The Golden Compass

User Score
6.1

Generally favorable reviews- based on 343 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 97 out of 343

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User Reviews

  1. L.E.
    Dec 13, 2007
    3
    Very boring movie, but better than the book, which is the biggest crap, I've ever read.
  2. Tanner
    Dec 13, 2007
    2
    Awful, I can't believe anyone would give this movie any credit at all. The story is obscure and while some people call the ridiculous plot intriguing, I call it boring and slow. I haven't felt this way about a movie since Larry the cable guy health inspector. I wouldn't even recommend this movie to rent. I felt as though I wasted 2 hours of my life that I can't ever get back.
  3. LeslieW
    Dec 10, 2007
    0
    horrible movie. my son and i almost fell asleep. it is so dark, not a sequel I want to see. seems like the movie was a let down unless you like dark, gloomy, boring films. the best thing about this movie were the end credits.
  4. DanielS.
    Jan 8, 2008
    2
    I can only assume the people who made this movie were so mesmerized by the source material and the computer generated graphics that they didn't feel any need to craft an entertaining movie. Read the book. Skip the movie.
  5. nigelm
    Jun 10, 2008
    3
    Too childish for adults, too complex for kids. Average CGI and wooden performances throughout. Yawn.
  6. KevinR.
    Dec 10, 2007
    2
    I haven't read the books, but could still feel that some significant things must be missing from the original story. All bad fantasies lack one essential quality--immersiveness. The world that they create has to seem real and completely whole. LOTR accomplished this. This movie does not. The fantasy elements just seem silly and contrived (except for the daemon thing) and are pulled I haven't read the books, but could still feel that some significant things must be missing from the original story. All bad fantasies lack one essential quality--immersiveness. The world that they create has to seem real and completely whole. LOTR accomplished this. This movie does not. The fantasy elements just seem silly and contrived (except for the daemon thing) and are pulled out of the sack whenever it's convenient. Need a deus ex machina--how about an armored bear that suddenly appears out of nowhere? Or a convenient flock of rescue witches? Like the worst of the Harry Potter movies, where a hastily-remembered spell saves the day, resolutions here are never really struggled for. ALSO--what the hell is Sam Eliot doing in this movie with his absurd cowboy twang (has there ever been a more one-trick pony than this guy)? I found myself predicting his lines before he said them, and, again, I never read the books. Expand
  7. Mike
    Dec 30, 2007
    3
    Nothing special. Another movie for kids.
  8. JasonM.
    Dec 7, 2007
    0
    Awful not at all representative of the source material.
  9. BenO.
    Dec 8, 2007
    3
    If you have read the book do NOT go and watch the film you will be disappointed they have broken the story up and do not develop the characters at all. They keep the skeleton of the story but then rip out the guts and fill it with classic Disney rubbish. As a final insult they cut the story short leaving a happy ending so as not to upset anyone, in all a sham.
  10. JamesW.
    Dec 8, 2007
    0
    Special effects without a coherent plot.
  11. JustinP.
    Dec 9, 2007
    3
    I don´t know if The Golden Compass will go down as one of the biggest bombs in cinematic history, but it certainly deserves to. Seldom has so much effort and money been invested in creating a movie so thoroughly unengaging. It seems the entire movie should be plastered with little notes on the screen saying "Courtesy of Lord of the Rings" or "Inspired by Harry Potter" and the list I don´t know if The Golden Compass will go down as one of the biggest bombs in cinematic history, but it certainly deserves to. Seldom has so much effort and money been invested in creating a movie so thoroughly unengaging. It seems the entire movie should be plastered with little notes on the screen saying "Courtesy of Lord of the Rings" or "Inspired by Harry Potter" and the list goes on. Its desperate reaching to cash in on the success of those series is pathetic. The question one asks throughout the film is "OK, and why is that interesting, and why should I care?" None of the characters are intriguing or likable. The plot is fragmented and episodic and lacks any tension. The effects are impressive, but seem sadly wasted on a movie that, above all, is just really, really boring. And the end is the most shameless plea (which should be denied) for a sequel(s) in movie history. Please, spare us. Expand
  12. JB.
    Dec 9, 2007
    2
    Terrible, terrible, terrible. I went to see No Country for Old Men, but apparently you have to be 18 to get into R-rated movies now, which is why I saw this. This is not the next CoN or LoTR...for god's sake stay away!
