Tuesday, October 9, 2007

What is this 'Mommie Dearest' BS?, Or: Why is Tom Skerritt Not in This Film?

Well, the Golden Compass full trailer is finally out. I realize this isn't really fashion related (though I don't have any huge issues with the costuming...though I do think it looks way too polished/Vogue spread-esque, and this outfit looks like Lyra bought it at Limited Too. She does not wear hot pink, okay? It probably does not even exist.) but I feel the need to discuss it in minutiae as I really like the His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman a lot, and am very anxious to see how such a far-reaching, complex, and yes, feminist YA fantasy novel will be adapted (for hundreds of millions of dollars, no less) for a market in which the film The Game Plan is currently number one.

(That's right, that movie starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson where he is a tough football player but has to deal with the frilliest and silliest of all things, a little girl! There's a bulldog wearing a tiara! [I actually just randomly thought I would check out which movie was number one right now to point out how retarded everything is, but, like, I never expected to be as perfect a point-maker as this movie. I guess people felt a bit of a whole inside when The Pacifier left theaters.])

First of all, the focus on the "golden compass" itself is insane. In the book, it's never even referred to as a "golden compass." In fact, I think they just randomly picked that name because the real, British title "The Northern Lights" was too obscure or something for American audiences. It's not like it's actually a compass- in the book, it's called an alethiometer, and even though there is a scramble to get it, it's not like the focus is just on the damn compass like it is on the ring in Lord of the Rings, a crappy franchise they seem intent on ripping off. The alethiometer is an actual object and all, but its significance is largely symbolic, and the book doesn't feature every character screaming, "Give me the golden compass! WHERE IS THE GOLDEN COMPASS???"
Secondly, the CGI daemons are So. Bad. They just seem like regular wacky-talkin', wisecrackin' Disney-esque sidekicks, besides looking hella fake. If I personally had to do it, I would have had real animals and had the dialogue just be heard, not mouthed by the creatures. I mean, it's not like deamons are talking animals, and their connection to their humans is clearly supposed to be mental/psychological. The whole look of the film looks very CGI, and all the scenes look so austere and clean and computerized- I personally always imagined Lyra's world to be jumbled and Medieval looking and filled with old-fashioned looking brass machines. Plus Mrs. Coulter's golden monkey looks so messed up it probably wandered off the set of Gremlins.

Lastly, why the hell is the whole focus on how evil Mrs. Coulter is, and Lyra rejecting her? Her father, (Lord Asriel, in case you didn't know) is also hella evil and weird, but the entire plot just seems focused on her, perhaps because she is played by the movie's biggest star, the always bland Nicole Kidman. I can't believe it shows a clip of Lya screaming, "You're not my mother!" or whatevs like that is what the movie is about. Clearly the evil in these books stems from a large, religious (mostly male) authority, and this film makes it look like there is mostly one evil character, and of course she is some ice queen-type, even though the literary Mrs. Coulter is pretty complex. The book is about Lyra, but she barely even seems to be part of the movie. (Which sucks, because young, female, non-sexualized heroines are few and far between.)

In conclusion, I can just imagine this series glossing over all the controversial, anti-religious and even gay undertones in the books, and just making it some typical overblown fantasy. Is Hollywood really going to stay true to a core theme that rejects both original sin and the Garden of Eden myth? Plus, I have and will always imagine Lee Scoresby played by Tom Skerritt and Tom Skerritt only.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, what the fuck is with the golden monkey daemon? He looks hella diseased. Kind of like splinter from the ninja turtles movies with patches of hair missing.

Also, I feel like all the female daemons have that same default voice that gives directions on those GPS machines in fancy cars.

This movie looks TERRIBLE!

Anonymous said...

Did you watch the extended trailer?

Ugh. It's even worse!

One of the Jordan professors says to Lord Asriel, "This is heresy!" and Asriel responds, "It's the TRUTH!"

So much for the high politics and subtlety that characterized the relationships of adults in the book.

Iorek Byrnison makes me want to barf.

Simone said...

I hate that this movie was made, because I know that inevitably i'll see it, and it will change the way i've envisioned everything from the books in my head. FUCK.

I haven't watched any of the previews yet. i'm too grossed out. but i probably will sometime soon... sigh.

Anonymous said...

love the trailer...btw, i havent read the trilogy, but im really interested with the concept of a having a daemon !!!!!

December, where are you:)

M said...

Well, anonymous who posted at 7:32, i urge you highly to read the actual books before seeing the movie, because it doesn't appear like it gives the book series it's due, at all. the whole human/daemon bond is very deep and complex, and i'm not sure talking CGI animals are going to work.

dear dan, do you think after that the Jordan professor yells "You can't handle the truth!" and then Lord Asriel picks up a machine gun and kills him and then runs away with a sexy lady? I do.

Betsy said...

A few years too late, but... Actually, I thought the guy who played Lee Scorsby was the film's only saving grace besides the one who played Lyra. :) And I can't remember his name off the top of my head. Shame on me as he is one of my favorite older actors. I want to say Sam Shepard but I am sure that isn't right...
other than that I completely agree with you on all counts!

Mary said...

Well, I never actually saw the movie, so I'm willing to say that Lee Scoreby was well-cast. I just saw Tom Skerrit in my head, you know?

Anonymous said...

In the books, the daemons do speak. Remember Will's initial shock when he hears Pan talk in the Subtle Knife? Also, Northern Lights doesn't get into the nuance, really, of Mrs. Coulter. That doesn't come until later. I wasn't that perturbed really by this movie. I thought it was a pretty good adaptation, as big budget adaptations go. Still kept the spunkiness and stubborness of Lyra--she was still the unabashed heroine...petulant and bright.

Mary said...

I think Will could hear Pan speak because he could non-verbally communicate with Lyra, but I don't think the average person could hear someone else's daemon- wouldn't that kind of ruin the whole concept of daemons?

I didn't see this movie, though, so I was really just hating on the preview. Even if it was faithful to the book, the CGI alone ruins the aesthetics for me.