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Author Topic: The Golden Compass points to suck  (Read 1176 times)
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whiteboyskim
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« on: June 07, 2008, 02:54:01 AM »

Holy shit. We were watching this film tonight and I made it exactly to the 45:00 mark before I stood up and said, "Okay! I'm done. We've watched movies before that have beaten you. Congratulations honey, you picked one that finally beat me. Can't do it anymore."

So here I sit completely spent and bleeding after having been assaulted by exposition for 45 fucking minutes. In the first half hour of the film, there is literally not one conversation AT ALL that isn't pure setup for the world. None of it is entertaining either. You know why I hung in there with the extended cuts of LOTR which did roughly the same thing? Because they were done well, that's why. They conveyed enough story so you were able to pick it up on the fly and then ran with it. The characters existed in the world around them and more to the point believed in the world around them. It's the exact same thing as the original Star Wars trilogy. The characters lived in a fantastical universe in both cases but because the characters LIVED THERE they weren't performing to the cheap seats. They were, in essence, going about their daily lives and as such didn't feel the need to stop and explain everything that's happening to one another every five minutes. It's the exact problem plaguing, funny enough, the new Star Wars trilogy wherein the characters constantly talk about this and that when they should know about it already since THEY LIVE THERE.

The Golden Compass falls into this trap the second it starts with the most convoluted voice over setting up a universe this side of David Lynch's "Dune." I felt like I needed a notepad to jot down definitions of what everything was and how everything related to one another. After the half hour mark, the film doesn't shift into high gears when it becomes more of an adventure. It's the most boring adventure I've sort of sat through which is amazing considering the litany of awful films I've seen in my lifetime. Fantasy works best when you are immersed in the world and accept things as they are. I don't need to be told a history of literally every single establishment, organization, belief structure, or metaphysical element in a film to believe in it. Show me actors believing in what they're doing, and I'll merrily run along beside it. But don't treat me like I just walked into a macro-biology lecture where you proceed to lay out the finer details of everything in the world long before you reach anything resembling a point.
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Dan_Theman
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« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2008, 03:56:35 AM »

The film gave me the distinct feeling that the very good story was left on the cutting room floor.
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helot2000
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« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2008, 04:21:59 AM »

It's a damn shame because the His Dark Materials trilogy was such a treat to read. 
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Rumpy
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« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2008, 04:24:58 AM »

What pissed me off the most about it was the chronology of the two major events in the movie. Having the bear fight near the middle and the blowing up of the institution at the end, which totally changed the underlining nature of the story since there were a lot of plot threads in book related to these two events, and now those were gone. The way the movie set things up made everything seem like it was just a simple excersize.
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« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2008, 07:02:11 AM »

I read the trilogy right before the movie came out. Unfortunately for the movie, the real action doesn't get started until the middle of the second book. This first movie is all about building up the worldview. The battle against god ramps up later. The best scene of the whole movie was Lyra talking to Nicole Kidman about why the Church needs to control people.
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« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2008, 04:05:44 PM »

~shrug~ I enjoyed it, thought it was decent. Nothing special mind you. (ps, I did not read any of the books).

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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2008, 05:15:41 PM »

This can't be as off track as Beowulf.
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JohnathanStrange
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2008, 05:49:39 PM »

Strange to think that a movie with armored talking polar bears, shape changing demons, witches, "dust", parallel worlds, Eva Green, etc. would be a sucky boring movie. But that's Hollywood!
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2008, 08:49:09 PM »

Yeah, we watched this a while back... Crap.  Talk about no ending...
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« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2009, 10:09:15 PM »

A little thread necromancy here. I finally got around to watching this the other night. I was really hoping that it had just been overshadowed by the whole religious protest hub-bub, but no, it unfortunately just wasn't very good. The reordering of the bear fight and Bolvangar totally threw me for a loop, and as someone who has read the books, it was distracting. In general, it just felt like movie was just steaming along as fast it could, missing all of the detail. In the book, you learn so much more about the world, Lyra, the gyptians, the witches (who are hardly present at all), the bears etc. and here it was just crammed into under 2 hours. A good comparison would be Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, where I thought they did a fantastic job compressing a very long book into its essential story. But in book 5 of a series there's a lot less you need to educate people about, and the didn't do a very good job here.

Word is the movie did a lot better overseas, so it could conceivably get a sequel, but it seems unlikely. They'd probably have to replace Lyra, for one, as she's several years older now.
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« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2009, 10:31:29 PM »

Such good books, but not a great movie. I have it on Blu-Ray, mostly because it was visually amazing. To try to "end happy," they trimmed out the last two chapters of the book, and re-arranged the end of the A and B plots, which, in my opinion, just made things confusing. It's a dense backstory, and required a lot of exposition just to explain the basics.

Some stories, I think, just don't work when filmed.
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metallicorphan
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« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2009, 10:55:55 PM »

yeah i loved the books-the first one being called Northern Lights here in the UK,not Golden Compass...not sure why they changed it,both titles are relevant to the story,and Americans know what the Northern Lights are,seen as though they are usually in your Continent,so it isn't like Harry Potter and the Philosophers stone being changed to Sorcerers stone(both book and film title was changed for the American audience i believe)


anyway i watched the film at Xmas,wasn't anything special,it was so-so,which was a shame because it had a great cast(Nicole Kidman,Daniel Craig,Sam Elliot,Ian Mckellen,Christopher Lee,Eva Green)..i reckon that the planned sequels are out of the window,right?


why didnt it work?....the Director(Chris Weitz) isnt that well experienced in the Directors chair,he has done 'About a Boy' and had something to do with the first American Pie...he also had a hand at writing the movie...maybe he was the reason,maybe not,but then again maybe it was just one of those books that shouldn't be attempted to put on film(which LOTR was meant to be for the longest time)


its a shame for the lead Dakota Blue Richards,that was her first film and i didn't think she was all that bad
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« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2009, 01:43:50 AM »

Quote from: metallicorphan on May 11, 2009, 10:55:55 PM

yeah i loved the books-the first one being called Northern Lights here in the UK,not Golden Compass...not sure why they changed it,both titles are relevant to the story,and Americans know what the Northern Lights are,seen as though they are usually in your Continent

You can read about this in places. Apparently prior to naming the trilogy 'His Dark Materials', Pullman was thinking of using part of a different quote that included 'Golden Compass'. It was not a reference to the alethiometer. However, the American marketing crew somehow got wind of this but though it did refer to the alethiometer. By the time Pullman found out, they had gotten so exited about calling the US printing of the first the book 'The Golden Compass' that he basically had to deal with it.
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Rumpy
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2009, 04:43:58 AM »

I liked the movie, but yeah, switching the A & B plots made no sense. There was so much exposition during those parts, that moving them around effectively removed a lot of the soul from the story.
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