  13. steve104
    Dec 9, 2007
    3
    Big, beautiful, and boring. Kidman is totally miscast.
  14. MattP
    Dec 9, 2007
    3
    Good acting. Good CGI. Good Source Material. Complete lack of quality scripting or any notable direction. 30 seconds scenes where various characters just tell you what has happened/is happening/ is soon to happen. Descends into a series of set-up scenes followed immediately by their respective conclusion scenes. No ending to speak of, just a muddle of confusing answers to questions no-one Good acting. Good CGI. Good Source Material. Complete lack of quality scripting or any notable direction. 30 seconds scenes where various characters just tell you what has happened/is happening/ is soon to happen. Descends into a series of set-up scenes followed immediately by their respective conclusion scenes. No ending to speak of, just a muddle of confusing answers to questions no-one asked. Succeeds only in leaving the viewer asking WHAT anyone is doing, let alone why they might be doing it. Poor movie for a good book. Expand
  15. TheECarrot
    Jan 5, 2008
    0
    This movie was a complete waste of my time. I have not read the books and if the movie is anything to go by I do not want to. One of the more stupidly memorable quotes was " I am an armored bear, I lift heavy things" (Iorek Byrnison). The kid who played Lyra was a sub standard actress who switched accents often during lines. Don't get me started about the poor casting of Kidman. This movie was a complete waste of my time. I have not read the books and if the movie is anything to go by I do not want to. One of the more stupidly memorable quotes was " I am an armored bear, I lift heavy things" (Iorek Byrnison). The kid who played Lyra was a sub standard actress who switched accents often during lines. Don't get me started about the poor casting of Kidman. Although this movie is supposed to be serious and thought provoking I spent most of it laughing at the bad acting and terrible script. The superman style flying of the witches summarizes the terrible special effects which I expected to be okay due to the technology available these days. Lastly the final battle was ridiculous with not one main good character being injured, yet every one of the bad guys was annihilated. Don't bother to see this at the movies, don't even bother hiring it on DVD. I want my money and time back! Expand
  16. KristenT.
    Dec 12, 2007
    1
    Very disappointing film. The characters, the larger themes of the books are all sacrificed for plot and special effects. The editing is poor, the score is bad. What would this film have been like with a great director like Peter Jackson? Read the books which are better than Narnia or Harry Potter. Pullman created a world fascinating for children and adults. Wouldn't you love to read Very disappointing film. The characters, the larger themes of the books are all sacrificed for plot and special effects. The editing is poor, the score is bad. What would this film have been like with a great director like Peter Jackson? Read the books which are better than Narnia or Harry Potter. Pullman created a world fascinating for children and adults. Wouldn't you love to read the screen adaptation that Tom Stoppard wrote for this? Expand
  17. GC
    Dec 10, 2007
    2
    Utter trash, honestly this film is probably one of the worst teenage/kids Christmas movies of all time, fair enough its based on a book, so may have had limitations in regards to adding on of more exciting elements, but its just plain and simply sucked.
  18. RogerL
    Dec 10, 2007
    0
    Cheese, cheese, and more cheese. No story, special effects not special. Don't waste your $10.
  19. GregB.
    Dec 4, 2007
    0
    The book was dull. The movie is duller. It's no Lord of the Rings. It's no Blades of Glory.
