I'm too busy watching movies to read much, but from what I hear, the screen version of The Golden Compass is a letdown if you're an admirer of the His Dark Materials book trilogy. However, if you're a fan of mega-budget storybook films chock-full of stars, you're in for a real treat.
In a parallel dimension, humans' souls manifest themselves as talking animal companions, called daemons. While a nefarious government bureau is cracking down on citizens, the young niece (Dakota Blue Richards) of a notable freethinker (Daniel Craig) is the only person who can wield a magical device that answers all questions truthfully. With her team of quasi-outlaws, the girl races to save the day.
There is a ridiculous number of A-list actors in this film, yet all seem appropriately placed. Even Western legend Sam Elliott makes an appearance amid two Lord of the Rings alums and a pair of Casino Royale castmates.
If there's a problem with the film, it's not casting but an overabundance of characters and a subplot that may force easily distracted viewers to start looking elsewhere. I recommend everyone make like a 6-year-old and simply enjoy the talking animals—some which look eerily like Coke mascots—and the swirl of fantasy while dispensing with the details.
There's a particular monkey daemon that may give children nightmares, but otherwise, this is good family fun, and is quite the cool mix of quality acting with special effects and a large dose of imagination. I do, however, offer one warning: be prepared for the abrupt sequel-setting ending.
This video courtesy of Hollywood Video, 590 Broadway Ave., 208-342-6117.