Looking to ride the coattails of recent franchises based on children’s fantasy literature, The Golden Compass falls a bit short of the mark. Unlike the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings films, the movie – based on Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy – fails to flesh out the fantastical realm created by the author.

The Golden Compass movie feels both truncated and thin in comparison to the novel. While it is difficult to fit a novel’s intricacies into the film format, usually the visual aspects and special effects somewhat make up for this failing.

Even so, Nicole Kidman executes a nice, chilly turn as the evil Marisa Coulter (beautifully dressed by Ruth Myers with hair design by Kerry Warn). There are also some memorable moments between a girl and a polar bear king.

Grade: B

The Golden Compass is currently available.