The Golden Compass

Rated 2.0

In a parallel universe where, among other things, people’s souls walk beside them as “daemons” in animal form, the oppressive “Magisterium” seeks to rule the cosmos—and to persecute a young girl (Dakota Blue Richards) who doesn’t know her own powers. Fans of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy may find writer-director Chris Weitz’s film a good set of illustrations for the book, but as a stand-alone film for the uninitiated it’s a gaudy dud, weighted down by expository dialogue, disjointed pacing, and the fact that all the characters seem to be refugees from some Ministry of Silly Names. A good cast (Nicole Kidman, Sam Elliott, Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Christopher Lee) huffs and puffs Weitz’s magniloquent lines, while young Richards—a nice girl, no doubt—is too bland to carry so much movie.