Jen & I saw The Golden Compass this morning. I'm not going to get too much into it. We had a lot of fun, but it was very rushed. There was a lot of explaining going on. ("This is a truth-telling machine. It kind of looks like a compass. Now, it's never actually called a compass in the book, because the original name of the book in Britain is Northern Lights. But as everyone knows, Americans need a snappy title to buy a book. So American publishers, not even reading the book, saw what looked like a compass on the cover, and decreed that the American publication would be called The Golden Compass. But since Hollywood made a movie of it, we have to explain a few times that the truth-telling alethiometer kind of looks like a compass, and that's why we're calling this movie The Golden Compass. Got it?") Blech. The editing is a bit choppy, and the music is nothing memorable. (Cue up the fighting music! Now... cue up the scary music! Now... cue up the sappy music!) But that's all just nitpicking.
I didn't feel that the novel's more controversial elements had been watered down too much, (I think everyone knows by email or by news column that the evil Magisterium of the novels represents religion, and "The Authority" is, (not really, if you've actually read the books,) God. What pissed me off is that for some bizarre reason, the film cuts off the whole climax of the novel. Imagine Star Wars ending with the X-wings flying off to attack the Death Star. Cue voice over from Mark Hamil: "Well, we were going now, we had what we needed, and we- me, Biggs, Porkins, and R2, we were going to go with the spirit of Obi Wan, and we were going to bring that Death Star down!" -Cue sappy music, cue credits. The only thing I can figure is that- as with all Hollywood adaptations- the film was written with for the purpose of luring in as many new fans as possible at the expense of existing fans, so by leaving off the "dark" ending of the novel, they changed it into a hopeful one. Again, Blech.
(An almost completely unrelated note: every message board on line is claiming that the ending of the upcoming Watchmen movie will be changed from that of the original graphic novel. If this is true, I will hunt down everyone involved with the film and personally feed them their own spleens. Try me.)
But apart from all these, things, the movie was all in all a bit of fun. I had a good giggle over the fact that Nicole Kidman is starting to show her age. And OMG- it's Clare Higgins- the hammer-wielding, skin-stealing, undead-loving, sexy, sinister, singles-bar-hopping stepmom from Hellraiser & Hellbound! (wow, she got old too!) So, have fun, go and see it, then read the books and see what you missed. Just don't let anyone grab your dæmon.