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. JoshuaD.
    Dec 23, 2007
    6
    I thought this was an average fantasy film based on a brilliant book. Too many wooden performances dragged the film down (which was mostly dependent on the special effects anyway). The ending was neither as suspenseful or as satisfying as I remember the book to be which only keeps me wondering how the sequel will be dealt with.
  2. KathrynC
    Dec 14, 2007
    5
    The movie was entertaining and beautiful. The cast all did an excellent job. However, it's ironic how one of the film's themes is about soul severing, and then they went and took the soul out of the movie. The movie felt rushed and there was no character development. Also, the worst mistake the film made was that it cut out the ending. They practically gave it a happy ending The movie was entertaining and beautiful. The cast all did an excellent job. However, it's ironic how one of the film's themes is about soul severing, and then they went and took the soul out of the movie. The movie felt rushed and there was no character development. Also, the worst mistake the film made was that it cut out the ending. They practically gave it a happy ending instead of the suspenseful and emotional ending of the book. They neutered this film. Expand
  3. GwilymD.
    Dec 7, 2007
    5
    A dull and perfunctory adaptation of one of the greatest books of our time. Feels flat, should have been half an hour longer to let scenes grow and characters breathe. MASSIVE mistake in cutting the ending and changing the running of the plot (to create several unfathomable strands)
  4. Boomer
    Dec 9, 2007
    5
    Had all the ingredients to make a great film, sadly, the chef was an idiot and the great performances and killer storyline get left behind in a mad rush. Hopefully they will put a more talented helmer in charge for the next one.
  5. DT
    Dec 9, 2007
    5
    I think this is a movie with a lot of potential but sadly, New Line was afraid of controversy and thus you have instead a flick that bounces around from subject to subject with no explanation. I would very much be interested in seeing an unedited version of this movie should one come out on the market. As this is now, however, it's a lot of misused acting and good CG and not enough I think this is a movie with a lot of potential but sadly, New Line was afraid of controversy and thus you have instead a flick that bounces around from subject to subject with no explanation. I would very much be interested in seeing an unedited version of this movie should one come out on the market. As this is now, however, it's a lot of misused acting and good CG and not enough exposition to tie it all together. A shame really, as I would love to get excited for another fantasy epic in theatres....but this won't be it. Expand
  6. TomP.
    Dec 9, 2007
    4
    Terrible. Boring in parts - generic action sequences, relies heavily on CGI and impressive soundtrack to cover up the weak acting.Many changes made to book, character development sacrificed to CGI.
  7. ChadS.
    Jan 10, 2008
    5
    Here is a paradox for you. Arguably, we want to learn more about the dust from one of these parallel universes Lord Asriel(Daniel Craig) prattles on about, but sitting through two more installments of this upstart trilogy(billed as the thinking man's "Harry Potter"), methinks is a taxing proposition, because "The Golden Compass" lays an egg, and it certainly isn't golden. For Here is a paradox for you. Arguably, we want to learn more about the dust from one of these parallel universes Lord Asriel(Daniel Craig) prattles on about, but sitting through two more installments of this upstart trilogy(billed as the thinking man's "Harry Potter"), methinks is a taxing proposition, because "The Golden Compass" lays an egg, and it certainly isn't golden. For starters, a disproportionate amount of time is spent at the university, in which the exposition is laid out to us; at one point, in seminar-like fashion from a lectern. Lyra(Dakota Blue Richards), eventually, like Bilbo Baggins, leaves behind her sheltered existence and accompanies Marisa(Nicole Kidman) to the north as her assistant. That's when "The Golden Compass" starts to pay the price for its needless dawdling. Kidman is cheated out of precious screen time as Marisa, or rather Marisa's spirit, makes us wonder what it would be like if Joan Crawford had a monkey(what makes Marisa angry reminded me of the wire hanger scene in "Mommie Dearest"). This is where the film loses its footing. There's evidence of heavy editing here. "The Golden Compass" should've established Marisa as Lyra's mentor before the girl learns the truth about her duplicitous nature. The movie never truly recovers. This filmmaker is a novice at staging action scenes, and it shows. Kidman is upstaged by a talking polar bear. That's some bear, though. Expand
  8. KelvinL
    Jan 9, 2008
    6
    My 10 year old nephew loved it but I wasn't so blown away. Whilst the sets were impressive and the cast gave the film some gravitas I couldn't help feeling disappointed at the ending. Indeed I didn't actually expect the film to end when it did, I was expecting another showdown at least. I suppose the unresolved story lines were designed to open the way for a sequel, only I My 10 year old nephew loved it but I wasn't so blown away. Whilst the sets were impressive and the cast gave the film some gravitas I couldn't help feeling disappointed at the ending. Indeed I didn't actually expect the film to end when it did, I was expecting another showdown at least. I suppose the unresolved story lines were designed to open the way for a sequel, only I don't get a sense of completion of the first film. Can I really wait till 2009 at the earliest to see the next installment? Well the film needed to be much more rounded for me but having said that no doubt I'll be viewing the sequel whenever it may come. Expand
  9. SeanR
    Dec 12, 2007
    5
    New Line fumbled by choosing a novice instead of an expert to fill in the director's chair. This is especially true given the depth and complexity of the source material.
