'Golden Compass' Slowly Spins Its Convoluted Tale
Machosky, Michael, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
Certain partisans of Phillip Pullman's beloved "His Dark Materials" fantasy novels claim that they're superior to "The Lord of the Rings." Supposedly, they're witty, smart and packed with references to physics, philosophy and theology, appealing to both adults and adolescents.
That might be -- I've never read the books. But as a movie, "The Golden Compass" is deadly dull, despite solid efforts in casting and special effects.
Maybe the story has subtleties that don't translate to the big screen. Maybe we're just reaching the fantasy movie saturation point.
In this world, everyone's soul (called a "daemon") is outside their body, materializing as an animal that reflects their personality. Oddly, characters can talk to their daemon as though it's a separate person.
A wily, troublesome young orphan, Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) resides at Jordan College, under the watchful eye of scientist Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig). Asriel is bent on proving the existence of a mysterious metaphysical property called "Dust" -- not unlike "The Force" -- that connects this world to others. …