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
Watch On
  1. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    63
    At times you feel Weitz flipping the pages and dog-earing wildly, and that's a shame: This is a movie that needs to be lengthy and discursive, the better to duck into the back alleys of its invention. A visionary is required. This director isn't one.
  2. A "soft" epic, a film touching on childhood fantasies with sturdy, unwavering characters driven to evil or good. More "Harry Potter," in other words, than "Beowulf."
  3. 100
    A darker, deeper fantasy epic than the "Rings" trilogy, "The Chronicles of Narnia" or the "Potter" films. It springs from the same British world of quasi-philosophical magic, but creates more complex villains and poses more intriguing questions. As a visual experience, it is superb. As an escapist fantasy, it is challenging.
  4. Represents the year's biggest gamble - and it delivers the year's biggest and most ambitious fantasy.
  5. Reviewed by: Tasha Robinson
    75
    It’s pure introductory adventure, meant to immerse readers in Pullman’s richly complicated fantasy universe.
  6. If Weitz's Golden Compass feels, at times, too crammed with exposition and big set pieces, the film nonetheless works far more successfully than the first Potter pic - the leaden "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" - did translating its source material.
  7. A demanding blend of spectacle, drama and exposition of ideas.
  8. 63
    One key missing element: the world in which this story takes place never feels unique. We aren't drawn into it the way we were with Middle Earth or Hogwarts. In fact, with all the airships flying around, there are times when it feels like an extension of Stardust.
  9. There are significant stretches of talky tedium, more than a few “huh” moments for neophytes – especially whenever anyone starts nattering on about Dust with a capital D – and the ending plays abruptly, but there’s plenty here to hang a franchise on.
  10. 75
    Weitz doesn't manage Pullman's feat of being rational and magical simultaneously. But he rapidly and intelligently opens up Pullman's world.
User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 332 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 87 out of 168
  2. Negative: 42 out of 168
  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 »