Top critical review
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on 14 February 2016
I haven't read the Pullman books yet, so I came to this film with few expectations or preconceived ideas. As a fantasy film, it's beautifully produced, and I enjoyed spotting the Oxford locations I've been to. Story-wise, it's a bit disappointing. There is so much crammed in without a chance to really develop the characters or even give a strong sense of the issues at play. It's a great adventure story but it could have been so much more. The most disappointing thing is the lack of a real ending - especially given that there's no sequel coming. I felt as though things were really only just beginning when the film ended. As for this being the 'extended' edition, the marketing people obviously have a different definition to the one I'm familiar with. The film was the same length as the regular version. Yes, there's a second disk with extras, but the film itself isn't extended in any way whatsoever. The other thing that annoys me with the production is that I needed to keep the remote in my hand to adjust the volume - music and fight scenes were so much louder than dialogue to such an extent that my volume ranged from 7 to 20. To my mind that's poor mixing and editing.
I loved Nicole Kidman as Mrs Coulter - suitably cold and menacing; Jim Carter as John Faa; and of course Ian McKellan as the voice of Iorek the bear. It's obvious that this was Dakota Blue Richard's first film and at times her clichéd performance was annoying, but other times she showed the potential that fuelled her later performance in The Secret of Moonacre.
I didn't hate this film and I've no doubt I'll watch it again at some point, but I don't think it'll be on my 'watch at least once a year' list.