I thought the movie just fell flat. I didn't get any sense of urgency about why the characters were doing what they were doing. I think it spent too little time setting up the story so that all the events that happened after the set up seemed unimportant. There just seemed to be no emphasis. When they find Billy Costa without his daemon, the scene should be utterly heartbraking and distressing. Instead it felt more like "ok, kid lost his rat, big deal."
Also, the world didn't seem integrated. In the books, a world where talking polar bears, gyptians, and witches lived together seemed completely natural. In the movie it feels forced and weird for the sake of being weird.
Total nitpick - The CGI didn't feel real to me. It looked like actors standing on a soundstage with a background. For example: Svalbard. Lyra is walking around in brutally harsh weather yet you don't see her breath in the cold air, there's no frost on her, and her cheeks are nice and rosy.
I thought Joshualee's review was right on. Thought the casting was perfect, but overall I give a rating of "meh".
I think what the creators of LOTR did and the Golden Compass didn't was to give it the full dork treatment. i.e. Saying I don't care what criticism I get about being a sci-fi fantasy loving dork, these books rock and I am going to make them as close in spirit as I can. I don't blame the religous groups being cautious about these books (not that I support them), there is some seriously subversive (and blatantly so) material here. I don't see how the next two books can be made without dealing with the "God" issue.
Well, the ideal situation is to have fantasy obsessed geeks making the movies so they follow the books religously.. no pun intended. I think either the studios were to scared or the director didn't care enough and that's why the details suffered.
You are totally right about the lack of follow up on the elements and the inattention to realisim with the CGI. The only time in the whole movie I actually felt cold was the scene with Billy Costa and I think that was more of my prior knowledge than anything they set up in the movie. They never really showed the fact that the Daemons are physical manifestations of peoples souls. That the truth about what the Gobblers are doing, is removing a huge part of these children's souls and forcing them to live like zombies. The seriousness of the situation never really transmitted in the film. It felt too... feckless,fey...? I'm not sure what word I want to use. The whole situation is dire and yet you never truly feel that way in the movie.
I have yet to see this and it is driving me crazy. Christmas is a hectic time for me since I work in retail. My husband took the kids to it on Saturday and they all liked it. Of course you are going to compare it to the books if you have read them, but he thinks they made a good attempt. My boys loved the polar bear fight. I hope to see it some time this week.
Thanks for all the reviews everybody. I have enjoyed reading them.
I really liked it up till they cut the entire ending...
Ditto. I don't think they are going to film the second or third one though because New Line just settled with Peter Jackson and gave a green light to a movie version of the Hobbit. They lost so much money on Compass they will probably stick with their cash cow LOTR for the near future. ::sigh:: So sad. The movie had so much promise till the end.