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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 320 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. AdamP.
    Dec 3, 2007
    Slow at first but picks up speed and leaves you really thinking.
  2. g
    Dec 7, 2007
    Very enjoyable, even though there were changes from the book. Great SFX, good acting, compelling story. Favorite movie of this year.
  3. WarrenE.
    Jan 4, 2008
    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. Expand
  4. MichaelT.
    Dec 9, 2007
    Meh, it was a nice movie, certainly entertaining, but it could have been better... Some plotholes and rush-rush editing.... But on the whole a nice movie. Expand
  5. 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
  6. KentL
    Dec 7, 2007
    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. Expand
  7. GregB.
    Dec 4, 2007
    The book was dull. The movie is duller. It's no Lord of the Rings. It's no Blades of Glory.

See all 167 User Reviews