The Golden Compass

...The Adventure Begins...

This is clearly Part 1. The end of the movie makes no bones about it, so I hope you are a fan of the book and have a glimmer about this story. In our jam-packed audience last night, there was a significant number of fans of the book. They knew the characters and cheered at the appropriate times. I was as interested by the audience as I was by the Computer Generated Imaging on the screen.

From book to screen, this project has had more ups and downs than a Duncan yoyo; the director was hired, fired and hired again. The adaptation was completed, thrown away, a new adaptation done but modified by the director; young voice actors hired and fired as their voices changed before filming started.

This world is very different from ours and quite complex. Each human is always accompanied by his or her own personal "daemon" who perishes when the human does; if the daemon is choked, the human suffers, etc., etc... The daemons for the men have female personas and vice versa. Ya got that? The main character, a charming little girl named Lyra, played by Dakota Blue Richards in her first film role, is accompanied by her daemon named Pantalaimon, voiced by Freddie Highmore ("August Rush" and "Finding Neverland"). She is entrusted with the eponymous Golden Compass by Lord Asrial, played by Daniel Craig ("Layer Cake" and "Casino Royale") who is in only two or three scenes. It is clear from the ending of the movie however, that he will be playing a significantly larger part in the next chapter.

The villainess is Marisa Coulter, played by Nichole Kidman ("Cold Mountain" and "Birthday Girl"). She is in cahoots with an organization called "The Majesterium" which is a thinly disguised version of the Catholic Church, as they do battle against "independent thought." The plan, which is very convoluted, seems to be that they are kidnapping children, and separating them from their daemons which is horrifying to all parties involved. There is an army of polar bears with the "head bear" (Did I just say that?), Iorek Byrnison, voiced by Ian McKellen ("X-Men" and "Lord of the Rings") leading the final charge into the final (CGI) battle of the movie. The voiceover makes it clear, however, that more battles are to come.

Actually, I thought I was in Narnia with Aslan the Lion, being voiced by Liam Neeson...which by the way, is coming out with its second chapter in 2008. They showed the trailers last night.

I think you had to be a fan of the book...