Just came from seeing this movie with my daughter, home from college for the holidays.
The local paper wasn't that kind to it, but this is the hometown of the Magisterium. On the reviewer's behalf though, I have to say that they were pretty well-balanced and accurate in what they had to say. The main objections had to do with depth of character and coherence of storyline. I think, though, that maybe the author of that review may have actually been hampered by having read Philip Pulman's book, The Northern Lights, and therefore knowing more than was good for him. That review did not raise the sorts of objections that the Vatican did, as summarized in an E! Online article today:
Quite the contrary, the local review, over a week ago now, pointed out that much of the book's anti-religious rhetoric had been toned down for the movie. I can only say that if what I saw was toned down, I can hardly imagine what a full frontal assault would have looked like.
"Hope simply does not exist" in the world created by British author Philip Pullman, read part of a long editorial printed Wednesday in the Vatican newspaper l'Osservatore Romano, in which the Roman-Catholic body takes the big-screen adaptation of Pullman's fantasy novel The Northern Lights to task.
Issues of dogma and anti-dogma aside, it's not a bad movie if you need an escape. A little overly melodramatic in places. At least once, I did wish Sam Elliott would just go ahead and French kiss the bear and get it over with (if you see it, you'll know the moment), but all in all, it was a good escape for a couple of hours. The willing suspension of disbelief didn't require enough effort to be distracting. I guess I'd give it a B/B-.
Oh, but whatever you do, hang around for five minutes or so of credits. At least enough so that you get to hear the song at the end. A good mile from the theater we were still laughing at the song. And it wasn't meant to be funny. Britney Spears probably wrote better lyrics in kindergarten. So, if you need a good laugh, don't be the first ones out of the theater, whatever you may have thought of the show.