Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Movie Review of the Day: The Golden Compass (Part Two)


So it works on the whole? It does and it doesn’t. Certainly the movie is a faithful adaptation. As faithful as any author could hope for, really. Only a little was cut. Lyra finding the room full of daemons… that was in the book, right? Not the film. And as far as I recall, they made it so that she knew the "ghost" who had his daemon cut from him. That made sense to me, so well done there. But I’ve heard two criticisms of the film recently that I had to agree with. The first is that the movie just moves from action sequence to action sequence. This is true, though the book struck me as not too dissimilar in this respect, so no problem there. I would have liked Lyra’s first try with the alethiometer to have yielded an answer to the question she poses to it. Instead you just cut to her later reading it for a witch without much of an explanation. The second objection was that when Lyra rides on the back of Iorek she looks like nothing so much as a girl in a Coca-Cola commercial. Yup. You half expect cubs to slide down the nearest hill of snow, sipping their drinks and humming happily.  It wasn’t without a care for details, even if the pacing went by at a trot. My husband felt that the sequence with the bear king was the best done, and I agree. Sitting there with his creepy woman daemon doll is one nasty bear. Sets, costumes, technological innovations… it all worked. Maybe it could have stood a bit of quiet now and again, but it worked.

As you may have heard, Compass did well enough on its opening week-end, but not as well as expectations had hoped. The sheer publicity garnered for the movie by the studio cost far more than the scant $26.1 million opening week-end. At this point the hope is going to be that word of mouth is good and that the film keeps bringing in the dough in subsequent weeks. As my husband and I left the theater, he pointed out how odd it was that the movie studio would place this much faith in what, essentially, is a cult series. Vast hoards of children do not hanker for these books. Truly, as I’ve been working the reference desk for the past few weeks, I’ve found that the bulk of requests for the series have come from adults. Without the already built in child audience, I suspect that the film will do relatively well, but not with the same success as a Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter.

The real question at this point is whether or not the studio will shell out enough money for The Subtle Knife. If Golden Compass is a flop, it could be even more embarrassing for the studio if they leave it hanging and fail to film the other two books. I mean, even A Series of Unfortunate Events wrapped up the first three books (and I always felt that that was an underrated film).

All in all, I enjoyed the film but it’s impossible to predict whether or not people unfamiliar with the series will feel the same way.  Time, I suppose, will tell.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.