golden compass

F/X Oscar Nominations

SCI FI Wire has a list of the flicks nominated for a best F/X Oscar, and I just cannot help but think this was not the best year for SF movies.

Out of the Running

I have to be up front and say that these these films are out of the running because I either have not seen them or do not plan to see them.

  • The Bourne Ultimatum

I liked the first one didn't like the second one,this one is on my Netflix list.

  • I Am Legend

I have a general rule that I will not see in the theater any film starring Will Smith that is based on a book that I like. Even though I like Will Smith, very few good things come from this combination. I may rent it.

  • 300

I liked the comic and have been told that this film will disappoint me more than Doom did, so on advice of friends, I have not seen this one either.

So I am limiting my discussion to the films I have actually seen.

51kAGAPJL0L._SL210_Evan Almighty

Good film, but the F/X were anything but spectacular. They are like the film itself, worthy of cable television, but not up to the standard I expect in a feature film. This is the "man gets hit in groin by football" nomination, except it wasn't a football it was a dog.

The only major effect I can remember is at the end of the film and it brought the story to a proper climax, but is failed to wow me. It felt like something I had seen before, and to me, that is a not Oscar worthy.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

61VqjwC27LL._SL210_The F/X in this flick were extraordinary, but again, they did not wow me. I may have been distracted by Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom, and that might have caused me to miss things that I ordinarily might not have.

The biggest thing that this movie has against it in the race for the best effects is that I saw them all in the last two Pirates movies. They were all cutting edge the last time I saw them, but not in this film. I am not sure why it was nominated other than its popularity. That said. I think it deserves the prize more than Evan Almighty.

poster_01 The Golden Compass

This was probably the best fantasy film of the year, and it has some of the best special effects I have seen in a long time. The artistic style they chose for the film worked well and stayed consistent throughout the film, but at no point did I feel they were real.

The Golden Compass felt more like animated film than a live action film. This is the films only real flaw, and the only thing that keeps me from saying it should be the winner. I am if it were not for the successful integration of the actors into this film I would have to object to it being on the list.

Transformers

51xbz6iJJ9L._SL210_ I know what you are thinking, "How could you say that Transformer is worth and Oscar?"

But of all the films on the list, this is the only one that made me believe that the impossible was possible. The robots feel real, and not added to the picture. I have to say even with all of Michael Bay's nauseating jitter cam, the combat and the machines still, what was the magic word?? They wowed me.

I doubt it will win, but of the nominees, The Transformers should win the award.

Review of The Golden Compass Movie

11Zv4RMhU1L._SL75_ The movie is based on the Philip Pullman Book "The Golden compass" which was originally published under the name "The Northern Lights". It is the first in a trilogy, The Golden Compass; The Subtle Knife; The Amber Spyglass . The story is set in an alternate earth and is about a young girl named Lyra Belacqua who stumbles upon a political conflict occurring amongst the adults in her life. Her uncle, Lord Asriel is conducting controversial research on this mysterious thing called Dust. This research is opposed by the Magesteriem who are the controlling authority in the setting and are determined to save the population from Dust's corrupting influence. But when Lyra's best friend Roger gets abducted by the GOBBLERS she needs to head to the north pole to rescue him. She teams up with Mrs. Coulter who takes a special interest in Lyra and promises to take her to see the North Pole. Before Lyra departs the school she is given a secret to guard and protect by the head master. A secret she must epically keep from Mrs. Coulter.

