Review by Christopher Coleman
Of all the film's of the 2007 holiday season, THE GOLDEN COMPASS has probably had the highest expectation heaped upon it. Called the "anti-Chroncles of Narnia," Phillip Pullman's book series has garnered a large following of devoted fans since its debut in 1996. Then in 2002, New Line Studios announced that it would had obtained the rights to make a film-adaptation. With the success of New Line's LORD OF THE RING TRILOGY, the moderate success of Disney/Walden's THE LION, THE WITCH and THE WARDROBE, and, of course, the HARRY POTTER franchise, it seemed that New Line was betting the farm on the apparent voracious appetite of moviegoers for such films. With a massive production and marketing budget, New Line was also betting that the box office returns would enable them to churn out the two sequels as well.
One of the great things about the fantasy genre is that regardless of the quality of the overall film, there is always great potential for a solid score. Certainly the films listed above feature some of the better film music since the turn of the century and the hope was that THE GOLDEN COMPASS and its potential sequels would be no different. In an interesting move to say the least, one of Hollywood's busiest composers of late, ALEXANDRE DESPLAT, was brought on to score the film. While duly respected for his work for films such as SYRIANA, THE GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING, and THE PAINTED VEIL, Desplat's minimalist style didn't seem like the most natural choice for this material...but of course, Howard Shore didn't seem like one for THE LORD OF THE RINGS either. That choice worked out pretty well, but how about this one?