Movie Review: The Golden Compass

Josh LexingtonTuesday, October 30, 2007
This post is part of Push the Third Button Twice, a ~2 month adventure where I would write parody articles based on the news as it happened — in 15 minutes or less. The posts are credited to my a fictional "staff", but they're actually all me. I apologize in advance.

You may have heard about the new movie starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig, called “The Golden Compass”. It’s based on the novel by British author Philip Pullman, about a little girl named Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) who is given a mystical golden compass, and is sent on a long and dangerous quest to icy lands of the north to try and kill God.

Yes, that’s right. While the trailers may try and give the impression this movie is about polar bears and flying ships and witches, the real focus is on killing God, and a few Catholic bishops. Hollywood’s deception is understandable: would you go to the theatre knowing you were going to get 30 minutes of amazing special effects and battle sequences, only to be faced with 98 more minutes of Lyra sitting in a room debating theology with Christopher Lee? This is a movie that tries to pander to the thinking elite at the expense of the general movie-going public, and suffers greatly for it.

Nicole Kidman’s Mrs Coulter is both the worst and best part of the film: her lines are bland, her delivery wooden, and her development as a character is (at best) confused. However, when she straps on her ruby-trimmed shoes and provides a lively song-and-dance routine in the midst of the deity-dashing, it evokes all that made “Moulin Rouge” passable.

Daniel Craig’s turn as Lord Azriel is enjoyable, but brief (he appears in the first 10 minutes and then not again until the end credits, where he and Eddie Murphy do a hilarious cover of “Killing Me Softly” with Elton John on hamonica). Christopher Lee virtually IS God, so you feel bad when he dies at the end. It wasn’t until the closing credits that I realized that the armoured bear Iorek Byrnison was voiced by Richard Dawkins, which made the final battle between the Pope and the Panserbjørne all the more entertaining.

The special effects were good, if not great. The real credit should go to the animal trainers who were able to make those polar bears walk and talk and fight so convincingly. Not since “Benji the Hunted” have animals been so interesting on film.

Overall, if you are looking for a good movie to watch to brainwash the kids into hating religion and cursing the name of God and all that is good and holy in the world, “The Golden Compass” may be your cup of tea. Also a good break-up movie if you’re dating a Baptist.

“The Golden Compass” opens in December, or so we hear.

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