Fans of the Golden Compass series should be relatively pleased with the translation of book to screen here as the film is extremely loyal to it source. Those who have not read the book will find the film easy to follow and just as addicting.. Lyra, a wild and rebellious girl, has been sheltered at her College where they attempt to conform her into a civilized and learned young lady, of course to no avail. There are surprise visits from her Uncle Lord Aster that she looks forward to but his latest visit introduces her to a world that she never knew existed and one that will put her life and the world in danger.
There are many aspects of the Golden Compass that form, in its entirety, one of the greatest fantasy epic’s since Narnia. The movie is fast paced where it needs to be and slow and clarifying as well and both exist without ever ruining the fluidity of the story. Where other films dumb down their approach to translating key points from a book into the film by unsubtly mentioning said key points out of place in conversations, Golden Compass only applies this quirk once and then moves on.
The casting of the film is excellently handled as everyone involved really fits their parts. Kidman plays her part with a detached and semi-cold persona that works and Dakota Blue Richards is charming as young Lyra and very capable of relaying the dozen or so emotions that her character goes through. Of all the characters in the film though the most eye pleasing would have to have been the daemons. Weitz does a splendid job of giving the daemons a very human quality about them that allows you to invest in their personalities without ever focusing on the CGI. Freddie Highmore was fantastically placed as the voice of Lyra’s daemon, Pantalaimon as well as Kathy Bates as Lee Scorseby’s (Sam Elliot) daemon Hester, who drew laughs from my audience.
Even though the film has been ridiculed by the religious sector I doubt there is anyway anyone can stop this film from becoming successfully huge. Its more edgy then the Harry Potter series, which did not gain a much needed PG-13 rating until its fourth film, which gives it an automatic boost at drawing in a much more diverse audience, yet its just as fun as the Potter series. I highly suggest this film be seen by all.