The Golden Compass – in the right direction

Went to see the much anticipated (well in our house) Golden Compass last night with some trepidation and some excitement. I loved the books so much that I was scared the film would be too Hollywood-ised, there has been much talk about the removal of the religious aspects of the book and I was nervous it would just turn into a romping adventure with too little soul. In actual fact, the fudging of the religious references made little impact in this film (although by the third I suspect this will be a more difficult path to negotiate) and the Magisterium remains the embodiment of organised religion which is promising.

In terms of casting, I was excited by the prospect of Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter and she did not disappoint (although there was something very odd going on with her lips which I did find distracting). Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel had a lot to live up to as Timothy Dalton (another Bond – coincidence? I’m not sure) had played the part so well in the National’s stage adaptation. It’s not so much that he disappointed, it’s just that his character was watered down so much, there was little sense of his danger or ruthless streak. Again, it will be interesting to see how that develops.

The joy in the casting was Dakota Blue Richards who was a wonderful Lyra. She was as far away from Hollywood as you could get (they didn’t even try to fix her teeth – hurrah!) and was utterly convincing as a feisty potential saviour of the world. The role helped make Anna Maxwell Martin a star and I hope it will do the same for Dakota (although not in some horrible child star way PLEASE!).

I have referred to the stage production already and that set the standard for me – this didn’t come near it. Having said that, on the whole, I enjoyed the film and it certainly was better than I had thought it would be when I heard Chris Weitz was directing it. My major gripe though was the breakneck speed of its second half and the “happy ending” which is so different from the book.

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