I could try to explain why there’s been a 7 month lapse in posting, or I could launch into a review of the movie I saw last night.
I read His Dark Materials trilogy after seeing the preview for what looked, judging by all the pretty colors and the relative cuteness of polar bears, to be an excellent fantasy movie of the first installment. Surely this would surpass The Chronicles of Narnia which I found, despite the relative cuteness of talking woodland creatures, to be rather costumey and short on logic. And while I had complaints with the book (mostly with POV) I thought there was enough stuff–namely talking polar bears–to warrant an excellent film. Lyra, the main character, was not particularly well rendered in the novel, but I believed a good director would be able to smooth her out–or at least make her consistent. Mystery and bad guys and witches and flying mechanical contraptions abounded. And when you didn’t have a talking polar bear on screen, there would be more than enough talking other critters.
Hopeful, and dare I say enthusiastic, my friends and I went to the 10:10 PM showing of The Golden Compass. The best way to put our experience is with a quote from one Alex Lumans who said, “I don’t need an alethiometer to know that’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.”
Another way to put it would be to say that in the great ranking of fantasy films, Eragon is no longer at the bottom.
Nor are the Star Wars prequels.
First off, the story had no pacing. In essence it felt like one really long trailer. Scene after scene of ominous foretelling and exposition. But the reason we go to movies and not trailers is so that we can, occasionally, and if it’s not too much trouble, get some development. Sections from the book that offered the best chance for this were skimmed. Characters appeared out of thin air–literally–to give crucial information that wasn’t that crucial just so that when the same character randomly showed up in the nick of time, we wouldn’t be too surprised.
Second, the script. How these actors managed to say their lines with straight faces, I’ll never understand. According to the trivia page from IMDB Tom Stoppard wrote a draft which Weitz, the director, rejected so he could adapt it himself. Idiot. I think the worst line was, “You mean to ride me?” But it was mostly bad in context.
Third, the logic. Or lack thereof. At one point in the film the giant talking polar bear claims that his armor is his “soul”. He becomes an alcoholic when the people of a certain town trick him and steal it from him. So what does he do as soon as he gets it back? Leaves it behind every chance he gets in order to carry Lyra to some random location. Right. And if Lyra is this ultra-special child for whom lots of bad guys are hunting, why is she left on her own so often? Apparently every adult character graduated from the Britney Spears House of Daycare.
Oh well, maybe the sequel will be better.