Friedman on “The Golden Compass”

Having seen about a half hour’s worth of New Line’s The Golden Compass, Fox 411′s Roger Friedman said today “it will be the big holiday smash hit for which Hollywood is so desperate, without a doubt. It’s full of fantastic animals, all busy shape-shifting, talking and clawing their way to the front of the screen. From what I’ve seen, not only kids but adults too will want to go back and see The Golden Compass a second time for the menagerie alone.”

Is Friedman saying that even special-effects-hating, CG-animal-despising movie columnists who felt tortured by the Lord of the Rings series will want to go back and see it a second time, etc.? Having liked The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I’m hoping this atheist-minded CG children’s epic will be as good, but let’s take a couple of steps backward and remind ourselves that no one can tell anything about a movie from watching a half hour’s worth….nothing.

Anyone hip to marketing tricks knows that 30-minute product reels can be the equivalent of fool’s gold for early-word-spreading journalists. Product reels for Gangs of New York and World Trade Center hoodwinked several Cannes journalists into thinking the full-length films would be better than what they eventually turned out to be. I was once shown a 30-minute portion of Charles Shyer‘s The Affair of the Necklace and came out thinking, “Wow…could be Barry Lyndon-level!”

28 thoughts on “Friedman on “The Golden Compass”

  1. I have hopes for, but doubts about, The Golden Compass. It has some great ideas in it– I love the drunken ex-samurai bear straight out of 50s Kurosawa– but it’s also the grimmest, chilliest bunch of kids’ books I know of; I won’t let my kids read them until they’re teens because 8-year-olds really don’t need stories in which Mommy and Daddy are too busy grappling with the secrets of the universe to love them (and wouldn’t have a problem with slaughtering them if it got them closer to their goal). So I don’t know what the movie does with that– if it’s faithful this’ll be the chilliest kid movie since Return to Oz, if it’s not so faithful and warms things up, well, that might just turn it into mush.

  2. “Is Friedman saying that even special-effects-hating, CG-animal-despising movie columnists who felt tortured by the Lord of the Rings series will want to go back and see it a second time, etc.?”

    Maybe he’s saying: They don’t really add much to the gross, so who cares?

  3. Roger is always off the mark. Sometimes I think he’s on the payroll of studios and record co’s. He LUVVVVSSSS Britney Spears new CD. Go through his archives and you’ll see he’s batting -0-.

  4. Chicago48, I would agree with you on Friedman always being off the mark, but back in the days when I read him everyday, he was the first journalist I read that raved Almost Famous, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice. :)

    I saw Gone, Baby, Gone today. Did Amy Madigan have aging makeup on or did she age 30 years since Field of Dreams?

  5. This is the same Roger Friedman who wrote the following:

    “I hesitated to say before “11th Hour” actually opened how mind-numbingly dull it was for fear that I would ruin it for those interested in the subject of global warming. But at Cannes, when the film by Nadia Conners and Leila Conners Petersen was shown to journalists, nearly the entire room fell asleep.

    A Russian filmmaker told us afterward that she was the only person in the room who was awake at one point.”

    Yeah, Roger, I’m sure that was all about making sure the Global Warmists weren’t spared an awful experience.

  6. Chicago48, Britney Spears’ Blackout is getting decent reviews everywhere. I can’t believe I’m sticking up for Fox’s love of Britney Spear’s, but there you go.

    Also, I’m with Mgmax. I’m not going to let my kids read Golden Compass until they’re 15. I’m not going to let them watch STAR WARS until they’re 30. I don’t want them to have to deal with the story of a father too busy killing intergalactic rebels to acknowledge his children. And I’m never going to let them read The Bible. Talk about bad parents!

  7. If I had kids I would have no problem letting them watch Golden Compass. Kids shouldn’t be coddled and lied to about the world at large. Besides, they can handle it. We watched far grimmer material as children like say, Bambi? The Grimm Brothers. Looney Tunes cartoons – very adult material that was also frequently hilarious.

    Then again I’d let my kids sit down and watch Passion of the Christ for a good laugh as well.

  8. “…but let’s take a couple of steps backward and remind ourselves that no one can tell anything about a movie from watching a half hour’s worth….nothing….”

    This can’t be the same Jeff who infamously walked out of such films as “8 Legged Freaks” and declared them dreck after a mere 10-15 minutes? Can it? I mean, that would be hypocritical.

  9. Screw the kids, I’m going for me, and they can tag along if they want to. They know the story well, for I read the three His Dark Materials books aloud to them a couple of years ago.

  10. Jeff, I’m pretty shocked that you gave Narnia a pass. I’m neither a fantasy-hater nor a rabid Rings fan (I thought Jackson’s films were good enough but mostly undeserving of the awards attention) but I found Narnia really tedious. Tilda Swinton was pretty fabulous but the rest of it was pretty much kiddie boilerplate. The effects weren’t even really all that great, and the kid actors were uniformly gape-mouthed and wooden (and the littlest one creeped me out). Golden Compass looks a little more imaginative, though I haven’t finished the book yet — I found it surprisingly sluggish for a magical adventure though I guess it’s pretty well-written.

  11. “Beowulf is a 3D picture. One reel is enough to tell how good it is.”
    Ok. Um.
    If you need one reel to tell how good a 3D movie is, how much footage do you need of a silent movie to tell how good it is?
    How much footage of a color movie versus a black and white movie?
    How much footage of a film in Smell-O-Vision?
    How much footage of, you know, a regular movie to tell how good it is?

  12. Looking forward to those Best Picture nominations for Enchanted, Golden Compass and, of course, Beowulf. You have a nice day, Ian.

  13. PerfectTommy, I said that Enchanted would have a shot at BP if it made a lot of money. The other two are looking like better shots with every passing day.

  14. I never labeled anyone anyone as stupid, Ian. I’d rather people avoided name calling on these threads, but that seems as unlikely as some Oscar picks.

  15. So Ian, just to clarify, the 5 nominees for Best Picture are going to be 3:10 TO YUMA, BEOWULF, ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE, ENCHANTED and THE GOLDEN COMPASS?

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