  10. BenB
    Dec 12, 2007
    5
    DJ Im's point about religious backlash is quite obviously a knee jerk to the fact he likes a film that everyone else does not. How stupid is it to call Rolling Stone and Empire's view as religious backlash? I see very little in the way of religious content in either publication.Simply put, this film blows, botched with cheesy effects and less flow than k-fed.
  11. TimW.
    Dec 12, 2007
    4
    It is a children's film but so is Monsters Inc and I loved that. Slow moving with to many morals pushed into the story line, eg. the poor alcoholic bear fighting etc. etc. My directors kids loved it but I'm the one writing the review so it's a 3.5 which rounds up to a 4 since it's nearly Christmas.
  12. JaredM
    Dec 10, 2007
    6
    For those that have read the books, this movie tries too hard to encompass everything and thusly spends no time on creating character bonds. The story is there but the progression of the story is lacking. Too busy, not enough time spent on making me care.
  13. KentL
    Dec 7, 2007
    4
    Graphics and acting were well done. Story was solid. But, I was so unhappy when I got to the end when I was slammed in the face with credits before the story ended. Yep, it's part 1 of who-knows how many parts. I wouldn't have gone if I had known that. Harry potter encapsulates a full story in it - this just left me hanging.
  14. JayH.
    Apr 24, 2008
    6
    Too complex for it's own good, rather than to flow steadily, it comes off more muddled than anything else. However, the art direction and sets are wonderful, and even though the special effects are computer generated, I thought they were terrific and imaginative. Family film? I can't see most kids sitting through the whole film. It sure is pretty to look at though.
  15. GregA
    May 25, 2008
    6
    Not realising this was part of a trilogy I was disappointed to see it end so abruptly, but at least it was plainly obvious that another installment is coming. I thought the concepts of this movie were bizarre but it made me interested and I am keen to watch the upcoming movies and see what the big deal about "dust" is all about! However it is not a tidy movie and there is too much Not realising this was part of a trilogy I was disappointed to see it end so abruptly, but at least it was plainly obvious that another installment is coming. I thought the concepts of this movie were bizarre but it made me interested and I am keen to watch the upcoming movies and see what the big deal about "dust" is all about! However it is not a tidy movie and there is too much information and stuff happening that leaves you disconnected from the film and sort of wondering what the hell was that all about? Worth a DVD look, it has interest. Expand
  16. MorganF
    Jul 20, 2008
    6
    A great visual experience, but it failed to convey Pullmans sense of mystery. The ending was also at the wrong time, and you could tell they were rushing in some parts.
  17. brentoni
    Dec 10, 2007
    4
    They tried to condense a very long story into a 2-hour movie and then offered no closure for the audience at the end. Character relationships are barely developed and the story jumps around confusingly. With all its faults, the movie was visually impressive and the little actress who played Lyra is very likable.
