The Golden Compass

Posted on December 4, 2007 at 11:38 am

B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for sequences of fantasy violence.
Profanity: None
Alcohol/ Drugs: None
Violence/ Scariness: Children and adults in peril, shooting, arrows, explosions, battle scenes, badly injured child (not graphic), some disturbing themes
Diversity Issues: Diverse characters
Date Released to Theaters: December 5, 2007

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Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Blue Richards) is disobedient, obstinate, crafty, and skeptical. In other words, she challenges authority, she is is a creative thinker, and she is in the grand tradition of the heroes of classic adventure stories. And this is a grand adventure indeed, sweeping, imaginative, epic, thrilling.
Lyra lives in an alternate world that looks like 19th century Oxford. She is an orphan essentially being raised through the benign neglect of a group of academics, with occasional visits from her uncle, Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig), an explorer-scientist. She runs wild much of the time, playing with the servant’s children rather than sitting in classrooms. In her world, “souls walk beside our bodies” in the form of “daemons,” animal spirits that are invisibly connected to their humans. The daemons of children shift from one species to another as the circumstances inspire — or require. But daemons assume one form at puberty and retain it.
Lord Asriel arrives with news of “dust,” a mystical force he has been studying at the top of the world. There are mysterious rumors of children being snatched up and taken away. An imposing and mysterious woman named Mrs. Coulter invites Lyra to stay with her. And one of the scholars gives Lyra an important gift called an althiometer, a kind of compass with mysterious symbols that when read correctly — or rather, when read by the person who knows how to use it — tells the truth. All of these developments come together as Lyra goes on a journey in search of her captured friend, a journey that requires the assistance of a cowboy (gravel-voiced Sam Elliott), a witch (Eva Green), and an armored bear (voice of Ian McKellan).

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