User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 320 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 91 out of 320

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  1. Aug 25, 2014
    I have not read the books this story is based on, which means I am reviewing this film completely based on the story I saw on screen.

    Let's put it this way: I had been reading so much negative feedback about this film that I was positively surprised after watching it.

    The movie looked good, sounded good, and all in all, it was pretty great! The plot, the story; actors and acting.
    Even Lyra, the "little girl who will change the course of the world forever" (yes, we have seen those before...) was annoyingly realistic with her immaturity.

    But as with every movie, there were some things that just didn't click, and therefore I won't give this four stars: as good as the plot of the movie was, it left me feeling as if everything wasn't told, explained, or shown well enough. Once again, perhaps those who have read the books know some facts in advance. To me, it was a bit frustrating at points. Confusing, even.

    And once again in a vast battlefield it is amazingly easy to launch a "surprise" attack on your enemies... wow. That never ceases to amaze me. ;)

    Also, Serafina Pekkala (and her daemon Kaisa) make me crack up every time! Finnish names in an otherwise English film? Not good. Not good at all!
  2. Aug 8, 2014
    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
  3. Jul 14, 2014
    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 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
  4. Jan 31, 2014
    This movie was breathtaking and beautiful. It was supposed to be a trilogy but unfortunately due to the economic crisis in 2008, the sequel was eventually cancelled. Moreover, the church went against the movie for an invalid reason. Overall, it was a good movie no matter what you haters claim... just go look at its Box Office rate. Us, the fans, are gloating over the haters because this movie was such a success financially. Expand
  5. Oct 1, 2013
    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.
  6. Aug 24, 2013
    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.
  7. Jul 14, 2013
    While it is not perfect, it is still a fun filled fantasy that boasts of grand visuals, a cool and interesting story, awesome music (Alexandre Desplat, again he is amazing) and great direction. I enjoyed this film, and oh, it is not anit-Christ. If the novel was, this film is not. It is a pretty and interestingly great film.
  8. Apr 25, 2013
    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 die in silence. Collapse
  9. Mar 2, 2013
    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.
  10. Feb 11, 2013
    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.
  11. Dec 2, 2012
    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.
  12. Jun 10, 2012
    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 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
  13. Apr 13, 2012
    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
  14. ALF
    Aug 28, 2011
    Amazing! Roger Ebert and I agree for a change. If a film inspires people to go out and read the books (His Dark Materials) then it is has done its job. I am currently reading the books again because thanks to a group of silly devolved organizations based in the USA, the rest of the story will not be made into film despite the Golden Compass doubling its money at the box office. There is always going to be the book versus the film arguments "oh, the film is not like the book." Perhaps people who say things like that should read a single chapter out loud and time themselves. When they figure out an average chapter will take around 10 - 15 minutes to read properly, then perhaps they will understand a scriptwriters job better. Yes, the film is not like the book, but it has taken the essence of the story and made the Golden Compass into something different from the usual film fare. I very much hope the cowardly filmmakers in Hollywood lift a suitable digit at the silly organizations attempting to censor what the masses can see and hear. Expand
  15. Jul 6, 2011
    Prepare to enter another world of the fantasy genre as New Line Cinema (the producer of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) presents Chris Wietz's "The Golden Compass". It revolves around Lyra Belaqua, a young girl living among scholars in Oxford's Jordan College. Her world may seem diverse, from physical embodiments of souls that take the shape of an animal, but similar with people around you to become friends and enemies. She is thrown into a perilous adventure when she overhears a conversation of an extraordinary microscopic particle, Dust. This particle is said to unite different worlds, and is feared by many who want to destroy it forever. As Lyra is flung into the middle of this horrible struggle, she meets wondrous creatures both big and small, and villains who are not what they seem. Gobblers, that kidnap children, will turn out in the most unexpected places. And a magical compass of gold that will answer any question if one is skilled enough to read it. Lyra's adventure continues throughout these three books, and the first is about to be told. The only problem that I had with this movie was the Anti-Christian overtones of the Magisterium during the film. I'm not with the Catholic Church, but I agree that the word "Heresy" was the only reason why the second and third movies would not be adapted into screen. That's it for my problem. The casting was great and the actors were very decent. Daniel Craig was solid as Lord Asriel despite the fact that he wasn't given enough screentime. Nicole Kidman was decent as Mrs. Coulter, but her hair is very different from the book counterpart as it describes her hair as blond. Ian Mckellen was amazing as the great armoured ice bear (also known as a Pansjorborne) Iorek Byrnison, and Dakota Blue Richards was very convincing and compelling as Lyra when it comes to actresses in movie adaptations and the rest of the actors turned out good. The sets were very creative, but at most times, they were quite dark due to the Svalbard place. The CGI on the animals are very damn impressive. The daemons (just like in the book despite the fact that it was mispronounced) were very visualized and the polar bears are also visualized. The action scenes were very epic and the direction from Chris Wietz was well-paced. The Golden Compass lacks in any depth, but it is a darker, deeper, and fantastic adaptation of Phillip Pullman's greatest fantasy series. 8/10 Expand
  16. Sep 19, 2010
    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 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

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
    Impressively rendered but oddly uninviting adventure.