Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket“This Compass points nowhere.”

_ The Golden Compass _ Title: The Golden Compass

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The Golden Compass could be the most talked about film of the year. The largest percentage of comments being negative. My inbox has been full of notices to stay away from this vile, deceptive film. Of course most of these if not all were from people who had never seen one scene of the movie. Everyone has been in an uproar due to the books on which the film is based. A typical knee jerk reaction to the writings of anti religious author Philip Pullman. But I am not here to debate theology but to review a film. So let me now put all your questions and concerns to rest and ease your curious minds. Regardless of the reasons or the ranting of the Author, the bottom line is that this film is a paper thin story that wants to be epic but ends up forgettable.

I tried to like this film and get into the story. For one because it looks amazing. The cinematography and animation are superb. The characters are strong and well developed. You look forward to the journey they are on. But then nothing happens. The plot line is dull and makes absolutely no sense. Sure you can see the vague point they are making but it is so diluted and without basis that the movie sort of flounders around for two hours. The only intriguing arc is that of the Ice Bear and his journey to be king. The battle that ensues is the highlight of the entire film. The rest is just tiresome and redundant. It wants to be another Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter but the writing is just so sub par. Put aside the personal beliefs or motive of the author. He might be a grand storyteller on paper but it never translates to film.

The cast is not to blame. Marisa Coulter (Nicole Kidman) is played perfectly and you fear her without knowing fully why. Kidman does a lot with a look or a head tilt. It is scary seduction. And she makes you shiver. Dakota Blue Richards plays the main role of Lyra Belacqua and brings personality to her character. She has determination in her eyes that helps give Lyra an inner strength that comes through nicely. Daniel Craig on the other hand is in the film maybe a total of 3 minutes and so you never see him do anything. Luckily the bear is intriguing because he is in the film the most.

The Golden Compass is rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence. This is a dark film and the tone is very serious and not for kids under 13. There are talks of witches and the souls of humans walk along side them as animals and are referred to as daemons. Pronounced Demon. So be aware of that with your younger family members. Those over 13 will more than likely be bored with the hard to follow plot and theme. I heard a few older teens comment on leaving the screening that they didn’t understand the point and were worried it would keep dragging on. They were just happy to be out of there. As were many of us adults as well. In truth, this film looks super. But that is not enough to warrant an audience. There are far too many better films out this Holiday season. As my wife says, this Compass points solidly to a better film; and it is playing next door. I can give it only 2 out of 5 furry souls. I’m Matt Mungle

Matt Mungle (matt@mungleshow.com)(12/05/07)

“Matt is a member of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA) and co-hosts a weekly radio feature, The Mungles on Movies, with his wife Cindy. For additional reviews, interview clips and great DVD giveaways, visit the website www.mungleshow.com”

Review copyright 2007 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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