The movie Starred:

Marisa Coulter Nicole Kidman
Lord Asriel Daniel Craig
Lyra Belacqua Dakota Blue Richards
Roger Ben Walker
Pantalaimon (voice) Freddie Highmore
Iorek Byrnison (voice) armored ice bear Ian McKellen
Serafina Pekkala Eva Green
John Faa Jim Carter
Farder Coram Tom Courtenay
Ragnar Sturlusson (voice) bear king Ian McShane
Lee Scoresby aeronaut from Texas Sam Elliott
First High Councilor Christopher Lee
Stelmaria (voice) Kristin Scott Thomas
Second High Councilor Edward de Souza
Hester (voice) Kathy Bates
Fra Pavel Simon McBurney
Magisterial Emmissary Derek Jacobi
Ma Costa Gyptian matriarch Clare Higgins

01q HQwn6CL._SL75_

I really enjoyed this film and had a lot of fun watching it. The acting quality was really outstanding with even the CGI Characters behaving in a realistic manner. The animation is consistent throughout the film so as not to break the immaculate reality of the setting. The steam punk elements were visually stunning leaving me memorized in my seat. The film was exciting and entertaining but it didn't quite reach the knock out film level which is why I give it 4.5 stars. I will own it and want to watch it over and over again. I have also included a section for those who are familiar with the book.

I loved the acting quality in the film. I felt that the people involved with the film really had a firm familiarity with the materials both the script and the book. I say this because many of the actors and actresses really hit the right emotional note for their scenes. This is particularly difficult feat with this project because there are a lot of subtle actions being taken and secrets that are not reveled until a latter point in the movie. Some of those things are only revealed in the book. I really appreciated seeing the responses that I expected see to seemingly innocuous events.

The quality of the CGI characters just amazed me both through the amount of emotion that was shown through the characters and through the realistic behaviors and movements. I was very touched to see Iorek's feelings toward Lyra develop and grow. I was also very entertained in the scenes with Mrs. Coulter's monkey, where she was able to be so reserved hiding her emotions and her monkey was not able to hide anything showing her true feelings. I was most amazed by the realistic movements of the various CGI animals. The animators really captured the natural movements and behavior quarks of each animal lending a delightful realism to the film.

The animation was consistent throughout the movie maintaining the immaculate reality. I was able to be pulled into Lyra's world.

The steam punk elements were visually stunning. I particularly enjoyed the gyroscopic propulsion elements and how they were consistent throughout the film whether it was on an air ship or on a carriage. I found it a nice visual addition.

The movie was not a knock out film though. The events were exciting but the end just didn't pop. This was not a big surprise and I would bet that the studio felt the same and for that reason gave the movie a December release instead of a summer release.news

For those who are familiar with the book.

Book Was better but it's rare for that not to be the case. In the book Phillip Pullman is able to really build a tension and excitement that just drove me all the way through the last 1/3rd of the book. The ending was more of a knockout in the book although more controversial and darker too.

They made some changes to adapt the book to the movie. the first 2/3rds was true to the timeline with the events occurring in order as they were in the book. The last 1/3rd of the movie had a different order of events than the book but this was done so that they could end the story on a happy note.

That being said the abridgement of the movie was very well done cutting out material to make the movie fit into it's time constraint but also maintaining the spirit of the story. I was very impressed with the movie for that because it is very hard to make the length of a book fit into the short time space of a movie.

Golden Compass, Hold on to your Soul

I hate these discussions. It drove me crazy with Harry Potter, and now it is following the Golden Compass. Personally, I am late to the show for this controversy. I didn't even know there was one until my sister said something, and I only finished reading the Golden Compass last night. I really enjoyed the book. Golden Compass, originally published as The Northern Lights in the UK, is the story of Lyra Belacqua, a little orphan girl growing up in Jordan College in Oxford, with her daemon, Pantalaimon. In the world of His Dark Materials, every Human has a daemon, and only the witches can be any great distance from them. Shortly after saving her uncle from an attempt on his life, Lyra is taken from the college and placed in the care of the villainous Mrs Coulter after her friend is taken by the Gobblers. After she learns that Mrs Coulter is one of the Gobblers, she runs away from home to find her friend.

The story is an exciting adventure story with many well placed fantasy elements. It opens with a quote from Milton's Paradise Lost from which the series takes its name:

…Into this wilde Abyss, The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave, Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire, But all these in thir pregnant causes mix't Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight, Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain His dark materials to create more Worlds, Into this wilde Abyss the warie fiend Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while, Pondering his Voyage...

