The Golden Compass


The Golden Compass

Critics Consensus

Without the bite or the controversy of the source material, The Golden Compass is reduced to impressive visuals overcompensating for lax storytelling.



Total Count: 194


Audience Score

User Ratings: 350,524
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Movie Info

A young girl embarks on a perilous journey to rescue her best friend and fight the forces of darkness in director Chris Weitz's adaptation of the first installment of author Philip Pullman's best-selling fantasy trilogy. Screen newcomer Dakota Blue Richards stars as young heroine Lyra Belacqua, Casino Royale star Daniel Craig appears as Lyra's ruthless adventurer uncle, Lord Asriel, and Nicole Kidman assumes the glamorous guise of the villainous Mrs. Coulter. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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Nicole Kidman
as Mrs. Coulter
Daniel Craig
as Lord Asriel
Dakota Blue Richards
as Lyra Belacqua
Sam Elliott
as Lee Scoursby
Eva Green
as Serafina Pekkala
Christopher Lee
as First High Councilor
Tom Courtenay
as Farder Coram
Derek Jacobi
as Magisterial Emissary
Adam Godley
as Pantalaimon
Simon McBurney
as Fra Pavel
Jim Carter
as John Faa
Clare Higgins
as Ma Costa
Nonso Anozie
as Iorek Byrinson
Magda Szubanski
as Mrs. Lonsdale
Edward de Souza
as Second High Councilor
Steven Loton
as Tony Costa
Charlie Rowe
as Billy Costa
Michael Antoniou
as Kerim Costa
Hattie Morahan
as Sister Clara
John Bett
as Thorold
Freddie Highmore
as Pantalaimon
Ian McShane
as Ragnar Sturlusson
Ian McKellen
as Iorek Byrnison
Jonathan Laury
as Younger Fellow
Paul Antony-Barber
as Bolvangar Doctor
Jason Watkins
as Bolvangar Official
Jay Rawlings
as Passing Scholar
Tommy Luther
as Daemon Puppeteer
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News & Interviews for The Golden Compass

Critic Reviews for The Golden Compass

All Critics (194) | Top Critics (46) | Fresh (81) | Rotten (113)

