The Golden Compass is a safe adaptation

People of the book


Lyra (Dakota Blue Richards) with Iorek, the armored polar bear, in The Golden Compass
Photo courtesy of New Line Cinema

The Golden Compass is likely to be controversial, and not just due to the well-publicized boycott by the Catholic League. This adaptation of Philip Pullman’s 1995 novel, the first in his trilogy His Dark Materials, is well-acted and features gorgeous set design yet often holds back on the story’s darker elements, including the heartbreaking cliffhanger. For all its considerable achievements, writer/director Chris Weitz and his collaborators play it safe, not just with the religious aspects but with the story as a whole. The neutering of Pullman’s most pointed atheistic and anticlerical themes raises the possibility that the book’s most fervent fans may be the ones who get angry.

Full review here.