Being woefully ignorant of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, I'm not going to hazard a guess as to what this early-in-the-game New Line sizzle reel bodes for The Golden Compass. Is it as impressive as the early peeks at Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings? Of course not. Is it attempting that kind of epic sweep? It seems like it. Do I care to see it?
Yeah. Mostly because they've assembled a very impressive cast (including Daniel Craig, Tom Courtenay, Eva Green, Sam Elliott and Nicole Kidman). It's also got a badass polar bear rampaging through what appears to be London, which is the one element that Brief Encounter always lacked (what is it about unrequited love, Noel Coward and angry animals that go so well together?). Aside from that, I like what director-screenwriter Chris Weitz has to say about the film: "It's about things that matter: the human spirit, loyalty, kindness and free will." He left out the Cleveland Indians winning their first World Series in almost sixty years, but, all told, he's got his priorities fairly straight.
I think I'll read The Golden Compass before seeing this movie, but only because I've heard the books are surprisingly sophisticated for young adult lit. If they're on the level of, say, Robert Cormier, then cool. But if they're Harry Potter retreads, then motherfuckers been lyin' to me.