Golden Compass Review

Well, I saw the Golden Compass.

I was a little bit unsure of what to think about this movie going into it. I’d heard about all the controversy surrounding it for the books’ anti-Christian themes, but I’ve never read the books. And I wanted to go into the movie with an open mind. And honestly? I wasn’t that impressed.

I could pick up right away what was supposed to be the evil church (the Magisterium) trying to sabotage the good people who just want to know the truth about the universe. I think, though, that was because I knew about the anti-Christian themes going into it. Besides that, there really wasn’t anything to show that the books were written as part of the author’s quest to destroy Christianity.

All that aside, how was the actual movie? It was decent. I’d give it a C. I got to see the trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian again, and that had me more excited than the actual movie did (literally — I was practically bouncing up and down in my seat with excitement). The movie had decent action sequences, although not enough, and I felt myself willing the movie forward. The plot was kind of tedious, and left the ending quite obviously open for another movie. There were no real awe-inducing visuals in my opinion, either. There also is not the feeling that Lyra’s quest is something that she needs to undertake. There’s mention of how she’s the child in a prophecy, but there is no sense of urgency there.

The biggest problem, however, was not the tedious plot or lack of action sequences or that there were no stunning visuals. It was missing that spark of magic, that sense of awe and wonderment you get from other fantasy movies like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter movies, and yes, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Those movies left you feeling awed, stunned, and the magic in those worlds seemed palpable and real. You left the theatre feeling as if these were real people, real events, and that if you poked around a few wardrobes in your house, you might just find Narnia, too. The Golden Compass did not have that spark of magic. You didn’t leave the theatre feeling awed and stunned. Whether this was due to the plot or the filmmaking, I don’t know exactly. Some movies have it. Some movies don’t. This didn’t.

All in all, I don’t see this having the mega-success that the Chronicles of Narnia has enjoyed. I’m sure it will do well at the box office, but I just don’t see it becoming an instant classic, a mega-blockbuster as I feel The Chronicles of Narnia, the Harry Potter series, and the Lord of the Rings trilogy were. It comes off as if the movie is trying very, very hard to be in that category, but it simply falls short. The plot isn’t as strong, the visuals not as stunning, and the magic is simply missing. I can’t speak for the books, as I haven’t read them. But the movie, in almost every way, is simply mediocre.

Re-posted from Cassy Fiano’s blog. You can read more of her writing at her blog and at Wizbang.

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