Movie Review: The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass Movie Poster

Based on the Phillip Pullman novel, “Northern Lights”, this movie tells the story of Lyra and her journey to rescue her friend Roger from the Gobblers and to fulfil the Witches’ prophesy. This movie looks absolutely gorgeous and they have captured the feel of the books. My main fear with translating the books into a film was that they wouldn’t be able to get the daemons right and that the child casted in the role of Lyra would not be able to act. I am happy to say that my fears were unfounded. The CGI department did wonders with the daemons and they are everything I imagined them to be when I read the books, and whilst Lyra is not the Lyra I had in my head when reading the books, Dakota Blue Richards does a great job.

Unfortunately this film suffers from trying to pack a complex novel into just 120 minutes and hence everything feels rushed. The characters, especially Lyra, don’t grow and learn as they did in the book and thus you miss some major character development which leaves you feeling a little distanced from them. You don’t feel like you have been on a long epic journey with them, more like dragged from one plot point to another. Whilst I can understand the film makers trying to get everything into a neat 2 hour film to please a younger audience, they really should have extended it out to 180 minutes. There was enough going on to keep any 8 year old upwards glued to their seats for an extra 30 minutes. This would have allowed some time to truly get to know the players in this adventure rather than a brief glimpse of them.

Those going to see the film without reading the books may have a much different reaction to the film than fans of the books have. I would love to hear what you think if you have seen the movie but not read the books.

This film is ideal for kids about 8 and above and for all adults who enjoy a good fantasy movie. It is the perfect film to get kids wanting to read the books – and I love any form of media that makes kids want to read. The Phillip Pullman novels are brilliant and I thoroughly recommend them to any lover of fantasy – both kids and adults. Like the Harry Potter novels, the books can be read on several levels – the kids will enjoy a fantastic adventure story full of magic and daemons whilst adults will enjoy the philosophical ideas that these novels contain.


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