The Golden Compass: I actually went to see the Golden Compass at the Cinerama on opening weekend, which is not something I do often. For those of you not in Seattle, the Cinerama is a refurbished classic Super Cinerama theatre that Paul Allen bought and refurbished. It has a state of the art projection and sound system, and really comfy seats. I also saw the first two LOTR movies here, and man, the sounds from the battle scenes actually made small children cry. It rocked!
Overall, I liked the movie. The effects were beautiful. The acting was suberb. My only problem with it was that unless you’ve read the book, I have a feeling that it wouldn’t have made much sense. It had the sense of having been a much longer movie chopped up kind of indiscriminately in order to make it fit some arbitrary length limitation. They downplayed the allegory of the Magisterium for the Church, I felt, by having Magesterium authorities dress more militarily and less like clergy. Also, I would not take a small child to see this movie. A couple of the scenes actually made me cry in fear (where Mrs. Coulter’s daemon grabs Pan to punish Lyra, for example).
But, as I said, I did find it enjoyable, if choppy. I liked the special effects. There wasn’t a bad performance in the lot. I adore Sam Elliott as Scoresby and his Daemon. I don’t know if I would have understood it near so well had I not read the book, so if you haven’t and you find it confusing, grab a copy and start reading. I was a teeny bit disappointed with where they ended it, but I completely understand.
The Protector: This was released a while ago, and I just picked it up on DVD. I adore Tony Jaa. The Protector is about a family (religious order?) who raise and protect elephants that are to be the King’s elephants. Long story short, elephants are stolen, people are killed and Tony Jaa goes to Australia to find the elephants and open up a can of whup ass on the bad guys. This film, Tony Jaa’s second, follows the same basic formula as the first, essentially the destruction of traditional Thai life by the invading corruption of the West, and his character fights the uphill battle to correct that corruption.
Warning. You will cry.
The fight scenes are amazing, particularly the scene where he fights the capoeista in the burning Buddhist temple in three inches of water. It is pure poetry. All of the fight scenes are beautifully choreographed, even the smaller, throwaway scenes. Yeah, the plot’s weak, but it’s a great vehicle for the fight scenes, and that’s all that matters really.
If you are into martial arts movies, I cannot recommend Tony Jaa’s films highly enough.