The Golden Compass
I wasn’t expecting it to be a spectacular movie, and it wasn’t, but it was still worth watching for the armored bear fight between Iorek and
Iofur Ragnar. I really wanted to see Iorek eat Ragnar’s heart though, but that would’ve been pushing it for a children’s movie.
Lyra’s world looked exactly the way I pictured it in my head.
The transitions were choppy, perhaps understandably so because they had to cram in so many events in the span of two hours. Still, I feel like they didn’t make the best of editing choices. We see Lord Asriel being hauled away and then later on we just find out that he bribed his captors and he’s now in some lab somewhere? What?
Character introduction and development weren’t very good. You don’t get to know anyone well enough to have strong feelings for them one way or the other. Even the Magisterium and Mrs. Coulter, who are so easy to hate, were not well established as villains.
When I first heard they were making a movie, I couldn’t fathom how they were going to explain the arcane metaphysical concepts underpinning Pullman’s universe. Very poorly, apparently. I don’t know if all that stuff about Dust and daemons and free will made sense to anyone who didn’t read the books.
In the second book of the trilogy, Pullman explains that “Dust is only a name for what happens when matter begins to understand itself.” It’s the physical manifestation of either Original Sin or the creative energy of humankind, which Pullman appears to treat as the same thing. It adheres to adults, but not to children. It only starts to settle on humans when they undergo puberty (when their deamons settle into their final form). It is connected with the changes that take place during adolescence (a child’s loss of “innocence” and the onset of self-awareness). I feel like the movie wasn’t able to adequately explain that, thus it’s not really clear why Dust is such a threat to the Magisterium and why cutting away a child’s deamon translates to the elimination of free will.
I think the controversy surrounding the books/movie is ridiculous. Militants of Christian persuasions really ought to be less paranoid. HDM is not about promoting atheism, nor is it against the Catholic Church per se. It’s a critique of organized religion and it explores what could happen if a church (not necessarily the Church) became too powerful such that people in society lost the freedom to think for themselves.