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Movie Review - The Golden Compass

Updated on February 2, 2011

The Golden Compass is a film based on the first book in a trilogy called His Dark Materials by the writer Philip Pullman. The first book is called The Golden Compass (it was named Nothern Lights in the UK market), the second book The Subtle Knife, and the third book The Amber Spyglass. This film was adapted to a screen play and directed by Chris Weitz. The cast is quite impressive, with Nicole Kidman, Eva Green and Daniel Craig (who also currently stars as James Bond in the Bond films). The Golden Compass follows in the footsteps of several other fantasy books being turned into successful movies. Unfortunately this film wasn’t as big of a success as was hoped in the US, meaning the second and third film have been put on hold for a while. The Golden Compass did a lot better in European cinemas, and so there is still hope of part two and three being made.

Buy The Golden Compass DVD

In The Golden Compass we follow Lyra Belacque (played by Dakota Blue Richards), a young girl living at Jason College in Oxford. But in her world all humans have a daemon that is linked to them. The daemons are presented in the form of animals. Lyra’s daemon is called Pan (voice by Freddie Highmore), and hasn’t settled yet, meaning it can still change shapes. Her world is ran by the Magisterium. Some of the kids of the poor have been disappearing lately, and the rumour is they are being taken by the mysterious Goblers. It all has something to do with a strange thing called Dust. Lyra promises her friend Roger (played by Ben Walker) she will come for him if he ever will be taken. But then a mysterious lady shows up at the college, Miss Marisa Coulter (played by Nicole Kidman), and asks the headmaster if she can take Lyra as her assistent. Lyra happily goes along, especially when she is promised a trip to the North, to see the Ice Bears. The headmaster gives her a golden compass, called an Alethiometer, when asked a question it will always tells the truth. The headmaster tells Lyra never to show it to anyone, not even Miss Coulter. Lyra soon figures out Miss Coulter is not as nice as she pretends to be and she just wants the compass. So Lyra and Pan run away, and get rescued by gyptians. Then their journey to the north starts, and many dangerous adventures follow. She learns how to read the compass, she meets a witch, and she sets out to find out where the missing kids are taken and what is happening to them. Also she finally meets an Ice Bear, Iorek Byrnison (voice by Ian McKellen), and he helps her fight her battles, and figure out what Dust is.

I thought this film was great. The story is great, but those of us who have read the books already knew this. The film is beautifully made. The special effects are amazing. The daemons look very real, and so do the Ice Bears. This is great, because the daemons play quite an important role in the movie, so you want them to be believable. The world the filmmakers created is beautiful. Oxford looks really nice, with the old college, and the Magisterium and other buildings are created in a very imaginative way.

The actors in The Golden Compass are good too. I was very impressed with Dakota Blue Richards, who plays Lyra. She is very young but she does a great job. If you have a film that stars kid actors it is always a surprise if they are up for the job or not. Richards definitely has the skills to make it big. Nicole Kidman is great as the icy Miss Coulter. Daniel Craig has only a small part as Lord Asriel, Lyra’s uncle, but he is good too. Sam Elliot is very nice as Lee Scoresby. I especially liked the very thick all-american accent and the big moustache.

The Golden Compass is a film worthy of living in your DVD cupboard. I have watched many a time now, and I still cannot get enough. I also cannot wait for the second and third part to come out. So go out and buy it now!

Watch the Golden Compass Trailer


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    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      I agree the movie was great, I was disappointed that it did not do better at the box office, which pretty much ends the chance of the other movies being made....voted up

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I always wanted to see the I am convinced I should. I also want to buy the books. Religious references don't offend me. No more than any belief should. The story is intriguing anyway to me. Thanks for sharing it with us. Bookmarked for books, too! : D

    • Mieka profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks for mentioning the fan site Jaya. I'm really sad there won't be a part two and three, there really should! But I guess we will just have to do with reading the books. There are still some subtle references to religion in the film, but not nearly as much as in the books, true.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      A lot of HDM fans were disappointed with the way the film turned out, mainly due to the removal of overtly religious/Church references that are quite importantly made in the book by New Line. They did not want to offend the sensibilities of American viewers. Although the film did badly domestically, it did well internationally - but New Line had sold the international rights in order to fund the making of they lost out. Because of this, there won't be a sequel made...and perhaps that is a great shame, as it's a good trilogy. It would be great to have a director's cut (which includes the original ending, removed so that a sequel could be made) but it doesn't seem like that's ever going to happen.

      If you like His Dark Materials, please take a look at, the biggest HDM and Philip Pullman fansite on the net.


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