The holiday season always bring out a plethora of new movies. Earlier this week, I took the kids out to see The Golden Compass starring Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig. The movie is based on the book by Philip Pullman.
I must admit that I did a bit of research before taking the kids to see this film. I had received information from various people prior to the movies release that it denounced the existence of God. Not being one to believe everything that I hear, I checked it out a bit further. After reviewing some articles on the matter, it seemed that the hype regarding the movies 'anti-Catholic' theme was just that -- hype.
The next hurdle was determine exactly why this movie garnered a PG-13 rating. I am always cautious about taking kids to these kinds of films without checking the nature of the ratings out beforehand, lest we have another Transformers incident -- that discussion regarding pleasuring oneself between the boy and his parents caught us off guard when we rented the film! For those who aren't aware of it, you can get more information on the reasons for specific movie ratings on imdb. The PG-13 rating on the Golden Compass was due fantasy violence much akin to that in the Harry Potter series. Since my kids had both weathered these movies without incident, I thought we'd give The Golden Compass a go.
You know, I started to write a synopsis of the plot, but it just didn't sound as good as this one. Beware, there are some spoilers in this synopsis!
So, what did I think of this movie? I enjoyed it for the most part. It was a bit confusing here and there -- so many things to understand, e.g., dust particles, daemons, gobblers, etc. It probably would have helped to have read or listened to the book. Things made a bit more sense as the movie went on. I loved that fact that the main character is a girl. Lyra is spunky, smart and confident. It was a welcome reprieve. The scenery was lush and vivid. The computer animated characters were incredibly life like.
Okay, so what about the scare factor? I must say that the polar bears are VERY scary -- lots of growling and snarling! I think the recommendation that some scenes may be too intense for young and very sensitive children is warranted. There are lots of fight scenes that include death, which again might be too much for young and sensitive children. If your child has seen the most recent Harry Potter film without any concerns, they will likely handle the fight scenes and violence in this movie without incident.
Both of my kids enjoyed the film, although I'm not sure how much of it my daughter really understood. Due to the complexities of the story line, I wouldn't suggest the film for kids under the age of nine. For those who are unaware, this movie is part of a trilogy, so we were left hanging at the end wondering Lyra's fate. My son so enjoyed the tale, that he is planning to check out the next book in the series from the library.
As far as all that religious controversy, I found nothing in the film that came even remotely close to the topic of religion. I found the movie to more akin to George Orwell's 1984, i.e., the Magisterium representing "Big Brother" trying to rid the world of free thinking. I'm sure some could try to relate that to the whole religious argument, but that seems really far fetched to me. I saw the theme as a way to discuss the importance of free thinking and the positive traits that Lyra and the other characters demonstrated.
In summary, my kids and I enjoyed the film. I wouldn't say rush right out and see it, but it may be worth catching at a matinee. If your kids handled the violence in the last Harry Potter film, your kids can likely handle the images in this film. The dialog and concepts may be difficult for younger kids to follow. My overall grade: B.
Did you see the film? What did you think of it? Share your thoughts and opinions for others who are considering catching this flick!