Sunday, January 13, 2008

Never Act with Children or Animals

This evening, we saw "The Golden Compass" as it continued its slip from the nice movie houses into the rattier ones (we watched it at Mann Culver Plaza, which was built in the '90's but has somehow managed to age 30 years during its lifetime -- that big stain in the middle of the screen certainly abetted our cinematic experience). The movie is filled with beautiful images, and the story keeps one's interest; but the flick is a testament to the importance of a good lead. The little girl who plays the the heroine, Lyra, is simply not emotionally engaging. By all rights, she should be upstaging all the adults around her; but with such engaging actors as Sam Shepard, Daniel Craig, and Nicole Kidman playing circles around her, she simply cannot compete. When the movie studio has paid a king's ransom to put onto the screen things you've never seen before, we need a human presence to keep us anchored -- and the girl simply wasn't up to the task. Indeed, the polar bear warrior (with the voice of Ian McKellen)who becomes Lyra's bodyguard is far more sympathetic then Lyra herself. Hell, I'd be happy if they dropped Lyra from future movies and just had the bear as the hero.

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