The Golden Compass
by Rick Villalobos
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The Lord of the Rings trilogy has left an empty space in our stomachs that has yet to be filled by another big screen blockbuster. (Yes, the stale popcorn and flat soda pop have been successful digested, but…) The same cinematic magic has been difficult to accomplish with other films—i.e.: The Lion, the Witch, and Wardrobe and the dragon-based picture Eragon. Unfortunately, everything that we have swallowed so far has been like a big pill—dry and nauseating. While these book-to-film adaptations earn credibility at the box office the world of fantasy endures an irksome story line filled with witches, talking creatures, and a savior or two.
The Golden Compass is a bland fairy-tale poorly designed for any make-believe world. Lyra is a young orphan placed in a land where humans and spirit animals or daemons coexist as one. Together and aided by a group of rebels known as the Gyptians they join in on an adventure that will determine the fate of the world. Throw in the notion of free will and a mystical dust that is blurred of any context and it becomes a brain teaser. Although the story sounds good on paper its fabricated attempt is mediocre. The visual effects are amusing enough to suffer through, but there is nothing innovative there. The characters are appealing, but very similar to those that we have seen before.
There is a charm to this tragedy—the exceptional performance by actress Dakota Blue Richards. Along with a notable cast (Mr. 007 himself—Daniel Craig, Ian Mckellen as the polar bear king, and the golden villain Nicole Kidman) the young Ms. Richards saves the day like a true super hero did once upon a time.
Many have condemned this film prior to its release as something of an anti-Christians attempt to destroy God and faith. The fact is—Hollywood and religion are like two unhappy children playing at opposite ends of the playground. Sadly, there will always be a controversial platform where both will meet and neither will find an end to their argument. Atheist and Christians should share a plate of theatre nachos and consider seeing this fancy epic—at least for the mere gesture of it all.
British author Phillip Pullman can be assured that his fantasy is more credibly read from cover to cover than watched from screen to screen.
Rick Villalobos is a film critic and freelance writer living in Chicago.
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