I’ve been waiting excitedly for the Golden Compass movie – I’m a huge fan of the books, I think they’re pretty much the best kids books ever written. The world is so vast and so deep and the characters so detailed and cool that trying to jam them all into one 2 hour movie seemed like a bit of a challenge. I remember being just as nervous when I was waiting to see how the Lord of the Rings would be handled, and that turned out pretty good so I actually had great hopes for The Golden Compass, but unfortunately it falls short of the mark. Which is a real shame, because it’s such a fantastic story. Apparently it’s done way less than expected for its first weekend, which means the sequals may not get a greenlight, which is a huge bummer.
I saw it Friday night and it was really rushed; characters pop in and out with only a cursory introduction. It clips along so quick, and the exposition is pretty in your face at times. You don’t really have any affinity for any of the characters (though I did think the girl playing Lyra was great, and Sam Elliott plays an absolutely fucking AWESOME Lee Scoresby (and Cathy Bates plays the voice of Hester, his jackrabbit daemon). He NAILED the role; I read an article where he talked about the show and said: “I started reading the books before the deal was made. You know, I remember calling my agent on a Sunday after Iâ€™d finished it. I think I was halfway through the second book and I said, â€˜You guys canâ€™t let this thing get away. I donâ€™t care what theyâ€™re offering. I want to do this thing”. See? HE gets it.
I REALLY wanted the show to succeed. Lord of the Rings helped kick off a rekindling of the Fantasy genre, and I was thinking this would have been a great follow up. Someone recommended these books to me a few years ago, and when I finished the third one, I was so in love with the characters that I couldn’t bear to put it down (on top of that, the end of the third book is a fantastic tear jerker, which didn’t help). I actually freaked out a little when I finished the third book; I was so desperate to spend more time with Lyra and Pan that I went and chased down this little one-off short story that Pullman wrote after he finished the trilogy. When it finally arrived from Amazon, I remember slowly going through it, taking my time, knowing that this would be the last time I’d be with them. Like the last chance to say goodbye to a friend who’s moving away for a long, long time. The ending wasn’t sad on that one which was good; my little whimpy heart wouldn’t have been able to take another beating.
Anyhow, if you haven’t read the books, wake the fuck up and get your hands on them. It is absolutely spellbinding storytelling. I was actually writing a science fiction fantasy show of my own when I read these books and I remember being so incredibly impressed at the characters, world and story that Pullman crafted and so horribly depressed when I compared my work to his.
So please, go see the film. It’s not great, but man, we gotta get the second film greenlit. I want to see the Subtle Knife on the big screen!
Or, if that’s too much commitment, at least read the books. Or if you can’t do that, well, at least figure out what your Daemon is – you can do that at the Golden Compass website. You answer a series of 20 questions with a sliding scale thing and it pairs you up with a Daemon! I’m quite happy with mine; I got a raccoon named Uruvia. The test revealed I was modest, assertive, competitive, sociable and inquisitive. See?
What’s YOUR Daemon? Send me the link!
And go see the movie.