Among the better of the recent glut of popular modern fantasy franchises to get movie treatment. Thanks to some well-done source material, it has a good deal of interesting, and unique, plot elements to play around with.
That said, it could have been more tightly controlled, because much of it still feels like there are too many interesting ideas being casually referenced, a common result of distilling a book into a screenplay. To people unfamilar with the books, as I am, it is far too obvious that I am looking at cinematic Cliffs Notes, as opposed to a stand-alone movie. This is painfully apparent with the cliffhanger ending... although, that implies some tension at the end. Rather, it's just as if the movie took a commercial break, and decided to roll credits.
Despite it all... the Polar-Bear vs. Polar Bear fight scene. Out of all the over-the-top "Oh, Snap" moments to view with your slightly morbid family relations this holiday season, make this the one.
----- Review Ends Here. Read on only for a biased defense of the movie against hard-line religous criticism
Ok, apparently a pretty vocal group have been giving themselves fits over this one due to the "god killing" ideas supposedly oozing out of this movie from every orafice. Point 1: The movie admits to the concept of a soul. Alot more spitiuality and morality than say, '300', which it seems alot of the people who despise this movie want to have babies with. Point 2: The God-Killing theme NEVER APPEARS in this film. Point 3: Even if it did, from what I got out of the film, having NEVER read the books, is that the eventual theme is more about predestination versus free will.
So, in the end, if your kid is old enough to watch a Polar bear totally wailing on some dudes, they are old enough not to get brainwashed. Honestly, the cute furry chipmunk-spirt-companion-thing isn't going to tell your kid to go arson down the nearest church. If we are going to demolish movies for being original, and maybe siding with different choices, then why watch movies in the first place? Are we so jaded that we cannot enjoy a Polar Bear ripping off another Polar Bears jaw, because some dude who came up with it thinks differently than us? No. Polar-Bear on Polar-Bear action is awesome nomatter the moral overtones. So stop the whining and bawling, you fear-mongers. If your kid hasn't gone Wiccan from Harry Potter, they sure as hell wont become Animist god-killing Scientists from this one.