Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 319 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Based on author Philip Pullman's bestselling and award-winning novel, The Golden Compass tells the first story in Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. The Golden Compass is an exciting fantasy adventure, set in an alternative world where people's souls manifest themselves as animals, talking bears fight wars, and Gyptians and witches coexist. At the center of the story is Lyra, a 12-year-old girl who starts out trying to rescue a friend who's been kidnapped by a mysterious organization known as the Gobblers--and winds up on an epic quest to save not only her world, but ours as well. (New Line Cinema) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 33
  2. Negative: 3 out of 33
  1. 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.
  2. A demanding blend of spectacle, drama and exposition of ideas.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    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.
  4. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Impressively rendered but oddly uninviting adventure.
  5. Reviewed by: Deborah Day
    Ultimately fails as a film in its broad strokes and inadequate scene development.
  6. 40
    Not only did those so-called "demons" take the form of animals, but they actually talked!
  7. The final sad joke is this: Weitz took a wonderful story about the danger of severing a soul from its otherwise empty body and did that very thing to his source.

See all 33 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 42 out of 167
  1. 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
  2. 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. Expand
  3. 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.

    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!
  4. 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
  5. 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. Expand
  6. 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
  7. 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. Expand

See all 167 User Reviews