  20. EricC.
    Dec 7, 2007
    2
    I'm genuinely surprised that this movie is getting as much praise as it is. I really can't stand it. I wanted to walk out of the theater, but stayed because for some reason I couldn't bring myself to leave a sneak preview. The acting is atrocious, except for Craig, who is only in it for less than 10 minutes. I normally defend Kidman, but this time I just have to shake my I'm genuinely surprised that this movie is getting as much praise as it is. I really can't stand it. I wanted to walk out of the theater, but stayed because for some reason I couldn't bring myself to leave a sneak preview. The acting is atrocious, except for Craig, who is only in it for less than 10 minutes. I normally defend Kidman, but this time I just have to shake my head. She's terrible in this. The script doesn't help, either. There are some lines in this movie where I actually laughed, they were so bad ("War is the sea in which I swim". How is that not funny?). The pacing is also some of the worst I've ever witnessed. You're rushed through events, not told why people go from loving to hating each other in a heartbeat. They leave no room for any character development whatsoever, so by the big battle scene, you could care less about whether these soulless people live or die. It's really too bad, since the books are already considered classics, and the subject matter could have been really substantial and thought provoking. The worst part, though, is how this movie, like Eragon before it, tries to be like other fantasy epics, but it can't decide which one it wants to be most. Some scenes seem stolen from Harry Potter, others from LotR. I'll blame this on direction, since the books are mostly original. In the end, Golden Compass is just a mess led by a poor director using a poor script, and it's a mess that not even a thrilling battle scene can save. So just wait for that and the part where the bear gets his jaw knocked off to pop up on the internet, so then you can save your money and see everything worth seeing. Expand
  21. JoeU.
    Dec 7, 2007
    3
    I give it 3 points for superb production values. However, as it too often happens in Hollywood movies, the writing is missing in action. Utterly bad and uninteresting story, in my opinion. Worst, it is boring. I entertained myself during the movie watching the great special effects, and beautiful cinematography. Which sort of confirms my opinion that Hollywood has plenty of talent for the I give it 3 points for superb production values. However, as it too often happens in Hollywood movies, the writing is missing in action. Utterly bad and uninteresting story, in my opinion. Worst, it is boring. I entertained myself during the movie watching the great special effects, and beautiful cinematography. Which sort of confirms my opinion that Hollywood has plenty of talent for the film craft, but truly innovative and creative writing is as difficult to find in real life nowadays as the witches in this movie, and as nonsensical. Expand
  22. FrancineB
    Dec 9, 2007
    3
    I kind of liked the bears. Felt really cheated by the ending.
  23. HerbK
    Dec 9, 2007
    0
    Utter trash. Everything about the movie felt tacked on and laborious. I was just plain bored as I was watching it. The books were such a rich statement about free-will, and the nature of authority, and could easily have been read and enjoyed as adults. This movie has none of that power. Everything felt watered, down and over-simplified. They don't mention the Church, or God, or Utter trash. Everything about the movie felt tacked on and laborious. I was just plain bored as I was watching it. The books were such a rich statement about free-will, and the nature of authority, and could easily have been read and enjoyed as adults. This movie has none of that power. Everything felt watered, down and over-simplified. They don't mention the Church, or God, or Original Sin a single time in the entire film. Everything is reduced to "Authority" or "Magisterium." It is a poor adaptation of an excellent story. Expand
  24. KevinD.
    Feb 16, 2008
    2
    While Kidman has yet to entirely dissapoint me, she came pretty darn cose in this travesty of a flim. Not so much for her acting, but her sheer involvement. It was an utter travesty in terms of dialogue, made no sense whatsoever. I've never experienced physical pain while watching a film, but I felt like I had just been attacked by a rapid bull after watching "The Golden Compass." While Kidman has yet to entirely dissapoint me, she came pretty darn cose in this travesty of a flim. Not so much for her acting, but her sheer involvement. It was an utter travesty in terms of dialogue, made no sense whatsoever. I've never experienced physical pain while watching a film, but I felt like I had just been attacked by a rapid bull after watching "The Golden Compass." Who to look out for:Dakota Blue Richards, Nicole Kidman, without these two i would've given this film a zero. Expand
  25. HisM.
    Dec 10, 2007
    1
    I was dragged by the wife, who had read the books, and enjoyed them. She apologized as we walked out for making me go. I snoozed throughout. Dreg.
  26. Jakob
    Dec 12, 2007
    1
    Bad book, bad movie. I cannot understand how people compare Golden Compass to Lord of the Rings.
  27. VeroniqueD.
    Dec 12, 2007
    2
    Simply NOT GOOD,BORING,Special effect are nothing to be amazed of. Don't waste your time and money. Go rent NARNIA, it is a peace of art compare to this.
  28. LizT.
    Dec 3, 2007
    1
    I can't believe this is being marketed as a kids' movie. It's grim and depressing and shockingly violent (the fight between the bears in particular is sickeningly graphic). Ugh. Parents, take your kids to see Enchanted instead.
