The Golden Compass (2007) - New Line 2-Disc Platinum Series [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Adventure / Family / Fantasy
New Line || PG13 - 113 minutes - $39.98 || April 29, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-04-20


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Chris Weitz
Writer(s): Philip Pullman (novel "Northern Lights"); Chris Weitz (screenplay)
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Sam Elliott, Eva Green, Ian McKellen, Ian McShane, Freddie Highmore, Kathy Bates, Kristin Scott Thomas, Daniel Craig, Dakota Blue Richards


Theatrical Release Date: December 7, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:

    Disc 1:
  • Enhanced Visual Commentary (Blu-Ray Exclusive)
  • Writer/Director Commentary


  • Disc 2:
  • 11 "Making-of" Featurettes
  • Theatrical and Teaser Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (7.1 DTS-HD)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

(Synopsis) In a marvelous parallel world where witches soar the skies and Ice Bears rule the frozen North, one special girl is destined to hold the date of the universe in her hands. When Lyra Belacqua becomes the keeper of the Golden Compass, only she has the ability to read its portent messages and prevent her world - and all others - from slipping into an evil darkness.

The movie The Golden Compass is based upon the book “Northern Lights” ("The Golden Compass" in the US) which itself is part of a trilogy of books by Phillip Pullman called “His Dark Materials”. Anyone who is a fan of the books knows that some of the questionable religious material was either removed or heavily altered and watered down. While unfortunate for fans, as someone who has yet to read any of the books I did not notice any major issues with these changes in regards to the film itself. The film seems to be aimed at young children but I found it very hard to follow myself, which again is probably because I have not read the book.

The film is about a young girl named Lyra who goes on an adventure to rescue the young children of Oxford who have been kidnapped by the group referred to as "The Gobblers". Along the way she will meet a huge cast of characters including an Ice Bear named Iorek Byrnison (Ian McKellen), a aeronaut named Lee Scoresby (Sam Elliot), and of course the apparent villain in the movie Mrs. Coulter (Nicole Kidman). It’s incredibly tough to even write a small synopsis of the film since there is a so much stuff going on in its very short run time of 113 minutes that I would have paragraph after paragraph about just the general plot.

In this parallel world every human has a small creature called a daemon. For young children the daemon can shape shift into an animal or insect depending on the mood or need of the human. As an adult, the daemon settles itself into one form. This is very neat concept and works out quite well in the film. At one point the daemon can be a cat walking along the house and as it slips and begins to fall to the ground it quickly turns into a bat or flying insect to save itself from harm. The effects are amazing in this movie and I can see why it won an Academy Award for the achievement in visual effects.

When this was originally released New Line was hoping to make this movie part of a trilogy of films much like what they did with Lord of the Rings (and Warner has done with all the Harry Potter films), with the other two books being adapted into films. Unfortunately for New Line the budget for the film was $180 Million and the US box office ended at roughly $70 million. The film went on to make $369 million in total worldwide. Sadly New Line sold the overseas rights to the film to help with the budget of the film so very little of that extra $300 million went back. This movie essentially killed New Line and more recently was merged into Warner Brothers. The problem with this is that because the movie was expecting to get the other two stories adapted into film, it ends on a rather odd note with several scenes being filmed and saved for the second film which may or may not ever happen now.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

All special features are presented in 1080p HD. The Blu-ray version also includes an absolutely gorgeous shiny gold slip cover.

Disc 1 (50GB disc)

Enhanced Visual Commentary (HD) - A very interesting commentary with director Chris Weitz that takes us through the process of making the film and various ideas used in the film. The Enhanced version will also include behind the scenes shots of creating some of the CGI daemons, as well as camera angles and green screen scenes. I was very impressed with how he described making a certain fight scene with Iorek through the use of a lipstick camera. Some of the visual aides are borrowed directly from the documentaries on Disc 2. This is a great commentary and worth a listen (or watch!) for anyone that enjoyed the movie. (At the time of writing I am not sure if this is playable on Profile 1.0 players due to the lack of PiP on 1.0 players. I will update this review as soon as I find out for sure as I have a PS3 that is Profile 2.0).

Commentary - This is the same as the visual commentary just without the behind the scenes and visual aids.

Disc 2 (25GB disc)

The Novel (19:07) - A glimpse at novel itself and how the rights for the film were purchased and adapted into a film.
The Adaption (16:11) - This one goes into more details on how the book was adapted into the film.
Finding Lyra Belacqua (15:08) - Here we get Dakota Blue Richards audition tape and a look at the casting of her in the film.
Daemons (19:56) - The design and creation of all the Daemons used in the film, CGI and puppetry.
The Alethiometer (14:57) - The creation and design of Lyra's alethiometer. It’s amazing the detail that was put into this.
Production Design (26:03) - One of the better documentaries going into great detail about the design and creation of many of the items and locations.
Costumes (11:49) - A look at the design of all the costumes in the film including sketches.
Oxford (7:32) - This documentary goes into great detail about Oxford, the city of London and why this setting was used in the film.
Armoured Bears (17:43) - A look at how they made the Armoured Bear fight scene; one of the more interesting features.
Music (11:50) - A look at the making of the instrumental music.
The Launch (7:58) - A small look at the launch of the film at the Cannes film festival.
Trailers - We are presented with the Teaser Trailer #1 and #2 and well as the final trailer

Also included are various art and poster galleries featuring costumes, vehicles, Ice Bear etc.

All together we get roughly 2 and a half hours worth of special features in HD. While all are very interesting, many of them tend to discuss the same topic of a previous featurette. I strongly recommend watching the visual commentary as it includes snippets of most of these in it.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The movie is presented in 2.35:1 widescreen encoded in 1080p/VC-1 on a 50GB disc. The picture quality is simply amazing. No grain to be seen and colors and very vibrant. The Ice Bears look spectacular and it appears every piece of hair on them is visible including Iorek who has quite a few scars clearly visible and a small notch taken out of ear. The armor they wear looks very real and textured. I can't even point out a bad scene in this film; everything looks very sharp and clear. This film could be considered demo material by some. ****½ / *****

New Line continues to offer 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio for their releases. Whenever Lyra opens up her alethiometer, my room was filled with noise and it sounded spectacular. Without ruining certain plots of the film, there are several fight scenes, one of is which with the Ice Bear Iorek which sounds amazing. This track will not disappoint by any means. ****¼ / *****



.::OVERALL::.

It’s a shame The Golden Compass did not do better at the box office as it truly is a great movie. Due to the poor box office and the collapse of New Line is seems that the second and third film may never be made. Even so, I highly recommend seeing this movie as it is a great story and the effects are spectacular.