The Golden Compass (05-12-2007)

Light version of LotR

Call it whatever you want, kiddie, pre-teen version of Lord of the Rings, or if SowYau switch on his bitchy mode: A dumb-down LotR version. But it doesn't prevent movie studio - New Line Cinema to fund the movie, estimated production budget at whopping USD 180 millions.

Ever since the gargantuan success of Lord of the Rings movies, every studio heads have been salivating with the prospect of making their own epic fantasy adventure movie adapted from an existing material. No, they are not just interested in ONE smash movie, they want the money spinners come in the form of THREE or more movies (does Harry Potter ring any bell to you? How about Narnia?)

The Golden Compass is based of Philip Pullman’s first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. It is a tale of heroism, friendship, compassion, courage, redemption, betrayal, faith… common themes found in teen novella. Add it with multi ethnic consists of Gyptians, witches,talking bear (voiced by LotR's Gandalf) ..., a one or two huge battle sequences over a
lavish landscape, and there you are, a Lord of the Rings wannabe.

The pivotal character is a young orphan girl named Lyra (adequate performance by new girl Dakota Blue Richards) and her quest to save her best friend and many other kids from being conducted in a dangerous experiment. The movie is set in a parallel universe, meaning, the parallel world is almost the same things as our world, except for example, every soul exists outside the human body in the form of an animal, called Daemons, They also sort of act like an external conscience.

Before the release of The Golden Compass, an outcry from Christian community cited it as an anti-religious and atheistic theme movie, is it? Given the outline of the plot, one will probably agree. SowYau came across a bitchy remark by Conservative British columnist Peter Hitchens, who labeled Pullman as "The Most Dangerous Author in Britain" and described him as the writer "the atheists would have been praying for, if atheists prayed." Haha, what a stinging remark!

SowYau’s wish it could have feature more of Agent 007, ‘Cos Daniel Craig steal every scenes with his screen presence. SowYau is sure he will have more pivotal role in the sequel. Meanwhile, Nicole Kidman is captivately playing as the sinister but yet elegant antagonist - Mrs Coulter. But o
verall, this movie does not really have an mass appeal like the other movie of epic fantasy adventure genre, it is solely target at pre-teen audience. To be honest, only a handful of moments SowYau can remember after watching it, notably, the literally jaw-dropping bear fighting scene is too good to be ignored!

P.S.: Special thanks to SowYau’s friend – L.C.W. for his special complimentary screening pass.

1 star = Pathetic, SowYau feel ashamed of watching it
2 stars = Off the mark material, approach with caution
3 stars = Generally good, you should watch it if it's your favourite genre
4 stars = excellent, strongly recommended
5 stars = A classic status? only time will tell. But it is definitely in SowYau's Hall of Fame List