The Golden Compass

New Line Home Entertainment

The bottom line with the film version of The Golden Compass is that it makes more sense to those who’ve read the books. Otherwise, it’s pretty but puzzling. The special features in the two-disc “platinum series” DVD are helpful, though, and the sections on the novel and the adaptation do smooth off the rough edges by explaining all the stuff that, by necessity, was left out of the film. It’s easy to see why the visual effects received an Oscar—the real money is all onscreen—but this retains its appeal for those who understand (which the film doesn’t explain until the very end) that it’s all about free will. If you’ve already got the books, don’t miss it. If you haven’t yet read Philip Pullman’s trilogy featuring the intelligent and intuitive young Lyra Belacqua, go do that instead.