The Golden Compass

I saw the bargain matinee of the first in Philip Pullman's fantasy trilogy today. Here's my short review:

An entertaining, if mediocre, comic book fantasy film featuring a blurred battle between good and evil.

Here’s a little more:

The special effects:

  • Wonderful – realistic and awe-inspiring. The talking animals really looked like they were talking!
The film:
  • I was engaged through most of this feature. At times the comic-book editing made the action feel stilted and the acting less than great. I didn’t feel, though, that the characters had much of a chance to develop.
The book:
What’s got some people up in arms?
  • The talk is that the other books in Philip Pullmans’s His Dark Materials trilogy have a much more sinister anti-religion position. This one, though toned down from the books, (I’ve only heard that – not experienced it by reading the books just yet) still has an element of disdain for organized religion. It feels like "The Magesterium" wants to make everyone believe and act the way they want. Any who exercise free thinking and questions about what the Magesterium says is classified as an enemy. It feels like Pullman’s issue is with a "church" that would indoctrinate people, stifle any kind of questions and expect everyone to follow the "company policy" without question.
Favorite Characters:
Talking points:
  • Is it OK to question what the church says? What questions do you have about what the Church says?
  • If it is OK – are there some questions that are appropriate and some that are out of bounds? Give some examples.
  • Is there a danger in free-thinking? What do you think the danger is?
  • What is there to learn from asking "out of bounds" faith questions?
Lots to talk about. And with all that, I think this film is worth the price of admission -- but it's not a classic.


Peter said...

I saw yesterday that Roger Ebert gave it five stars. (Good to see Roger back at work, too!)

Meanwhile, here in the buckle of the Bible Belt, a local TV news affiliate's viewer poll had 80% of respondents saying they would not see the movie, presumably due to purported atheist undertones.

Kirk said...

I've usually agreed with Roger Ebert's reviews. Not this time, I guess -- and it is great to have Roger reviewing again!)

I wonder what the box office results in the the buckle will be?