The Golden Compass, the long awaited cinematic adaptation of Philip Pullman's well-respected novel, is an adequate but not inspired translation of the source material. Writer/director Chris Weitz (one of the American Pie guys) brings a style that is more obligatory than deft. Constrained by a rushed feel and too little character development, this movie never seems to flow quite right. Passages of dense exposition are interspersed with impressively staged action/adventure sequences but the experience as a whole is less than what movies like The Lord of the Rings have shown us that fantasy adaptations can provide. One key missing element: the world in which this story takes place never feels unique. We aren't drawn into it the way we were with Middle Earth or Hogwarts. In fact, with all the airships flying around, there are times when it feels like an extension of Stardust.
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