For all the controversy surrounding ‘The Golden Compass’, it is a surprisingly conventional British children’s tale. An orphaned child is raised in comfort by privileged relatives until one day she is taken away by some very, very bad people who hate little children. She then sets off on a quest to rescue her friends and save the world - with a little help from some witches, a cowboy, and an armoured polar bear.
The story is, of course, far more complex, fraught with meaning and metaphor. I don’t know how much detail was left out from the book, but I suspect it wasn’t enough. Not because of any anti-clergy themes that remain, but because the filmmakers just tried to cram too much information into a two-hour movie.
The film presents a fascinating and stunningly beautiful world filled with engaging characters, and I personally enjoyed it. I’m just not sure how many children or adults will have the patience for it.
Three out of five stars.
(You can read Murray's review in today's issue of The Milton Champion, along with news of the Halton Catholic School Board's opinion. More on that later.)