I am disappointed with this year’s big family trilogy starter. While pretty, technically impressive and brimming with magical charm ‘Compass offers little more than an average fetch-quest plotline pumped up on magical CG-steroids.
I wont go into detail but the world of the Golden Compass is no-doubt a magical one. People’s souls are manifested as animals, polar bears live in castles, and witches are commonplace. Part Potter and part Pinocchio, the plot focuses on young Lyra as she sets off to free kidnapped orphans from an evil organization that seeks to separate children from their magical souls. Along the way she befriends…well everything possible, and forms a band of mismatched comrades that would seemingly die for a young girl they apparently barely know. I’m sure all this will be explained in later chapters, but in this film it’s almost obnoxious how this little girl (who has the most annoying voice of all time I might add) befriends everything from a balloon riding cowboy and a ninja witch to a talking prince-polar-bear and a boatload of traveling gypsies. Ok bad guys need their asses kicked, that’s fine with me. But how does everyone and their magical dog seemingly know that dying for this little urchin is a good idea?
With talking animals, battlefield clashes and magical children; this movie has all the cliché necessities’ of a blockbuster fantasy romp, but sad truth of it all is that ‘Compass is not greater than the sum of its parts. While it has everything it needs to succeed in its genre, ‘Compass presents everything in a flat and overly linear manner that does little but bore the audience as it leads them through to the credits. With a cast as revered as this there is only direction to blame. The characters deliver lines in a George Lucas-ian deadpan style that further flatten the already clichéd roles. Christopher Lee even makes his staple trilogy appearance in a role that outshines Count Dooku in blasé redundancy.
With a ‘to be continued'-ending that would irritate me if I cared, and very little progression from beginning to end I find myself unable to enjoy this movie as much as I had expected to. With many unanswered questions constantly filling the CG-enhanced screen, the film is really nothing more than a pretty and mildly entertaining question mark. I have a feeling that when the trilogy is completed and the story has a defined beginning and end, that this will all change. However as it stands as a single movie, this one is weak in the knees and struggles to stay standing left alone.