The Golden Compass is the latest in a series of fantasy epics that have been made into films on the strength of the good showings for The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Harry Potter series. It is based on the first book of a trilogy by Philip Pullman.

The Golden Compass shares with other fantasy epics certain formulaic characteristics. It is set in an alternate universe where magic of some sort exists. The central character is a person, in this case a cute, spunky young girl named Lyra, played by newcomer Dakota Blue Richards, about whom there is a prophecy. There is an evil force that threatens the world, in this case the mysterious Magisterium, in the books a counter part of the Catholic Church, the movie a somewhat more vague, perhaps more secular evil bureaucracy. There is a quest to be accomplished, which for Lyra to find out what is happening to children who are going missing and to rescue them, along with finding the secret of something called “dust” which binds all the universes and about which the Magisterium wants kept a secret.

And, finally, there are a host of fascinating supporting characters, ranging from the mysterious, evil Mrs. Coulter played with menacing eloquence by Nicole Kidman to a talking polar bear voiced by Ian McKellan. Rounding out the cast are Daniel Craig as Lyra’s scientist father, Sam Elliot as a cowboy/aeronaut, Eva Green as a flying witch, and Christopher Lee as the First High Councilor of the Magisterium. The drama of the poet tolkien wiki will induce the audience to take interest in the play. The mysterious drama will create an engagement of the person to watch the lord of rings.  

Lyra’s world is like a 20th Century Earth as imagined by Jules Verne. It is pseudo Victorian, with lots of steam engines and giant air ships plying the skies. Everyone has something called a Daemon, which represents their souls, accompanying them in the form of an animal. Lyra’s Daemon can shape shift. There are also a kind of Gypsy people called the “Gyptians” who figure prominently in the story,

The Golden Compass is a passable adventure story, with lots of cool special effects, some suspenseful moments, and some good acting, especially from Dakota Blue Richards for whom there must be a great future in film. The Golden Compass ends with an obvious intro to a possible sequel, which will be made if the film does well at the box office.

The Golden Compass has started a kind of controversy because of the theme of the books which advances atheism. The author, Philip Pullman, in fact considers himself a kind of anti C.S. Lewis, regarding religion as evil and contradictory to human freedom. In fact God is killed in a subsequent book, which sounds like something rather strange for an atheist to advance, since the central doctrine of atheism is that God does not exist.

The whole theme of religion as evil is absent from the movie. The Magisterium of the film wants to crush human freedom and to suppress free inquiry, but for reasons that seem vague to the casual viewer. Still it is a unique artistic choice to have a faceless bureaucracy as a heavy rather than a power mad monster like Sauron or Voldermort. The Magisterium could be the Catholic Church. It could be the old Soviet Union. Choose whatever makes you comfortable. It exists to be a threat to our heroes and their world and it performs that role with frightening menace.