Define "a Life"...

... still searching for a clear definition of that thing people keep telling me I need to get...

Location: Springfield, PA

Friday, July 04, 2008

How Not To Begin A Fantasy Film Franchise

I just watched The Golden Compass. I'm sort of glad that I didn't see this in the theaters, as I'd intended to. It's a sumptuous film, visually, and seeing it on a big screen might have blunted my opinion of it. On the little 14" screen on which I watched it, none of that grandeur was able to impress, and there's little else in the film capable of making much of an impression in any venue of presentation.

I've read Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy (listened to, actually, in the very good unabridged readings), and Chris Weitz's film of this first book captures none of the magic in Pullman's writing. Yes, the film has a lot of rich visuals, but it fails to ever really create a genuine sense of place. Likewise with characters; Golden Compass is a journey story, and much of its fun is rooted in the characters Lyra meets, and sometimes allies with, along the way. Although usually well cast, those characters are given no chance to distinguish themselves in this largely expository film.

In one of the odder adaptation choices I've ever seen, Weitz opts to end his movie short of the end of the book. The effect is that the film sort of sputters quickly to a close without much closure, and screams "next installment in the works" as you're pondering whether you'd devote the time to that next installment.


Blogger Sharon GR said...

I listened to the books too. The production of all three truly was impressive. I really enjoyed the first book, not so much the second but I held on for the third- and sincerely wished I hadn't. I was furious that I wasted all that time for such a pathetic ending.

I heard the same review of the movie- wasted time, pathetic ending- so I never saw it. I admit, however, I was curious to see how they put some of the great characters, such as the bear kings and the witches, onscreen. I hoped it would at least retain the magical feeling that the first book had. I'm sorry it didn't.

4:12 PM  

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