Chicago Sun-Times

By Roger Ebert
A darker, deeper fantasy epic than the "Rings" trilogy, "The Chronicles of Narnia" or the "Potter" films. It springs from the same British world of quasi-philosophical magic, but creates more complex villains and poses more intriguing questions. As a visual experience, it is superb. As an escapist fantasy, it is challenging.
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New York Daily News

By Jack Mathews
Represents the year's biggest gamble - and it delivers the year's biggest and most ambitious fantasy.
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Chicago Tribune

It’s pure introductory adventure, meant to immerse readers in Pullman’s richly complicated fantasy universe.
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Philadelphia Inquirer

By Steven Rea
If Weitz's Golden Compass feels, at times, too crammed with exposition and big set pieces, the film nonetheless works far more successfully than the first Potter pic - the leaden "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" - did translating its source material.
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The Hollywood Reporter

By Kirk Honeycutt
A "soft" epic, a film touching on childhood fantasies with sturdy, unwavering characters driven to evil or good. More "Harry Potter," in other words, than "Beowulf."
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Boston Globe

By Ty Burr
At times you feel Weitz flipping the pages and dog-earing wildly, and that's a shame: This is a movie that needs to be lengthy and discursive, the better to duck into the back alleys of its invention. A visionary is required. This director isn't one.
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Wall Street Journal

By Joe Morgenstern
Looks magical, seethes with elusive profundities and makes remarkably little sense, though the murkiness makes perfect sense on a shallower level.
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Entertainment Weekly

By Owen Gleiberman
The Golden Compass is a snowbound mystical-whizbang kiddie ride that hovers somewhere between the loopy and the lugubrious.
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USA Today

By Claudia Puig
Disappoints with its lack of character development and convoluted storytelling.
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Rolling Stone

By Peter Travers
Me, I just think it blows. What does it matter if you spend millions on a movie - love the talking, battling bears! - if the effects are cheesy, the story runs off on tangents and after watching the movie fail utterly to be the next Lord of the Rings, you just want to go home.
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51 out of 100
Mixed or average reviews
Metascore® based on all critic reviews. Scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.