The Golden Compass

Metascore
51

Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 33
  2. Negative: 3 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. Ultimately satisfying and successful version of the opening volume of the celebrated "His Dark Materials" trilogy.
  2. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    60
    There's something missing, beyond the iconoclastic theology, in this perfectly OK, blandly underwhelming superproduction. The movie lacks an elevating passion, a cohesive vision, a soul. It's as if The Golden Compass has misplaced its artistic compass. Somebody stole its daemon.
  3. 58
    The Golden Compass does manage the job of bringing Pullman's world to the screen. With luck, any future entries will try harder to get the job done right.
  4. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    Impressively rendered but oddly uninviting adventure.
  5. The Golden Compass is a snowbound mystical-whizbang kiddie ride that hovers somewhere between the loopy and the lugubrious.
  6. The film is dominated by computer-generated effects and they're most of its problem -- they don't give us anything to emotionally attach to or invest in.
  7. Has many of the virtues of a faithful screen adaptation and many of the predictable flaws.
  8. Reviewed by: Deborah Day
    50
    Ultimately fails as a film in its broad strokes and inadequate scene development.
  9. For all the complicated backstory, weighty themes, action set pieces and fanciful production design, the film is oddly unengaging.
  10. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    50
    Disappoints with its lack of character development and convoluted storytelling.
  11. Looks magical, seethes with elusive profundities and makes remarkably little sense, though the murkiness makes perfect sense on a shallower level.
  12. 50
    An innocuous, passably entertaining effects extravaganza.
  13. 50
    The Golden Compass comes close, and its originality cannot be denied, but it never quite crosses over into your heart. It stops at your eyes.
  14. The Golden Compass is a blatant attempt to duplicate the success of the "Harry Potter" franchise. The only thing missing is richly imagined characters, a comprehensible story line, good acting, and satisfying special effects.
  15. 40
    In drawing and quartering much of the novel's intent, Weitz ends up with a film that feels not just unfinished but undone.
  16. The movie simply delivers too many colorfuls for its own good, none of whom establish a true emotional identity, and thus it isn't moving, it's busy. Busy, busy, busy.
  17. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    40
    A tepid, jumbled Hollywood fable whose final message seems to amount to little more than "Follow your dreams," or worse, "Stay tuned for the sequel."
  18. 40
    Whatever complex or interesting ideas might have been found in the source material have been watered down, skimmed over, mashed into nonsense or simply ignored.
  19. 40
    Not only did those so-called "demons" take the form of animals, but they actually talked!
  20. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    40
    A crushing disappointment for fans and a scuppered opportunity for a cinematic event. That the first book has been so mishandled doesn’t bode well for the (already greenlit) more complicated ones to come.
User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 343 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 90 out of 171
  2. Negative: 42 out of 171
  1. WarrenE.
    Jan 4, 2008
    10
    I think the reason for low US gross is number one it stars a GIRL (Most male reviewers panned it and female reviewers loved it) and it I think the reason for low US gross is number one it stars a GIRL (Most male reviewers panned it and female reviewers loved it) and it requires you to think which is something of a lost art here (we keep electing crooks who are stealing us blind). I do not think the Christian Nazis are the problem as they do not go to Hollywood movies anyway. The only reason I went to see it was that the Pope said that I should not. Until then I thought that it was just another mind numbing fantasy for children like Lord (Bored) of the Ring. I fell asleep during the first LOFR movie and have not watched any of the sequels. GC was two hours long but only seemed like an hour. I have gone back and seem it twice more. Once to catch the details I missed the first time and again to analyze the story. I hope the sequels will not have to be dumbed down even more for the US audience just to get a higher box office. Full Review »
  2. CocoaF.
    Jan 5, 2008
    8
    I loved the Golden Compass, it was action filled in every scene, I loved the Golden Compass.
  3. MaxW.
    Jan 3, 2008
    7
    A visually beautiful film, that unfortunately tried to do too much in too short a space of time. Obviously elements of the book had to be A visually beautiful film, that unfortunately tried to do too much in too short a space of time. Obviously elements of the book had to be left out, otherwise the film would be too long, but the director failed to capture the suspense in the book. This left the brilliant actors very little to work with and develop their characters, despite many strong performances on their part. The ending was typical Hollywood, in that the sad ending in the book is completely missing. An enjoyable film, but could've have been great. Full Review »