I think this movie is as good a place to start a blog as any. This is really my first blog post ever, so I have no idea what the hell I’m doing.

Or what I’m going to talk about. I’m just going to ramble, because I can. Ramble about scifi. Yeah, because I have no one else to talk to, but you.

Last night the gf and I took in “The Golden Compass” because it was the only film that fit into our narrow window of opportunity (just down the street, enough time for a bite, wouldn’t keep us up too late). I wanted to see it anyway, so we hauled ourselves down to the Esplanade just in time for the commercials.

And then it began. People and their familiars. Gyptians. Dust. Misplaced cowboys riding Barsoom-like airships. Full-on fantasy.

I really think this film is a good reason why TPTB should NOT be adapting books into film. While the books themselves come highly recommended (I have not read them yet), the film version was a bit flat. Anytime you try to adapt a book of 300 plus pages, you’ve got to leave something out so that you can fit something else in, something that carries the story along rather than enriches the character. It makes more sense to create a miniseries so that you have more time.

SPOILER ALERT! There. I said it. Read at your own risk.

After it was over, the gf said immediately that this was clearly about the Catholic Church. CLEARLY. Without having read about any of the controversy. I knew about it, and unless I had read it, I probably wouldn’t have made the connection. Maybe just that the Magisterium people resembled bishops, sort of. Magisterium = church. (As a writer, I understand what it means to model something fictional on something in real life — not so much to make a comment about it, but so that your fictional creation has a realistic model to borrow from. Makes it a more solid creation.)

It is supposed to be heresy to talk of “dust.” Hmm. Okay. Dust comes from … other universes, and … has something to do with the way a child’s daemon changes. The Magesterium wants to remove daemons from children, while they are perfectly happy to have their own. I’m guessing something didn’t translate well from the book here.

And then there’s a prophesy about a child. (Yawn, another prophesy.) She’ll be able to read … a golden what? Compass? It magically gives answers … how? By staring into its clockworky depths? Again, something else that probably didn’t come across in translation.

There were witches (err, Gyptians), alien looking cities, strange contraptions, and Nicole Kidman. (Bleh. Never liked Nicole’s acting.) She shows up, takes the girl on a journey (Ron Carlson used to say “there are two kinds of stories: character goes on a journey, or a stranger comes to town.), girl gets into trouble, meets a big teddy bear, saves the children, escapes unscathed from epic battle.

The only thing we agreed the director did really well was the polar bears. (Excuse me, ICE bears.) You must admit, seeing a down-on-his-luck polar bear roar and run through town at the thought of getting his armor back (aww, isn’t he cute in his little helmet and back thing?) is pretty cool. And then when she suggests that she ride him (“You want to … RIDE me?”), and he suggests WITHOUT armor … MORE suggestive heresy??? And she seems to enjoy barebacking him?? Hmmmmmmmmmmm?? (Huh? That’s just me? Oh.)

So, I don’t know. I left with a kind of ho hum attitude. (Oh look, honey! Another epic battle! Zzzzzzzz.) Why must EVERY fantasy film now end with a friggin’ epic battle??

The oddest part was probably the end, as our heroes are sailing off into the sunset, planning what to do next, multiple subplots left dangling (what happened to Uncle/Dad?), I began to get the “Oh, God, how much more of this movie IS there?” feeling, and the gf suddenly had to use the loo and ran off — 30 seconds later, the film ended.

I’m a huge fan of serials, including trilogies if they’re done well, but it really has to engage me. Keep me invested in the characters. I was really missing the Star Wars movies during this film — I think that not being based on epic books, the Star Wars films are able to focus a little more on the characters and making the stories coherent. Even though there’s a lot in those movies (especially the later ones), it feels like we’re given time to absorb the world around us and admire it. Didn’t get that feeling in The Golden Compass.

Not bad for a first post, eh? Drop me a note if you ever come across this.

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