The controversy is over whether or not the books are anti-religious or anti-God. The Telegraph explains the trilogy:

Pullman doesn't believe in God, or so he has said countless times. He is also vehemently opposed to organised religion - in His Dark Materials, the church and clergy are malevolent, child-destroying forces of repression. The trilogy is in part a reworking of Milton's Paradise Lost with two children, Lyra and Will, taking on the quest to save the world and fighting the war in heaven. Only this time, the fates are reversed. Lyra and Will overturn the established order. Their worlds are redeemed, and God, who turns out to be only a wizened old man encased in a life-support machine, crumbles to dust (Telegraph).

Or viewed from another angle:

Boston University Professor Donna Freitus is a Catholic and claims the book is completely opposite of what most think.

"It's this story of salvation and awakening to God not the death of God. It's not God at all who's dying. It's the first angel. A corrupt angel who has ruled with an iron fist," Freitus says (WIStv).

I have only read the first book, but I am not sure that it even matters which view of the books is the one the author had in mind as he wrote. I am a Christian. I am a Catholic. And so far, in the first book, I have not seen anything contrary to my faith.

Honestly, the first book in the series is the only one that is important to the current controversy since it is the one the film being released on Dec 7 is based upon.

In Golden Compass, the oblation board is the enemy, but is that the same as saying that the church is evil? Not, necessarily. Devotion to any institution or person is always a dangerous thing. The actions of the Oblation Board are a perfect example of how blind devotion to any human institution leads to harm.

The plot of the Golden Compass is about how we must fight not to loose our soul. So unless your church teaches you that you must loose your soul to achieve salvation, then this book is not against your religion; but if you believe in standing up for what is right, loyalty, and keeping your soul from harm, it is not.

I fully expect that as the story unfold, Lyra will have to continue to fight against the false god who is against the soul. I anticipated that from the first lined of the book evoking the image of Satan believing he is God.

I loved Pleasantville and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, both films about defeating a false god to liberate humankind, so if that is the over arching plot, you would have to have a weak faith or a tyrannical deity to fear that your faith would be challenged. The God I believe is would never instruct his ministers to harm children.

In the end, this is a work of fiction about a heroic young girl fighting against unimaginable horrors to save the people she loves. The shocks are non-stop, and poor Lyra is constantly being challenged by putting her trust in people that disappoint and betray her. It is a perfect opportunity to sit your children down and tell them to never trust anyone just because they hold a position of power or authority. Even people that work for the most noble institutions are capable of doing the most horrible things. Tell them to trust their hearts, and always do what is right, regardless of who is telling them to do the wrong thing.

"The church has to stand for something. We have to stand for something. If someone has an agenda that goes directly against what we stand for, it's a pretty easy decision for us," says Bird (WIStv).

So stand up, but if you feel that you have to defend an institution that kidnaps kids to separate them from their souls, causing pain and suffering everywhere they go, I think that says something more about how you view your religion. I am a Catholic and a Christian. I do not take anything from a fictional book that includes a religion by the same or similar name to the one I practice that does not act at all like the one I belong to seriously, especially because the book is set in a fictional other world where bears talk, witches really fly and the Calvinist somehow control the papacy. The moral lessons Lyra learns are valuable to people of all faiths or of no faith at all.

Personally, I cannot wait to read the next book and watch the movie.

Golden Compass, Hold on to your Soul

I hate these discussions. It drove me crazy with Harry Potter, and now it is following the Golden Compass. Personally, I am late to the show for this controversy. I didn't even know there was one until my sister said something, and I only finished reading the Golden Compass last night. I really enjoyed the book. Golden Compass, originally published as The Northern Lights in the UK, is the story of Lyra Belacqua, a little orphan girl growing up in Jordan College in Oxford, with her daemon, Pantalaimon. In the world of His Dark Materials, every Human has a daemon, and only the witches can be any great distance from them. Shortly after saving her uncle from an attempt on his life, Lyra is taken from the college and placed in the care of the villainous Mrs Coulter after her friend is taken by the Gobblers. After she learns that Mrs Coulter is one of the Gobblers, she runs away from home to find her friend.

