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The Golden Compass

The controversy surrounding The Golden Compass turned out to be comically superfluous. This mediocre movie won't inspire many people to remember it a week from now, much less renounce their faith in God. If the novels contained some kind of religious allegory it sure got neutered out of the movie script.

What we have here is a rote adventure story. Tell me if you've heard this before: there's a powerful artifact, it winds up in the hands of a child for what seems to be no good reason, some people fight over it, a colorful and varied group of allies aid the child, and there's some destiny or prophecy to be fulfilled.

The special effects are frustratingly uneven. The plot is muddled and we're not given enough backstory to really care about what's happening: apparently there's some kind of conflict between a college and the "Magisterium," which is sort of like the Roman Catholic church but with no traces of religion whatsoever. But the only characters from the college we really meet are Lyra's uncle and the headmaster. One of them is an cold and ungrateful dick and the other one is a doormat. We're supposed to root for these guys?

The characters continuously defy logic. They also defy you to care about them. They are not endearing. The protagonist certainly is plucky and loyal but spends most of her time just being kind of resolutely sullen. You will not care about her.

There are some things to like about The Golden Compass. There are excellent giant fighting armored polar bears, and Sam Eliot is in it, and uh.... uh... that's it, really. Don't see it in the theater and don't even rent it unless you're really into polar bears.

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