  18. HollyC.
    Dec 10, 2007
    6
    I'm a big fan of the first novel in this trilogy, however I went in w/ lower expectations for the film after reading some initial reviews. I would have to agree w/ a majority of the criticisms --they should have used some of the loads of CG money and funneled it towards a better script, director, editor and score (but really, writing and direction). I was, in the end, entertained I I'm a big fan of the first novel in this trilogy, however I went in w/ lower expectations for the film after reading some initial reviews. I would have to agree w/ a majority of the criticisms --they should have used some of the loads of CG money and funneled it towards a better script, director, editor and score (but really, writing and direction). I was, in the end, entertained I guess--and it held my interest throughout most of the 2+ hrs--but it's definitely a mess as a whole. Pacing is pretty bad as is the story itself how its adapted. It's definitely going for a Lord of the Rings type adaptation, but falls way, way too short. The acting is quite good though (compared to say Narnia where the kid actors were wencingly bad) so at least that works. And the momentous Bear-Fight is awesome. But overall, without great writing (er script adaptation) and direction, there's something missing--a little too much eye candy and short on heart I guess. Expand
  19. KenG.
    Dec 27, 2007
    4
    As an atheist I can always go for a good anti-god, anti-religion story. But not only did I see little in here that was anti- religion, I found this also to be an often slow, sometimes incoherent, and empty story, devoid of any real sense of wonder, magic, and adventure. The film touches all the bases in a very perfuntionary way, but it just feels empty, with no real spirit or story As an atheist I can always go for a good anti-god, anti-religion story. But not only did I see little in here that was anti- religion, I found this also to be an often slow, sometimes incoherent, and empty story, devoid of any real sense of wonder, magic, and adventure. The film touches all the bases in a very perfuntionary way, but it just feels empty, with no real spirit or story telling skill do it. It has isolated moments and scenes that are effective, but it just never flows as a coherent story or adventure. Also, it takes an awlful long time getting started. One last thing, if you are going to put Daniel Craig in your movie, could you please use him. Expand
  20. CaseyH
    Dec 6, 2007
    4
    As a huge fan of the books, I was disappointed. The character development was nonexistent, the plot line was weak, and (surprise, surprise) they changed many things around that would have been better left untouched. This film should have been made longer in order to keep in important information. I can guarantee that if you have not read the books, you will not understand most of what is As a huge fan of the books, I was disappointed. The character development was nonexistent, the plot line was weak, and (surprise, surprise) they changed many things around that would have been better left untouched. This film should have been made longer in order to keep in important information. I can guarantee that if you have not read the books, you will not understand most of what is happening. The filmmakers succeeded only in creating a shallow, unfeeling, empty world with meaningless characters populating it... my advice? Pick up the novels, leave the film. Expand
  21. [Anonymous]
    Dec 7, 2007
    6
    Dumbed down beyond belief.
  22. KevinM
    Dec 7, 2007
    6
    I believe that the director never read the book, opting instead to read the Cliff Notes while crossing off all the themes and replacing them with things like "generic friendship theme" and "generic courage theme". If you never read the books, it's a solid movie. If you wanted a more accurate transferal from book to screen, you will be thoroughly disappointed.
  23. BillyS.
    Dec 7, 2007
    5
    All razzle, no dazzle. Absolutely nothing about the story builds enough interest to warrant a trilogy out of this. Special effects do not a movie make.
  24. RyanK.
    Dec 7, 2007
    6
    Having seen this movie without reading the source first, I can say that the book must be a terrifically interesting read. It was obvious that the director thought so too; it seemed he tried to incorporate as many elements from the source as possible. Unfortunately that made for a story that jumped from place to place without lingering on the interesting part, the connections between the Having seen this movie without reading the source first, I can say that the book must be a terrifically interesting read. It was obvious that the director thought so too; it seemed he tried to incorporate as many elements from the source as possible. Unfortunately that made for a story that jumped from place to place without lingering on the interesting part, the connections between the events. The Victorian world of steeples and airships was sufficiently interesting that I wanted to be immersed in it, but this movie did not let me do so. Expand