The story is an exciting adventure story with many well placed fantasy elements. It opens with a quote from Milton's Paradise Lost from which the series takes its name:

…Into this wilde Abyss, The Womb of nature and perhaps her Grave, Of neither Sea, nor Shore, nor Air, nor Fire, But all these in thir pregnant causes mix't Confus'dly, and which thus must ever fight, Unless th' Almighty Maker them ordain His dark materials to create more Worlds, Into this wilde Abyss the warie fiend Stood on the brink of Hell and look'd a while, Pondering his Voyage...

The controversy is over whether or not the books are anti-religious or anti-God. The Telegraph explains the trilogy:

Pullman doesn't believe in God, or so he has said countless times. He is also vehemently opposed to organised religion - in His Dark Materials, the church and clergy are malevolent, child-destroying forces of repression. The trilogy is in part a reworking of Milton's Paradise Lost with two children, Lyra and Will, taking on the quest to save the world and fighting the war in heaven. Only this time, the fates are reversed. Lyra and Will overturn the established order. Their worlds are redeemed, and God, who turns out to be only a wizened old man encased in a life-support machine, crumbles to dust (Telegraph).

Or viewed from another angle:

Boston University Professor Donna Freitus is a Catholic and claims the book is completely opposite of what most think.

"It's this story of salvation and awakening to God not the death of God. It's not God at all who's dying. It's the first angel. A corrupt angel who has ruled with an iron fist," Freitus says (WIStv).

I have only read the first book, but I am not sure that it even matters which view of the books is the one the author had in mind as he wrote. I am a Christian. I am a Catholic. And so far, in the first book, I have not seen anything contrary to my faith.

Honestly, the first book in the series is the only one that is important to the current controversy since it is the one the film being released on Dec 7 is based upon.

In Golden Compass, the oblation board is the enemy, but is that the same as saying that the church is evil? Not, necessarily. Devotion to any institution or person is always a dangerous thing. The actions of the Oblation Board are a perfect example of how blind devotion to any human institution leads to harm.

The plot of the Golden Compass is about how we must fight not to loose our soul. So unless your church teaches you that you must loose your soul to achieve salvation, then this book is not against your religion; but if you believe in standing up for what is right, loyalty, and keeping your soul from harm, it is not.

I fully expect that as the story unfold, Lyra will have to continue to fight against the false god who is against the soul. I anticipated that from the first lined of the book evoking the image of Satan believing he is God.

I loved Pleasantville and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, both films about defeating a false god to liberate humankind, so if that is the over arching plot, you would have to have a weak faith or a tyrannical deity to fear that your faith would be challenged. The God I believe is would never instruct his ministers to harm children.

In the end, this is a work of fiction about a heroic young girl fighting against unimaginable horrors to save the people she loves. The shocks are non-stop, and poor Lyra is constantly being challenged by putting her trust in people that disappoint and betray her. It is a perfect opportunity to sit your children down and tell them to never trust anyone just because they hold a position of power or authority. Even people that work for the most noble institutions are capable of doing the most horrible things. Tell them to trust their hearts, and always do what is right, regardless of who is telling them to do the wrong thing.

"The church has to stand for something. We have to stand for something. If someone has an agenda that goes directly against what we stand for, it's a pretty easy decision for us," says Bird (WIStv).

So stand up, but if you feel that you have to defend an institution that kidnaps kids to separate them from their souls, causing pain and suffering everywhere they go, I think that says something more about how you view your religion. I am a Catholic and a Christian. I do not take anything from a fictional book that includes a religion by the same or similar name to the one I practice that does not act at all like the one I belong to seriously, especially because the book is set in a fictional other world where bears talk, witches really fly and the Calvinist somehow control the papacy. The moral lessons Lyra learns are valuable to people of all faiths or of no faith at all.

Personally, I cannot wait to read the next book and watch the movie.