Audience Reviews for The Golden Compass

  • Dec 31, 2016
    I like stuff like that. But if it is fine grained. There's some big mistakes that ruin the story and the movements. Like the screenplay that confuses the watchers I think because it confuses me. Second the control of the scenes. Sometimes they are changing dramatically and sharply and it's not OK of being like that these important pieces. But after all it was nice. But if there wasn't so many fails like these the film would have been rocked the screen after the end of the film. P.s. The idea of the movie and the movie is so cool to me that I could read things for it many times. If after some years there's no ideas of other movie I could........
    Valeri I Super Reviewer
  • Dec 21, 2013
    We're talking about a futuristic world, spirit animals, warrior polar bears, James Bond as an adventurous college professor (British Indy!) and Sam Elliott as a cowboy aeronaut, so this is either going to be an awesome definitive fantasy epic... or almost two hours of mostly exposition and allegorical deconstructions of organized religion. Shoot, forget organized religion, this might be a deconstruction of the conservative republican party, because I'm not entirely confident that they're not trying to say something when they name the evil, female political figure in this film Mrs. [u]Coulter[/u]. Wow, in a discussion regarding this film, I found a way to address Ann Coulter, so this probably isn't as exciting as the "Chronicles of Narnia" rip-off I was expecting it to be, although it does feel like a rip-off of a rip-off. No, this is still too anti-Christian to be like the overtly pro-Christian "Narnia" series, so much so that they seem to be making fun of Republicans (I don't know if they're poking fun at Ann Coulter, but I'm starting to get a little more confident that I'm the only non-religious Conservative in America), no matter how much they try to evoke thoughts of Aslan the lion god with these awesome, anthropomorphic polar bears. Oh, they probably just put them in because... talking polar bears were actually in Philip Pullman's original book, and also because the filmmakers felt like messing with us, because as if it's not hard enough to keep from getting Ian McKellen and Ian McShane confused, they go ahead and collaborate in the form of polar bears. They may as well pull a cute "coincidence" like that if they're going to have those two actors around in this cast full of British stars that Chris Weitz ostensibly assembled because he's so ambitious about breaking away from the "American Pie" image with his first film out of the shadow of his brother that he wants to make this thing as British as possible. I think the budget and cliffhanger feel that will never be justified by a sequel are enough evidence of overambition here, but hey, I don't mind, because this is indeed a decent film, just not quite what it wants to be, partly because everyone in this film is too busy to come back for a sequel, and largely because of some serious flaws. Almost surprisingly, this film gets kind of cheesy, featuring some dialogue and humor that are hokey in something of a kiddy way, and even tainting its mythology with somewhat, as Korey Coleman of put it, "dorky" elements that seem to further kiddy things up. Really, the film just can't decide if it wants to be a family fluff piece of a fantasy flick or a slightly edgy, intellectual high fantasy drama, as it goes bloated with tones and layers that are too dynamic to be consistent, as well as too excessive for their own good, bloating the narrative as too busy, if not convoluted. I would be more willing to forgive this excessiveness if most of the material wasn't so familiar, because even though this film is refreshing in a lot of ways, it's more unique in concept, and such potential for uniqueness makes it easier to detect conventions, which are plentiful, drawing formulaic character types and plotting elements that build a predictable path, along which storytelling drags. There is just too much material here, and not enough scope to compensate, no matter how much the storytellers try to compensate with excess exposition that eventually devolves into aimless ramblings which only occasionally punctuated by kicks of danger and action, and prove to be too repetitious to be consistently engaging. There's something distant about this draggy, formulaic should-be epic that defuses a sense of adventure and makes the other problems really stand out, not unlike a sense of overambition to Chris Weitz's efforts. Weitz's sheer ambition is endearing, and his inspired elements just wouldn't be what they are without that sense of passion, but whether it be because this is his first outing as a solo filmmaker or because he's always to be a little misguided, he makes mistakes that the shortcomings emphasize, and are themselves emphatic of natural shortcomings in this overblown, familiar and rather talky fantasy flick, whose potential falls through and leaves the final product to collapse as kind of forgettable. The film leaves much to be desired, and yet, if you're willing to embrace the strengths beyond the many shortcomings, you're bound to find much to cling onto as endearing, even - nay - particularly when it comes to production value. Henry Braham's handsome cinematography gives you a pretty broad feel for fine art direction, courtesy of Richard Johnson, Chris Lowe and Andy Nicholson, who deliver on immersive locations and intricate, distinguished production designs that capture a sense of scope and adventure arguably more than the storytellers, with a sense of wonderment that the visual effects compliment. Now, the effects are far from spotless, but they're generally outstanding enough for you to ignore most of the seams, boasting fine designs that are very well-rendered, with a sense of life that flavors up the weight of the action sequences that are compelling enough with their intense staging. Action and other thrilling set pieces are pretty underused in this mostly talkative adventure drama, but the technical proficiency and style behind them are found throughout the film, livening things up and bringing some life to a worthy mythology. On paper, "Northern Lights" novelist Philip Pullman's mythology has formulaic elements, but most of the conventions are the fault of the story adapters, as this subject matter is generally pretty refreshing on paper, with an intelligent fusion of elements dealing with spirituality, high fantasy, science fiction and social commentary that works generally well within an overblown, but intriguing plot that offers memorable characters and promising dramatic and thematic depths amidst a grand scope. As I've been saying, while there are plot elements in concept that are questionable, shortcomings in plotting are mostly the fault of those who interpret this subject matter, which, on paper, is strong, and yet, that isn't to say that there isn't some justice being done here. As director, Chris Weitz makes his share of mistakes, but he also presents his fair share of strengths to reflect his potential as a solo filmmaker, working well with performers, - at least the adult ones (Honestly, Dakota Blue Richards is pretty bad, but her peers compensate for a fall-flat lead) - as well as style, whose distinctiveness distinguishes this world about as much as it can be with formulaic storytelling, and whose liveliness joins colorful plays with Alexandre Desplat's score in sustaining entertainment value through all of the aimlessness, if not grace the heights in narrative intrigue with genuine bite. To tell you the truth, it would only take a couple more shortcomings in style and intrigue to ruin this film as not simply underwhelming, but mediocre, as there are so many problems, yet not so many that you can disregard the strengths, which are ultimately consistent enough, and backed by enough charm, to secure the final product as endearing, even if it's not particularly memorable. In closing, kiddier writing elements get to be cheesy, as do dorky elements in a mythology that is generally exhaustingly overblown with excess material behind a formulaic and aimlessly talky plot that joins a sense of overambition in reflecting shortcomings so greatly that the final product comes close to limping out as mediocre, only to go saved by the excellent art direction and visual effects, intriguing story concept and fair deal of inspired directorial moments that make Chris Weitz's "The Golden Compass" an endearing, if forgettable fantasy adventure film. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Jun 15, 2012
    Based on the award winning novel, The Golden Compass is an exciting and epic fantasy adventure. The tale follows a wave of child kidnappings by a mysterious group called the Gobblers, and the quest of a young girl named Lyra who uncovers their fiendish plans and seeks to rescue her friend from their clutches. The film has a great cast that includes Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Eva Green, and Dakota Blue Richards; who does an excellent job at portraying the lead character of Lyra. There are some script issues, but overall the story is fairly well told. And, the special effects are well done; creating a unique, magical world. The Golden Compass has a number of flaws, but it delivers an entertaining and thrilling adventure.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 24, 2012
    Its basic, nothing is explored to make this film something that the youth in modern day will enjoy and... They haven't.
    Scott G Super Reviewer

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