Movie: The Golden Compass
I read the trilogy over a year ago in anticipation of this film and I've been bummed that it took so long to be released. Initially I was irritated and unimpressed for the script seemed to be veering dangerously far from the book and eliminating many important scenes. For instance, the film debuts with narration explaining that this is set is an alternate universe, that in this world people wear their souls on the outside, etc. Narration like that's a warning sign for trouble, especially with such a complicated story. Fortunately, the narration was brief and hardly needed, for the story explained most everything, and once things got moving, the film was very good. The young actress who plays the lead was terrific, especially her impressive interactions with the CGI bear: excellent casting. I also liked the way they ended the film, resolving the current crisis but setting us up for the sequel (book two of the trilogy), but not including one key scene that's in the original book but would have complicated the ending by introducing too much fresh conflict at the very end. I believe they'll open the second movie with that scene, which is excellent and much better than including it in this one: otherwise people would have been frustrated ending the movie right in the middle of the story. So the bottom line is the film has as weak start but gets better and better and the second half is just terrific.