The Golden Compass review by The Grim Ringler

The Golden Compass

As much as I love writing, as much as I love reading, and as much as I love movies, I can’t say the three always make for a great mix. Sure, there are some fantastic adaptations to books out there but, yeah, there are far more bad ones. Far more awful ones. The thing too is that the book that GOLDEN COMPASS comes from is from my favorite series of books and so it’s a bit of a dicey thing. I mean, I want the movie to do well and be good but, dammit, what are the odds? It turns out, pretty good.

COMPASS is the story of Lyra, a precocious young girl left to be raised by her uncle after her mother and father’s mysterious deaths. Lyra has no interest in being taught to be lady though and instead prowls the streets with her close friend, finding mischief where they’re able. When Lyra foils an attempt by a secretive government organization to assassinate her uncle she becomes entangled in a world she had never knew existed. On one side stands the government, which seeks to stamp out free will, and opposing them is Lyra’s uncle, who seeks to find the secret of the mysterious Dust, which holds within it the source of magic and free will. Lyra’s entanglement deepens when she becomes the object of interest for an agent of the government. Lyra has come into possession of a strange sort of compass which can tell the bearer, should they learn to read it, the answers to any questions they might have. The question Lyra wants the answer to though is how she can get away from the nefarious Ms. Coulter, and what has happened to the missing children from the city, one of them being her best friend. Even as Lyra escapes Ms. Coulter, trusting in the safety of the Gyptians (a people known for their secrecy and kinship to water) she only brings more enemies to her trail as it leads north to the land of polar bears and towards deeper mysteries

For me, the damn shame of this film won’t be that there were aspects of the book that were cut back (mainly the religious themes that were seen as too controversial, and obviously were) but that this film didn’t have the success it deserved. Too much attention was given to the controversial themes in the books and the film was lost. I think it was enormous mistake to release this around the holidays because I think it just brought more attention to the negative rhetoric. The character of Lyra is a fantastic one for young women and girls alike and comes alive as a real, honest character. This is a girl that won’t simply do and say what she’s told but who longs for freedom and knowledge. She’s dangerous in the way that all great heroes are – because she longs for Truth. Yes, there are still some ideas here that will bother some viewers, but dammit, don’t go to see it then. This is a fun, engaging, beautiful film and it has the spirit and soul that LION, WITCH, and the WARDROBE didn’t have when it was brought to film. There is just a richness here that really makes this a very good fantasy film. Too often we see fantasies released and they leave out the heart of the story and they sum up characters and don’t let them breathe. That isn’t the case here, and it was extremely refreshing. I just can’t say enough about the acting and filmmaking here. This is just a damn good fantasy, and a very good film for most, if not all, ages.

If I had any complaints, it would be the way this was released. It was supported, for sure, but to release a film with known controversial possibilities, around the holidays is ridiculous. Worse though was not enough was done to counter that. I don’t know how many times I saw online, or in the papers people talking about how the film was trying to covert children to atheism and pull them away from the church, and not once did I read anything to counter that. As for the film, I was put off by the ending which, though it fits, and worked, steals the thunder of the book’s ending which was, truly, a cliffhanger. The saddest thing of all of it, for me, is that, since the film did so poorly relative to what it cost to make, I just can’t see the trilogy being completed, which is a shame.

I can duly admit that this film, unlike many I have or will review, hits close to my heart due to how deeply I love the book it is based on. I dreaded the film after I read that some of the bigger themes were being messed with I was very worried but I went in with an open mind and was very pleasantly surprised. No, this isn’t a legendary film, but this is a very good film with heart, passion, and with a hint of a deeper, better story to come. I can ever appreciate the views of others, and the passion people have for their beliefs, but it’s always a shame to me when people will unite against things they know little about, stifling the same ideals that they fight so vigilantly for. Great movie. Silly controversy.


8 out of 10 Jackasses

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