As a fan of the book, I will do this review in the fashion I typically do my book-to-film reviews in. I will review it as both a film and an adaptation.

First I guess I should start with the obvious: the controversy. Again, as a fan of the book, I see little reason for controversy. In movie format, there shouldn’t be any whatsoever. There was no mention of ‘the church’ or even ‘original sin’ (and if you’ve read the books, you know how important that is). While on the subject, I have to say I’m quite impressed with the way they handled the religious stuff. They always talked around it, never quite saying it, but giving a good enough reason as to why things were the way they were. Anyway, on to the reviews.

As a movie, it worked pretty well. The second half of the movie was a bit fast-paced, and after the point in Trollesund when Iorek joins the team, it’s just bam, bam, bam with the story points without ever really getting into any character depth or growth. As for the actors, they really should be billing Dakota Blue Richards (Lyra) first instead of Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig (who is barely in the movie). She really steals the show. If I were to pretend I didn’t know any better as to what happens in the story, I would say it ended pretty well with a cliffhanger ending, and I couldn’t wait to see the next.

However, I do know better, so here we go with the book-to-film review. If you’ve not read the book, the following are SPOILERS:

The first half of the movie is great. Right up until Iorek gets his armor back, I would have to say the movie had been a great adaptation. Nearly flawless, really. Then Iorek joins the team and the story moves on… out of order. In the book they head to Bolvangar and then to Svalbard. In the movie, they’re on their way to Svalbard first when Lyra sneaks off with Iorek to find this ‘ghost’ that her alethiometer (golden compass) is telling her about. If you’ve read the book, you should know what happens next… except for the fact that they replaced the original boy with Billy Costa instead. Now, I can understand this. They did it to shorten the character list (there were a ton of them already). But immediately after this scene, upon their return to camp, they’re attacked by the Samoyeds and Lyra is taken to Svalbard… yes, Svalbard, not Bolvangar, which doesn’t make much sense… especially since Svalbard was shown as an island earlier in the movie, and they get there by sled.

Well, once Lyra is at Svalbard, there is no prison sequence and no mention of Lord Asriel, but Lyra immediately makes her plan to trick the king (who is named Ragnar instead of Iofur, to avoid confusion with Iorek). This takes a couple minutes and everybody is ready for the big fight. The fight actually happens a lot like in the book, amazingly enough. The fight ends, Iorek becomes king… then immediately leaves to run Lyra to Bolvangar, where she crosses the ice bridge alone (it happens here instead of at the part where they head for Asriel). The Bolvangar sequence is a lot shorter, too. It’s basically meeting Roger, sneaking to an empty room, overhearing information, being caught, being put in the guillotine machine (which is pretty hardcore), being saved, learning about her parents, escaping, and setting the place on fire. After that is the big fight between the Witches, the Gyptians, and the Tartars (and Iorek). After all that good stuff is done, Lyra meets up with Lee Scoresbee again and sets off into the Northern Lights to find Lord Asriel in Lee’s airship with Roger, Iorek, and Serafina. The end.

No, I’m serious. That’s where the movie ends. The last three chapters are gone, like a lot of other early reviewers have mentioned. I felt cheated, almost. It felt like I just watched a nearly incomplete movie. As for other differences, Lord Asriel is kidnapped by the Tartars and sets up his own workplace under THEIR capture instead of at Svalbard. The Witches are merely a passing mention. Serafina is introduced out of nowhere. There is no Consul or finding of the branch. There’s really no mention of any other Witches or inner struggle between different Witch tribes. There’s also no mention of the ‘you can’t trick a bear unless they act human’ thing, which takes away a lot of the meaning behind Iorek’s win against the king. However, even with these changes, I can see reasoning behind it in the world of adaptation. I can see why they switched Bolvangar and Svalbard, even though you can tell they originally planned to do it in the correct order (Lyra even mentions what occurred at Bolvangar while in Svalbard, even though, in the movie, she hadn't been there yet... and some of the filming was messed up, like the sled trip to an island, or the ice bridge to Bolvangar). I can see why they did the intercission to Billy Costa instead. But that’s about it. They filmed over 200 million dollars worth, and they cut out one of the largest chunks of that change from the movie.


So, as a movie, it was pretty good. As an adaptation, it started great, then kinda went downhill. The acting from Dakota Blue Richards and Nicole Kidman was great. They couldn’t have found a better Lyra. The visual effects were beyond stunning. The Armored Bears were amazing to watch. However, the last half was too speedy, and the ending left something more to be wanted. There could have been a bit more character development, and the movie could have been a tad longer to incorporate some of this stuff. So, my final ratings are as follows:

As a movie… A Keanu ‘Whoa’.
As an adaptation… Stop Saying Okay! Okay.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.