  25. MannyR.
    Dec 8, 2007
    4
    I was completely disappointed. They left so much background information from the book out-- I don't even know where to begin. And the ending... what the heck?!?! What about Asriel (not saying more for those who haven't read the book)? I feel that the movie was rushed-- 180 million bucks doesn't buy much anymore, I guess. Two shinning stars in all this: Nicole Kidman did a I was completely disappointed. They left so much background information from the book out-- I don't even know where to begin. And the ending... what the heck?!?! What about Asriel (not saying more for those who haven't read the book)? I feel that the movie was rushed-- 180 million bucks doesn't buy much anymore, I guess. Two shinning stars in all this: Nicole Kidman did a phenomenal job as Mrs. Coulter. I totally ate up every scene she was in. And the part of Lyra was also very well done by that adorable little girl. I was really cheering this movie on, especially with the recent backlash by Christian fundamentalists calling the movie "atheism marketing for kids." But now that I've seen it, I worry that the movie will fail, not because of the ridiculous "boycott," but because it sucked in its own right. Expand
  26. TroyK
    Dec 8, 2007
    4
    Worth seeing at the big screen, but only for the visuals. I have never read the books and had no trouble following the story, but was constantly saying "WHAT?" throughout the movie. Huge plot holes, so many things that didn't make sense that I will just stop here.
  27. Daiki
    Dec 9, 2007
    4
    A complete waste of time. No life and no soul. Read the book and, if you have done so already, read it again instead of seeing this joke.
  28. GarrettH.
    Dec 9, 2007
    5
    What I stated after leaving the theater is. I wish we had seen no country for old men instead. This movie is nothing short of typical and utterly uninteresting. I haven't read any of the books and it's obvious to me they left out a LOT of material in this movie. I can handle a rushed scene here and there. But, just about everything in this movie is rushed. One minute she meets a What I stated after leaving the theater is. I wish we had seen no country for old men instead. This movie is nothing short of typical and utterly uninteresting. I haven't read any of the books and it's obvious to me they left out a LOT of material in this movie. I can handle a rushed scene here and there. But, just about everything in this movie is rushed. One minute she meets a bear the next she's utterly attached to said bear... wait didn't she just meet that bear like 3 minutes ago? If this movie wanted any chance at success it needed to be made as a trilogy or such from the start. As a stand alone movie it is very unfulfilling. The special effects are nothing spectacular these days. And the huge fight scene takes place at night so all you see is dark figured. Obviously it looked bad so they had to make it nighttime to compensate would be my guess. The story is far too in depth to be crammed into 2 hours. So the whole plot makes little sense. No way would a child keep up with this movie. I also don't think I would bring a non teenager to this movie. I think it is fairly violent and some of the scenes could be especially scary to a smaller child (insert gigantic bear roar here). If you are adults with no kids. Skip this movie and wait for DVD. If you have 12-15 YO kids who seem interested.. Meh I'd still skip it but they might get more out of it than you will. Expand
  29. StevenL.
    Dec 9, 2007
    4
    For those of you who loved Pullman
  30. TonyS.
    Dec 9, 2007
    6
    Good, but I was expecting much more. I would have been happier if this movie had been rated (PG). This is a PG-13 movie right? I should figured something was a miss when the movie theater was flooded with kids....but I didn't. Parents just drop your kids off and pick them up when its over (cause there ain't much there for you).
  31. LuisG.
    Feb 27, 2008
    6
    It's hard not to feel like your being sold repetiveness after harry potter takes the crown and narnia steps down as well... compass is a good film .... visually stunning ... hope thers a sequel.
  32. JoeyK
    May 25, 2008
    6
    Decent. The visuals were great, across the board. The acting was solid. The message was good. The problem is, the movie watches like a detailed synopsis of the book, not a new portrayal of it. During the translation, they failed to turn the book into something cinematically functional. Overall, the movie is decent, regardless, but it certainly feels like an ad for a much better book.
  33. DaveF
    Dec 11, 2007
    6
    Watered-down, heavily-censored version of a dark and subtle story. Has its moments--most are eye-rolling, not heart-stopping. I was half-expecting the polar bears to whip out bottles of Coke.
