The Golden Compass and American Gangster

The Golden Compass (Movie)

DAMN IT! They pulled a Two Towers on me…they moved Shelob to the next movie…I guess I can accept that, but it’s still frustrating to be expecting one kind of ending and getting another ending (ala Sky Captain).

As far as book adaptations go, this one does fairly well. Switches the 2nd and 3rd acts so that Hollywood can have it’s big battle as the movie finale…accelerates time acceptably (unlike Eragorn where Saphira grows exponentially in one instant) by adding characters and adjusting where information is divulged. Is more vague on the politics of the Magisterium and it’s interaction with the Church. VERY vague on what Dust is (a long time ago…our ancestors went against authority…yeesh*). The entire character of Fra Burber is merely there to accelerate the story and I can accept that. Little bits and pieces missing, but for my money, nothing I’m really truly upset about. A bit too much mention of the alethiometer as the Golden Compass, but it’s the title, so they have to say it as often as possible unlike the book.

And I STILL can’t see the atheistic tendencies! Maybe I’m too much of a pagan heathen 😉

Really great CGI on Iorek (main talking polar bear voiced by Ian McKellan) running through the snow…looked very convincing.

Interesting prologue explaining that this story takes place in a parallel universe where a person’s “soul” is external to the body. Delineates the whole daemon thing much more clearly than the book did (although it gets really obvious after a while). And! Something I did not think about. The switch between having a guardian angel and having a daemon. Very interesting.

All in all a good movie that must have a sequel. Unfortunately, it probably won’t happen with it’s abysmal box office performance, so I’ll just have to be happy with the first book adaptation and enjoy the rest of the trilogy. Le sigh. But hey! At least I won’t have to sit through an Eldest adaptation. *can’t even begin to comprehend how much it would suck*

Spoiler Alert! (place and hold your mouse over the bar to see)

At least in the book it goes full bore and uses Adam, Eve and God in that story and the “confusion” over the translation of God’s punishment (dust thou art and dust thou shalt become/return/whatever).

American Gangster
This was a very enjoyable film based on a true story (do other true story films ever start with the title sequence and then inform the audience that the following is a true story?) from Brian Grazer and Ridley Scott with a PHENOMENAL CAST led by Denzel Washington as drug kingpin Frank Lucas who goes straight to the source to get the purest product and cut out the middleman and Russell Crowe as Det. Richie Roberts, one of the first narcotics officers who’s personal life falls apart as he obsesses more and more over doing the “right thing” as a cop.

One of the most interesting things about this film was the morality parallel. Frank is an American drug lord higher than the Italian mafia and commits murder without a second thought but goes to church every Sunday and takes care of his mother and family. Richie is a boy scout cop (turns in $1 million dollars in unmarked cash discovered as part of an investigation) but is an adulterer (doesn’t just cheat on his wife, but cheats on those he cheats with). Frank ends up falling because he gets too greedy at the end of the Vietnam War, but Richie is able to put his life back together (in theory at least – we don’t see if he gives up being an adulterer, but he gives up his divorce court battle because his house isn’t a good place to raise a kid). Frank kind of turns his life around by turning snitch, but from the tag after the credits, I’m not so sure…

Oh! And the guy from the trailer who has the line “No black man has accomplished what the American Mafia hasn’t in a hundred years!” (and delivers even better and more incredibly racist lines)….is Carmen Ghia from The Producers movie/musical (Roger Bart). Blows my mind to see such a fop put on such a self-righteous attorney face and act so well!

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