The Golden Compass (2007)

(In theaters, December 2007) There are time when even a sub-standard adaptation can serve an original novel, and this is it: Throughout the film, as disjointed elements appeared on screen without much of an explanation, I kept thinking that I should rather be reading the book than watching the film. Oh, it’s not as if the movie is without merits: the special effects are fine, the images are arresting and the polar bear wrestling match really gives the bass speakers a workout. But the film feels disjointed, as if half the necessary explanations had been left on the editing room floor. Nicole Kidman looks as if she doesn’t even want to be in the film. At least the bare bones of the original story’s anti-dogma stance have been preserved, along with the main plot and enough hints to suggest much more. The flavour of the fantasy universe shown here is also a welcome departure from the quasi-clichéd medieval setting that most fantasy films seem stuck to. Could have been worse, I suppose.

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