I have never read any of Philip Pullman’s books, but apparently these Fantasy books have a very anti-religious message at its core and the film has been criticised for watering this message down quite a notch. No idea how much this does indeed come across in the books, but there are still more than enough anti-religious and anti-authoritarian stances in this production. In actual fact if there is one thing this film can be accused of is that this is way too preachy. I got no problem with the overall message, but anytime something gets explained (and there are lots of those situations around!) we are confronted with over the top, heavy duty, let’s-make-sure-even-the-biggest-dunce-in-the-theatre-understands-this symbolism. This is not an allegory, but a frigging preachy sermon that just won’t stop. If the books equally hit you over the head with those more than obvious messages, then I doubt I’d ever feel the need to read them.
Truth be told: I am probably not the right person to judge this kind of production. Twee Fantasy epics with annoying kids in a CGI environment aren’t exactly my favourite genre, and I doubt that I’d have ever given The Golden Compass a chance if it wasn’t for the fact that Christopher Lee was in it.
Mr Lee’s part is, however, minute. He appears for just about a minute or two spouting some threatening plan to rid the world of children’s independent spirits or some such and then is never seen again. What did surprise me was, however, that Hammer star Edward De Souza could also be seen in the same scene, alas without any dialogue whatsoever and a look that seems to ask where his next drink could be found.
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