The Golden Compass

Based on the book Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, first published in 1995, The Golden Compass is the first in the His Dark Materials trilogy.  The story could easily be based loosely on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but it seems much richer and far darker.  Also, as it is filmed using interpolated rotoscoping, it is a much more realistic flick than the slightly less-whelming Chronicles of Narnia.

I went along with lowish expectations (possibly because I’ve not read the books and what I’d heard about the plot made it seem complex, which could have resulted in it being wooden) but the film exceeded them by a long, long way, swallowing me right into the plot and carrying me along until I reluctantly left my seat when the credits had finished and even the cleaners had gone. 

If you’ve been reading my other film reviews, you might think that I get sucked into each of the plots and rave about each film I see, but I have a vivid imagination and we also try to save the more average films for DVD or TV.  We saw so many films one year that it seemed like an age before there was anything new for our small screen.

For this film, I would recommend looking at the web-site above, as there are some interesting elements to retain your (or your children’s) interest… not least the ability to find out what your daemon is… in my case, a female snow leopard called Aleona.

Strangely, there is also a Rough Guide to His Dark Materials, suggesting that it might be a real place with some nice beaches and cheap hotels to stay in… though Nigel & Kristin‘s direct experience of Polar Bears in Labrador suggests it may also have a very dangerous night-life.

The Kingdom

We caught up with Dai in Brighton for coffee and conversation about the latest technological developments in education, before heading off to Brighton Marina for supper and a film.  The marina is excellent at the moment… it seems to have progressed in waves, getting quite depressingly tired between moments of excellence, but right now there are a more than 20 capacious places to eat, a stack of shops, a David Lloyd gym, a casino… the list goes on.  Oh, and a cinema, of course.

Oh my, WHAT a film!

The Kingdom, directed by Peter Berg and starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner, is based in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after a terrorist bomb shakes a compound for western workers.  With it’s complex post-911 / east-west / inter-cultural tensions and stunning performances from the cast, the action is relentless and the plot gritty and scarily believable.  Overall, it’s a very thought-provoking film and left us slightly dazed!  Five stars!

Michael Clayton

I’m suprised to report that we’ve not been to the movies since the middle of August, but this is mainly due to the traditional lull in the launch of decent films at the end of the summer holidays.

Ironic then, having raved about the Bourne Ultimatum, to go and see another film penned by Tony Gilroy, although this time he directs too. 

George Clooney plays Michael Clayton, a fixer in a greedy corporate law firm whose largely honourable motivations are misunderstood by those around him, to his detriment.  It’s a tense thriller for those people that like to have to think about what’s really going on… in fact, I overheard one of the women who had clearly only gone along for George Clooney (swoon!-), having the sub-plot explained to her afterwards!  Tom Wilkinson gives a stunning portrayal of a brilliant laywer pushed way beyond his principles for too long, while Tilda Swinton gives fascinating insight in the two-sided personality (the perfectly composed side you see and the one that worries like the rest of us) of a top executive.

Cracking plot and brilliantly executed, I give it 5 stars!

The Bourne Ultimatum

I’ve been pondering how much detail to go into here.  Let me just say that if you’ve seen the other two and liked them, then see it while it’s on the big screen. 

 If you’ve not seen the other two, watch them in sequence on DVD in the next couple of weeks and THEN go and see this one while it’s on the big screen. 

It is an awesome flick and has a raw power than sweeps you into the action and carries you from start to finish. 

Every bit 5 stars in my book!


It’s raining as I look out from the window of my study and while this means that I don’t have to worry about watering the garden this evening, it might make for a wet run in the morning.  If I start thinking now about waking at eight to the clear sky of a Sunday morning and leaping out of bed with the irrepressable urge to get out in my trainers, I reckon that is what will happen.  Focus is required, of course, but let’s see what happens!  Fourteen hours and 36 minutes to go.  Off to the flicks now to see The Bourne Ultimatum link so watch out for my review tomorrow!