  29. MarcN.
    Dec 3, 2007
    3
    The Golden Compass was one of the most anticipated films of the year. With a budget well north of $150 million and a best seller as source material, expectations were high. Despite all of the debate about the His Dark Materials books, the trailers made this film look like an awesome adventure fantasy. All I can say is ----- yawn. Yes, some of the visuals work, but most look like set The Golden Compass was one of the most anticipated films of the year. With a budget well north of $150 million and a best seller as source material, expectations were high. Despite all of the debate about the His Dark Materials books, the trailers made this film look like an awesome adventure fantasy. All I can say is ----- yawn. Yes, some of the visuals work, but most look like set pieces. The integration level for many effects is low. Despite similar budgets, LOTR blows this film out of the water on every level. Compare any battle scene in LOTR with any battle scene in The Golden Compass and you will see what I mean. I never felt that Lyra was ever truly in peril. The worst problem is the storyline. Screenwriter Chris Weitz significantly deviates from Pullman's book -- stopping very short of the dramatic conclusion of the first book in Pullman's series. I know that he was ordered to tone down the anti-Christian content of the novels, but instead of merely sanitizing the screenplay, he leaves out the climax. The scenes feel disjointed and you never get a chance to really care about any of the characters. There are a lot of transition/traveling scenes and director Chris Weitz (yes, he bears double blame for this disaster) commits the ultimate cinema sin -- he spends too much time telling and not enough time showing. Even the scenes with the alethiometer become repetitive and tiresome. Dakota Blue Richards does a creditable job as Lyra Bellaqua, but those expecting Daniel Craig (as Lord Asriel) to have much screen time will be horribly disappointed. He barely appears. Christian groups will not have to do any picketing to make this film tank. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to sit through it twice. Once was more than enough for me. Don't waste the money -- certainly not full price. If you want to see a truly magical film this holiday season, see Enchanted instead. Expand
  30. MarcD
    Dec 7, 2007
    2
    A tremendous disappointment which does not warrant the time to elaborate on it's plentiful flaws.
  31. SimonB
    Dec 9, 2007
    2
    Generally pretty to look at, & Sam Elliot is fabulous as Lee Scoresby, but otherwise a disastrous interpretation of Pullman's dark & complex novel. Completely unnecessary changes (including the order of major events & cutting the real ending); clunky exposition and bland dialogue; no time to get to know any of the characters or understand the plot threads. Everyone's written as Generally pretty to look at, & Sam Elliot is fabulous as Lee Scoresby, but otherwise a disastrous interpretation of Pullman's dark & complex novel. Completely unnecessary changes (including the order of major events & cutting the real ending); clunky exposition and bland dialogue; no time to get to know any of the characters or understand the plot threads. Everyone's written as either good or evil, with no complications or depth -- even Iorek's backstory is changed to place him more squarely on the "good" side. All interesting political discussion is gone here, & the action-adventure take on the story is dull without that context. Clearly dumbed-down for U.S. mainstream audiences & watered-down to make it child-friendly. Ironic, since Pullman's books succeed precisely because they refuse to deliver a simplistic or easily-packaged story. What a disappointment. Expand
  32. LizzieB
    Dec 9, 2007
    1
    Terrible watered-down version of a book that deserved much more. Just awful.
  33. syzygy
    Dec 9, 2007
    3
    The latest trend is to bank on children fantasy tales. Some score well, others, like this, flop because the story is poorly transferred to the screen by directors with poor instincts and a love for boilerplate drama. There are no standout performances. To watch all this acting talent go to waste is the most amazing feature, however unintended, to this long bore of a movie.
