The Golden Compass (2007)

Director: Chris Weitz
Cast: Nicole KidmanDaniel CraigDakota Blue Richards, Eva Green
Plot: In a parallel universe, young Lyra journeys to the far North to save her best friend and other kidnapped children from terrible experiments by a mysterious organization.

Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Awards: Won 1 Oscar - Best Visual Effects. Nom. for 1 Oscar - Best Art Direction.
Runtime: 113min
Rating: PG for sequences of fantasy violence.



As with The Chronicles Of Narnia, The Golden Compass is set to be a trilogy of sorts. Both share similar characteristics – fantasy genre, talking creatures, CGI visuals, and unfortunately, both being sub-par films. The Golden Compass lacks the storytelling power of Narnia; the latter at least engages the viewers, but The Golden Compass will likely to bore kids, let alone parents who are forced to tag along. 

The CGI effects are a welcome relief, and to a certain extent, a notch better than what Narnia had to offer. Maybe it’s an individual weakness of mine, but I tend to dislike watching talking animals in a non-animated film. It’s a complete shun off; one would wonder how desperate I’d get if I were made to sit through Alvin And The(singing)Chipmunks.

Talking animals aside, The Golden Compass reminds instantly of another fantasy adventure released only a couple of months earlier – Stardust. The Golden Compass is inferior to Stardust in many aspects, and is most tangibly expressed through the casting. There is no doubt that Michelle Piffeffer sparkled in Stardust whereas Nicole Kidman is on a downslide to anonymity. 

Kidman’s losing her cinematic touch in recent years; she had to resort to acting pale and scared in The Invasion, apart from already being whitish enough. Daniel Craig and Eva Green should continue to be a part of Bond movies where they flourish beautifully, unlike in The Golden Compass.

Stardust has all the ingredients of an excellent fantasy feature. The Golden Compass, however, overcomes a lackluster first twenty minutes, only to fall victim to almost every cliché of the genre for most parts of the movie. It also came under severe religious backlash for its portrayal of humans with souls separated from their bodies, encapsulated in the form of, well, talking animals. I’m fine with the concept, but I’m certainly unhappy at the manner the film turned out to be. Don’t be fooled into watching the sequel.

GRADE: C- (5.5/10 or 2.5 stars)

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