starring Nicole Kidman, Sam Elliott, Eva Green, Daniel Craig
screenplay by Chris Weitz, based on the novel by Philip Pullman
directed by Chris Weitz
by Walter Chaw The newest entry in the "what the fuck" hall of fame is Chris Weitz's deplorable, dull, nonsensical, unwatchable The Golden Compass, which comes packed to the gills with meaningless terms, arcane concepts, stupid names, and a narrative patchwork that plays like a game of "make-up" improvised by a hyperactive child. Arriving on a wave of controversy as right-wing hard-ons decry its anti-Christian tendencies (where were they for Beowulf?), the picture's full-on attack on good taste and coherent filmmaking are what they really should be protesting. Adherents will thrill, I suppose, although I doubt that atheists are as natively stupid as born-agains--but without a good working knowledge of the Pullman books upon which the film is based, I can't imagine anyone having a chance with this stuff. Impenetrable ain't the least of it. Weitz is completely outmatched by the material, trying too hard to cram all the gobbledygook about daemons and dust and witches and armoured bears he possibly can into every crevice available between the CGI sequences while leaving out huge, gaping expanses of necessary exposition in the process. If this wasn't bad enough, consider the sequence that begins with a 900 lb. polar bear wisely suggesting that a thin ice shelf can't support both his weight and that of his 80 lb. rider (sage, indeed)--thus necessitating their splitting up--and ends with said 900 lb. bear materializing out of nowhere to somehow surprise a bad guy from the front. Even with full knowledge of the Pullman books, the way the movie's put together is plodding, non-sequitous, inept.