Disclaimer: I have never read Philip Pullman‘s series. The people I watched it with were huge fans of the book and they had a completely different experience. I saw this in the cinema, I’m just slow.

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Lyra (Dakota Richards), an orphan, sets out on a quest to recover her friend Roger (Ben Walker) who may have been abducted by the dreaded “gobblers.” Needless to say, she meets a slew of exotic characters and is in constant danger.

On her journey, she learns more about the magical dust her uncle Lord Asrael (Daniel Craig) has been investigating. She also meets Lee Scoresby (Sam Elliot) who is a larger than life home-spun sage.

At one point, Lyra is taken under the wing of the glamorous Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman).

N. B. I was wrong about the trailer. Mrs. Coulter is not a witch. Serafina (Eva Green) is one of the witches, and she is good.

The scenes with Lyra and the Armored Bear (Ian McKellen) were my favorite parts, since they seemed to be equals in knowledge and purpose. I wonder if some girls will grow up wanting a polar bear warrior instead of a pony.

The reviews I had read before watching it lamented the simplification of the plot and characters. I felt there were more than enough characters who arrived and gave us an info-dump.

When Lyra is adventuring on her own, it was exciting and fun. It was also nice to see another heroine added to the fantasy adventure canon. It was beautiful to look at and well-conceived world. I am sorry that it was not more successful because I would have enjoyed a sequel.


Small complaints:

The movie inserted Golden Compass “sparkle vision” as often as a magical girl show inserts its transformation animation.

Her daemon Pan was annoying. Why was her soul spineless and empty-headed when Lyra was everything but? I didn’t understand this part.

BIG complaint:

A powerful but vulnerable child with a great destiny meets an equally powerful centuries-old witch/wise woman Serafina (Eva Green). From the info-dump, I gather that Serafina is a likely to become her mentor. What do they talk about?

Serafina tests Lyra’s powers by asking her to name Serafina’s former boyfriend. They more-or-less giggle about that for a bit. Lyra doesn’t need know about Serafina’s relationships; she needs information for survival. The test seems out of place, out of character, and inappropriate.

Gandalf does not discuss his former lovers with Frodo. Obi Wan doesn’t discuss his former lovers with Luke. Dumbledore didn’t begin his guidance of Potter by discussing his ex-lovers of any gender.

This is extremely irritating to me.

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