  34. Jun 10, 2012
    5
    I have never read the book or was any sort of a fan before I watched the film, I it certainly did not inspire me to want to read the books. In any case, "The Golden Compass" puts up a good fight trying to be a good fantasy epic, but it does not quite achieve that level or recognition. Some aspects of the film are very good, namely most of the technical aspects. Excellent production andI have never read the book or was any sort of a fan before I watched the film, I it certainly did not inspire me to want to read the books. In any case, "The Golden Compass" puts up a good fight trying to be a good fantasy epic, but it does not quite achieve that level or recognition. Some aspects of the film are very good, namely most of the technical aspects. Excellent production and costume design, along with a decent score and great visual effects provide for some of the films highlights. Unfortunately, the cinematography was totally off. It had this strange, airy quality to it, that made me feel as if I were watching a documentary or something. I cannot quite articulate it, but it definitely blocked me from being able to ever fully immerse myself into the story. It did not help how annoying the portrayal of the main character was by Dakota Blue Richards. Such an annoying kid. I've been told that she's supposed to be like that in the books too, but I just do not understand why. Who would want to read/watch such a miserable character. On the other hand, Nicole Kidman gave an amazingly appropriate, cold performance as Mrs.Coulter, which was another highlights of the film. But other than that, the film never quite tickled my interest to engage it fully, or be sad about the fact that the sequels have been cancelled. Expand
  35. Aug 10, 2015
    5
    The Golden Compass’ grand and epic scale and spectacular visuals don’t make up for the weak presentation. Fans of the books can rest assured that the story is left mostly intact but non-book readers will be confused. The characters are underdeveloped as all they do is explain what their role is and what’s going on while the story moves so quickly that various scenes and elements are notThe Golden Compass’ grand and epic scale and spectacular visuals don’t make up for the weak presentation. Fans of the books can rest assured that the story is left mostly intact but non-book readers will be confused. The characters are underdeveloped as all they do is explain what their role is and what’s going on while the story moves so quickly that various scenes and elements are not explained well. The film both over and under explains its characters and world at the same time making it hard to connect to anything in the film. When its all over The Golden Compass mostly works as an adaptation, minus a questionable decision in regards to the ending, but as a film it’s a bit of a mess that will baffle anyone unfamiliar with the story. Expand
  36. Oct 1, 2013
    6
    As children's escapist fantasy goes, the film is not terrible, but does have an unfinished air about it. Also suffers from occupying similar ground as the Narnia, Potter and Rings films (over saturated), extra marks for bagging Kate Bush to sing on the credits.
  37. Aug 24, 2013
    5
    The movie itself is quite impressive. However, the story is way too bizarre and complicated for a child even an adult to follow. it tries to be the next huge movie series, but doesn't fill the excitement with good characters.
  38. Aug 8, 2014
    4
    I remember the end of the movie. I remember the credits rolling. And I specifically remember saying; "That's it?" The movie is one slow ride with no resolution, continuity, or congruity. I have never read the book. But doubtless all those book critics couldn't be that off. The movie is only amazing in one aspect; the special effects. And the cinematography. The acting is dull, as is story.I remember the end of the movie. I remember the credits rolling. And I specifically remember saying; "That's it?" The movie is one slow ride with no resolution, continuity, or congruity. I have never read the book. But doubtless all those book critics couldn't be that off. The movie is only amazing in one aspect; the special effects. And the cinematography. The acting is dull, as is story. And all the animal-human bondage I just found to be unpleasant and incoherent. So slow and faulty it'll break down midway and you'll be stuck until the end. Unless you want to jump out. That's a pretty good decision. Expand
  39. Jul 14, 2014
    4
    a very disappointing adaptation. the last time i felt dejected halfway into the movie was with tim burton's PLANET OF THE APES, before which this film feels like a total abomination. despite Dakota Blue Richards' Lyra and Nicole Kidman's Mrs. Coulter, and the visual effects, this film really is nothing. probably the fact that i read the book first and loved it made all the difference anda very disappointing adaptation. the last time i felt dejected halfway into the movie was with tim burton's PLANET OF THE APES, before which this film feels like a total abomination. despite Dakota Blue Richards' Lyra and Nicole Kidman's Mrs. Coulter, and the visual effects, this film really is nothing. probably the fact that i read the book first and loved it made all the difference and in fact, i suggest you all do the same. avoid this film if you can and read the book. the book has a proper narrative with exemplary character development and plotline, all of which this film lacks. the only thing keeping this film together is the visual effects and nothing more. Expand
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.