I want my two hours back.
A few months ago, I started seeing ambiguous trailers about a movie called ‘The Golden Compass’, which I soon discovered was the first book in a trilogy by Phillip Pullman named ‘His Dark Materials’, and was of some renown amongst fantasy readership, so I decided in anticipation of the movie that I would get my hands on the books and educate myself before I went to see the movie. Not having a lot of time on my hands these days where I can just sit down and read, I opted for the audiobook route and downloaded the unabridged versions of the novels from Audible.com. These books were not only exquisitely acted by the voice talent chosen for the audiobooks, but the story was absolutely sublime. It was full of all sorts of mystery and moral ambiguity, and it became more and more confusing to me how they were going to actually make a movie out of these books in today’s PC-sanitized child-centric world. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a father of two young boys and I’m glad there’s plenty of fantasy films aimed at their age range, but not everything that is produced has to be lowered to the level of a first grader. Go watch Narnia and you’ll get my point. In any case, I had a most amazing time with the novels and had such an attachment to the characters and the plot that I experienced that exquisite bitter-sweet melancholy one achieves in the last pages of a story they are loathe to let end, but happy to have been given the gift of the experience.
Hollywood butchered this story.
They not only deviated so very far from the story that it made Eragon look like a faithful portrayal, but it’s hard to get a sense of what a filmgoer would get out of this story if they hadn’t actually read the books — the plot was thin, sketchy and hard to follow, and it was difficult to see why you should care about any of the characters, as they performed intercision on the soul of every single one of these beautiful jewels and left us with a hollow husk of what was there before. I can’t go into any more detail as I don’t want to spoil the original stories for anyone who hadn’t read them, and trust me, if you’ve seen the movie, it’s worth picking up the books, because there’s plenty left out and you have NO idea what’s going on in the story, trust me. The film was pretty, I can give it that, and they certainly spent their money on talent and special effects, but the scriptwriter(s) need to be drawn and quartered.
The only positive thing that I can say about this film that took the role of the General Oblation Board for the story, is that much like the action of the “Gobblers” put Lyra on her path to learn about dust, and to discover it’s inherent nature as something greatly other from the evil it was postulated to be, this film inspired me to read the original story with all of its moral ambiguities and character complications intact, free from the sanitizing hands of PC Hollywood studios afraid of telling a story worthy of being heard, because they might offend a few parents along the way.
Don’t spend any money on this movie. Don’t even bother renting it. If you need something to entertain you beyond the book, get the audiobook and experience the story acted out in an amazingly compelling fashion.
*sigh* and I know they’re gonna try to write a sequel. I’m not sure how… but they will.
I want my two hours back.