Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Golden Compass movie review

Earlier, I wrote spoiler reviews of The Golden Compass and the rest of His Dark Materials. I expected to leave it at that, since I'm not really into movies. But long story short, I ended up seeing the movie. So I feel I should write a review.

So, overall, not so great. It's like the Harry Potter movies in that they're glossing over a very complicated storyline, inevitably resulting in quite a few plot holes that would be unexplained had you not read the book. Unlike the Harry Potter movies, most people have not read the books. You might gather that I didn't particularly like the Harry Potter movies, and you'd gather correctly. For example, there is a scene where Lord Asriel gets captured while in the North. The next time we see him, he's in a cabin trying to find a way between parallel universes. I don't remember the book well enough to be able to explain this discontinuity.

The whole thing felt a rushed. The scenes seemed to be tossed together in a random order, with little connection between them. It was difficult to keep track of the many characters. The anti-authority theme seemed tacked-on and disconnected from the actual plot. The worst of it was that there was no ending to the movie. Well, I expected this, since the book was the same way. The characters spent the last five minutes explaining what they were going to do, and then it ended. I'm not saying I can think of a better way to have done it, but the end result just isn't so good.

You will be further disappointed to hear that it is unlikely that they will actually make the sequel to this movie. The making of a sequel depended on the financial success of the first movie. This movie was not very successful. But then again, Hollywood seems awfully fond of making poor sequels, so you never know. I'm not going to lament the lack of a sequel when they make movies so poorly.

As for the anti-religious themes (since that was the focus of my previous reviews), there is not much. Well, the Magisterium is very clearly a fictional form of the Church--you can tell that just from the costumes. It comes off as a little anti-clerical, but this is nothing new in fiction. Seriously, there was about as much anti-clericalism in Happy Feet. This movie was not worth boycotting. Nor was it worth all the hype it got in the blogosphere.