Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Golden Compass

The Golden Compass movie was visually exciting and included in passing some fun creative alternate-world-technology. Really, with the Panserbjorn and daemons, there was no way it could be a complete dud in the age of computer animation. But I suspect the plot would have been utterly baffling to anyone who hadn’t already read the book, and it was incredibly shallow in comparison- even if they’d been willing to make an overtly anti-religious movie (out at Christmastime at that!) there wouldn’t have been time to get it in.

I knew from the trailer that they’d made Lyra pretty, which I wasn’t all too thrilled about, but I was glad to find that they hadn’t completely whitewashed her character. Some of the casting was hard to take (Lord Asrael was a tweedy academic; he should have been much more imposing) but Mrs. Coulter, perhaps the most complicated character to try to portray, was quite well done.

The biggest shock though- they ended the movie a couple chapters early, so it concludes on an excited/ celebratory note. Not only does this completely change the story’s tone, but it fails to impart one of the biggest themes of the entire trilogy. If they’re planning to make the sequels, they’re going to have a hard time now; they’ll have to begin the next movie with a horrific betrayal with little space for setting it up, and given the downplaying of general evil in this movie (they avoided killing any children), it’s going to be tough to pull off.

1 comment:

poz said...

I agree pretty much entirely with your review. There simply isn't enough time to cover Lyra's universe to the depth and breadth of the novel.

They did an admirable job of hitting major plot points, but they ended up rushed and I therefore didn't care much about any one event.

I was never sure how they were going to end the movie. The novel's end isn't an ending at all. The Macguffin (Asriel) is never reached. So, they did OK, I guess because at least they left with at least a little closure.