  34. KenD.
    Jan 13, 2008
    3
    Another soulless, green-screen monstrosity. Wonderful source material has been eviscerated in order to film a plodding checklist of the main plot points. There is one glimpse of what could have been; at one point Mrs Coulter slaps her monkey daemon and a slow track upwards uncovers a subtle bruise on her own face. This is the only point in the entire film where something is done Another soulless, green-screen monstrosity. Wonderful source material has been eviscerated in order to film a plodding checklist of the main plot points. There is one glimpse of what could have been; at one point Mrs Coulter slaps her monkey daemon and a slow track upwards uncovers a subtle bruise on her own face. This is the only point in the entire film where something is done cinematically to convey the kind of ideas that pulse through the book. Everything else is clunky dialogue or - as seen by Lyra in the alethiometer - literal images constructed from the tacky Christmas glitter that passes for Dust. To add insult to injury the Kate Bush song that plays over the end credits is completely appalling. She, like everyone else involved, should be ashamed. Expand
  35. SamJ
    May 26, 2008
    3
    In case anyone doesnt know, phillip pullman (writer of THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!!!) {did they really need to change the name?} hates god, and this is evident in his books, as god dies in them!! but all of this has been cut out of the movie! i think the directors need to have the guts to deal with a bit of 'controversy' if theyre gonna pull off a multi-million dollar flick! Cinema is In case anyone doesnt know, phillip pullman (writer of THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!!!) {did they really need to change the name?} hates god, and this is evident in his books, as god dies in them!! but all of this has been cut out of the movie! i think the directors need to have the guts to deal with a bit of 'controversy' if theyre gonna pull off a multi-million dollar flick! Cinema is an art form, not a media and art is by no means always politically correct!!!!! i give it a 3 because some scenes in the move were in fact done quite well. but generally i didnt like it. read the books but id advise against the movie Expand
  36. mikec
    Dec 11, 2007
    1
    I will never get those hours back that the movie seemed to drag on for. I would prefer a visit to the dentist.
  37. Sep 19, 2010
    3
    How do you destroy a book franchise with universal acclaim? How do you dissapoint readers by changing the books name for the film? How do you cast bad actors for important roles? You film the golden compass. The book is brilliant but the film is terrible. The kid playing Lyra is terrible,switching between cockney and posh! Make your mind up. The director goes as far as to mix the story upHow do you destroy a book franchise with universal acclaim? How do you dissapoint readers by changing the books name for the film? How do you cast bad actors for important roles? You film the golden compass. The book is brilliant but the film is terrible. The kid playing Lyra is terrible,switching between cockney and posh! Make your mind up. The director goes as far as to mix the story up with a shocking polt change. Yes,the graphics are impressive and Ian Mckellen as Iorek is a good move but please,don't bother with the movie,just read the book (And the other 2 books in the trilogy!). Expand
  38. Dec 2, 2012
    2
    boring crap that makes no sense. With scenes that probably should've been there to explain things simply not existing. The whole thing feels a bit disjointed like somebody shot a movie that was supposed to be 4 hours long, but then cut like half of it. Pointless scenes of Daniel Craig that has no effect on anything else etc. This is 5 years too late, but I still want my money back.
  39. Mar 2, 2013
    0
    The Golden Compass is pure nonsense. The movie is a pathetic piece of trash that makes no sense because of all the meaningless jargon spewing out of everyone's mouth. A laughable film from the poor acting of the girl to the idea that kids would enjoy this. The movie is nearly impossible to sit through.
  40. Apr 13, 2012
    1
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A terrible film. The main actress is just terrible, she's clearly just reading lines and it makes her very unlikeable. The film is too short for the contents of the book, a few big scenes are missing and the rest is rushed. Last of all the good ending of the book is omitted. Expand
  41. Apr 25, 2013
    3
    Besides the horrible acting,the lazy writing and the stupid plot twist, the thing that bothered me most about this movie was the ending.Im not going to spoil it but its really lazy. They literally ended it saying "We are going to make a trilogy and not conclude this movie right now because we are SOOOO sure it wil be succesfull!" Well thanks God it wasn´t because this movie deserves to dieBesides the horrible acting,the lazy writing and the stupid plot twist, the thing that bothered me most about this movie was the ending.Im not going to spoil it but its really lazy. They literally ended it saying "We are going to make a trilogy and not conclude this movie right now because we are SOOOO sure it wil be succesfull!" Well thanks God it wasn´t because this movie deserves to die in silence. Expand
  42. Feb 11, 2013
    3
    What a pathetic adaptation. The casting was good though. The bear looked ridiculous. The fight scenes were censored and the whole narrative was turned on its head. Even the ending was changed to suit children.
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
  1. 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.
  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. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    Impressively rendered but oddly uninviting adventure.