I'm going to start this review out by asking, "What the heck is the big deal about this movie? and Why are churches so upset?"
The movie is based on the first book in a series by Phillip Pullman and this movie actually only covers part of the first book in a 3 book series. I have not yet read the books (notice i said YET), but understand there are some anti-religion statements, but they mainly deal with the power of organized religions in the political fields, not by saying religion is bad.
I guess when you start to warn people that when an organized religion becomes so powerful that it begins to invade every aspect of your personal life and you no longer have freewill or choice, then the said religions would say, "Oops they found out that we want total control." So at this point they organized religion would say, "Ve must put a stop to this movie."
But hey, I digress.
As a movie "The Golden Compass" is a very nice movie for the family.
Basically the story is about an alternate reality on an alternate Earth. The premise is that there are many universes and many Earths. One such parallel Earth a person's soul is not within the body but instead they soul lives in the form of an animal called a daemon, (for you religious zealots this is not demon, many people equate the word ``daemon'' with the word ``demon,'' implying some kind of Satanic connection. This is an egregious misunderstanding. ``Daemon'' is actually a much older form of ``demon''; daemons have no particular bias towards good or evil, but rather serve to help define a person's character or personality. The ancient Greeks' concept of a ``personal daemon'' was similar to the modern concept of a ``guardian angel'' --- ``eudaemonia'' is the state of being helped or protected by a kindly spirit.)
A child's daemon has the power to shapeshift until the child becomes of age the the daemon takes on a permanent shape. The daemon is linked to the person via "Dust." In my opinion and from others I have spoken with this "Dust" can be "Original Sin." But to draw the full conclusion on this I will be reading the book later on and checking out this theory.
Lord Asriel has brought back a photograph of a person and their daemon channeling dust from an alternate Earth, Lord Asriel wants to investigate this phenomenon further and gets funding from the university to seek out and explore the alternate Earths. A Young girl, Lyra, who we later learn is the daughter of Lord Asrial and Marisa Coulter, becomes the recipient of the golden compass to take to Asrial. The golden compass is a truthteller but only a select few can read the compass, Lyra is one of those few.
Marisa Coulter, working for the Magisterium, arranges for the kidnapping of orphan children in a government/religious experiment to seperate the children from their daemon/soul thus keeping them safe from dust. This is killing the children. Lyra's friend is kidnapped and she sets out to rescue him.
Alon the way she recruits the Gyptians (similar to Gypsies), A western type gunslinger, Lee Scoresby and an armored Polar bear, Iorek Blyrnison. They must find the children and rescue them.
As a side here, Sam Elliott plays Lee Scoresby and, in my opinion, is the most intriguing and fun character in the film. But I should warn you I'm a huge Sam Elliott fan.
The movie is full of action and adventure with beautiful cinematography as well as great special effects. Take the kids out to a great movie.
Nicole Kidman ... Marisa Coulter
Daniel Craig ... Lord Asriel
Dakota Blue Richards ... Lyra Belacqua
Ben Walker ... Roger
Freddie Highmore ... Pantalaimon (voice)
Ian McKellen ... Iorek Byrnison (voice)
Eva Green ... Serafina Pekkala
Jim Carter ... John Faa
Tom Courtenay ... Farder Coram
Ian McShane ... Ragnar Sturlusson (voice)
Sam Elliott ... Lee Scoresby
Christopher Lee ... First High Councilor
Kristin Scott Thomas ... Stelmaria (voice)
Edward de Souza ... Second High Councilor
Kathy Bates ... Hester (voice)
Simon McBurney ... Fra Pavel