    A demanding blend of spectacle, drama and exposition of ideas.

    The Globe and Mail (Toronto) Full Review
  • Michael Sragow

    Weitz doesn't manage Pullman's feat of being rational and magical simultaneously. But he rapidly and intelligently opens up Pullman's world.

    Baltimore Sun Full Review
  • Kirk Honeycutt

    A "soft" epic, a film touching on childhood fantasies with sturdy, unwavering characters driven to evil or good. More "Harry Potter," in other words, than "Beowulf."

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Kimberley Jones

    There are significant stretches of talky tedium, more than a few “huh” moments for neophytes – especially whenever anyone starts nattering on about Dust with a capital D – and the ending plays abruptly, but there’s plenty here to hang a franchise on.

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Ty Burr

    At times you feel Weitz flipping the pages and dog-earing wildly, and that's a shame: This is a movie that needs to be lengthy and discursive, the better to duck into the back alleys of its invention. A visionary is required. This director isn't one.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • James Berardinelli

    One key missing element: the world in which this story takes place never feels unique. We aren't drawn into it the way we were with Middle Earth or Hogwarts. In fact, with all the airships flying around, there are times when it feels like an extension of Stardust.

    ReelViews Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    Ultimately satisfying and successful version of the opening volume of the celebrated "His Dark Materials" trilogy.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Richard Corliss

    There's something missing, beyond the iconoclastic theology, in this perfectly OK, blandly underwhelming superproduction. The movie lacks an elevating passion, a cohesive vision, a soul. It's as if The Golden Compass has misplaced its artistic compass. Somebody stole its daemon.

    Time Full Review
  • Keith Phipps

    The Golden Compass does manage the job of bringing Pullman's world to the screen. With luck, any future entries will try harder to get the job done right.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Rene Rodriguez

    The Golden Compass comes close, and its originality cannot be denied, but it never quite crosses over into your heart. It stops at your eyes.

    Miami Herald Full Review
  • Maitland McDonagh

    For all the complicated backstory, weighty themes, action set pieces and fanciful production design, the film is oddly unengaging.

    TV Guide Full Review
  • Claudia Puig

    Disappoints with its lack of character development and convoluted storytelling.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Deborah Day

    Ultimately fails as a film in its broad strokes and inadequate scene development.

    Premiere Full Review
  • Owen Gleiberman

    The Golden Compass is a snowbound mystical-whizbang kiddie ride that hovers somewhere between the loopy and the lugubrious.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Paula Nechak

    The film is dominated by computer-generated effects and they're most of its problem -- they don't give us anything to emotionally attach to or invest in.

    Seattle Post-Intelligencer Full Review
  • Manohla Dargis

    Has many of the virtues of a faithful screen adaptation and many of the predictable flaws.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Todd McCarthy

    Impressively rendered but oddly uninviting adventure.

    Variety Full Review
  • Joe Morgenstern

    Looks magical, seethes with elusive profundities and makes remarkably little sense, though the murkiness makes perfect sense on a shallower level.

    Wall Street Journal Full Review
  • J.R. Jones

    An innocuous, passably entertaining effects extravaganza.

    Chicago Reader Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    The Golden Compass is a blatant attempt to duplicate the success of the "Harry Potter" franchise. The only thing missing is richly imagined characters, a comprehensible story line, good acting, and satisfying special effects.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Pete Vonder Haar

    Not only did those so-called "demons" take the form of animals, but they actually talked!

    Film Threat Full Review
  • Olly Richards

    A crushing disappointment for fans and a scuppered opportunity for a cinematic event. That the first book has been so mishandled doesn’t bode well for the (already greenlit) more complicated ones to come.

    Empire Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    Whatever complex or interesting ideas might have been found in the source material have been watered down, skimmed over, mashed into nonsense or simply ignored.

    Salon.com Full Review
  • Michelle Orange

    In drawing and quartering much of the novel's intent, Weitz ends up with a film that feels not just unfinished but undone.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Dana Stevens

    A tepid, jumbled Hollywood fable whose final message seems to amount to little more than "Follow your dreams," or worse, "Stay tuned for the sequel."

    Slate Full Review
  • Stephen Hunter

    The movie simply delivers too many colorfuls for its own good, none of whom establish a true emotional identity, and thus it isn't moving, it's busy. Busy, busy, busy.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    Me, I just think it blows. What does it matter if you spend millions on a movie - love the talking, battling bears! - if the effects are cheesy, the story runs off on tangents and after watching the movie fail utterly to be the next Lord of the Rings, you just want to go home.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Kyle Smith

    Five minutes before The Golden Compass started, I was wondering when it was going to start. Forty minutes into it, I was wondering exactly the same thing.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Lawrence Toppman

    The final sad joke is this: Weitz took a wonderful story about the danger of severing a soul from its otherwise empty body and did that very thing to his source.

    Charlotte Observer Full Review
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