The mystery is not only lost, it is purposely banished by the blundering slate of exposition which begins with the prologue and carrys on through the film's duration. The story is the same: it follows the exploits of a young orphan girl, Lyra, who lives among scholars at Oxford's Jordan College, in a world parallel to our own, in which every human is joined to a physical manifestation of their soul (daemon). The characters are given no time to breathe or grow and concepts such as the daemons, Dust and the magesterium are explained to you via convoluted exposition rather than simply shown to you. As far as entertainment goes, the whole film is actually pretty high up the scale; captivating and engrossing the audience throughout, who barely have time to catch a breath. That may still be the case if the bulk of early reviews are to be believed (but see Ebert's all-out glowing review.) Admittedly, the movie probably works better if you have read the first book (I had), but those readers are precisely the people who would likely complain the most.
I stayed through all the credits, which seemed to last for almost as long as the movie, and good gracious, what a lot of people worked on this! It's expensive all right, but the money is all on the screen. (Had there not been the need for her to be so pleonastic, the audience might even have actually cared about her). Oddly, despite nearly being a disaster, the film could have gone the other way - some of it teeters on perfection even. I think if people just relax and go with it they will find themselves enjoying it immensely. She carries the entire movie very well and it will be great to see her return in the future films as I know how much dramatic stuff she will have to do. What a poignant, mysterious title for a book. Somehow they expect people to go to a film like TGC for the action sequences and great CG. Also changing certain characters and changing certain facts just infuriated me all the more! But the ultimate problem with the movie is the fact it is way too rushed.
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