Let me first start off this review by saying I have NOT read the His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman. I do not have any desire to read them, therefore this review is strictly focusing on the movie. I have no comparison to base the storyline on, therefore my thoughts and judgments about the plot and characters come only from the movie. I am not commenting about any religious themes or anti religious themes found in this movie.
It seems that after the success of LOTR and Narnia being made in movies, everyone is rushing out to get beloved children's stories being made into movies. I've seen ads for Inkheart, Spiderwick Chronicles, American Girl, etc. So I checked out this movie from the library to see how it fared with with previous children's epics.
How in the world did this movie win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects? I mean seriously, everything about this movie looked fake. The polar bears looked fake and their speaking was not in sync with their mouths moving (yes I know polar bears don't really speak so we don't know how their mouths really would move). The animals just did not look real, especially Mrs. Coulter's monkey. Could they have picked a more non monkey like color? Honestly I was just not impressed at all with the SFX. After seeing LOTR or even Spiderman, this movie falls very short.
Another thing that was rather confusing was the use of the term dæmon. It's pronounced like demon but it's unrelated. I only knew of the spelling because I had turned the subtitles on during the DVD. To someone who doesn't do this, would have gotten very confused. I also didn't really like Lyra. She doesn't come off as cute or very brave. More sneaky like. Definitely not one of my favorite characters. The story ended very abruptly. I know that this is the first book in a trilogy but it really leaves you not even hanging, more like "Wait, what just happened?" One minute everyone's fighting, next thing you know we see a flying ship.
It is cool to see Eva Green and Daniel Craig again after Casino Royale although they don't have any scenes together. Also interesting is Hattie Morahan from the most recent Sense and Sensibility remake, makes a quick cameo in the movie. But otherwise, I felt this movie to be a dud. I'm sorry but the moviemaking alone just falls short of the great recent epics. I don't even feel it worthy of a DVD rental.