Golden Compass, The

WSR Score3.5
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New Line Home Entertainment
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For sequences of fantasy violence
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2/Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-50's)
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Chris Weitz
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Dolby Digital Surround EX, DTS HD Lossless 7.1
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In a parallel universe where humans have animal spirit guides called Daemons and great armored ice bears act as warriors, a young girl named Lyra Belacqua (Richards) is given a very special instrument called an Alethiometer. The instrument, also known as "The Golden Compass," is the last of a mystical device that, in the right hands, can unveil the truth and reveal what others wish to hide. When Lyra's best friend in kidnapped by mythical entities known as Gobblers, it is up to Lyra to find him and bring him home. But what Lyra must face is more diabolical than the Gobblers—she will unveil a conspiracy that threatens her world and all the worlds in the parallel universe.Based on the novel by Philip Pullman. (Stacey Pendry)

The only special feature that is not on the DVD is a visual commentary picture in picture experience that takes you behind the scenes while viewing the film on Disc One. There is also the same commentary track by Writer/Director Chris Weitz. Disc Two contains the same special features as on the DVD, including the following documentaries: The Novel: Author Philip Pullman And The Consequences Of Curiosity (19 minutes), The Adaptation Of Writer/Director Chris Weitz (16 minutes), Finding Lyra Belacqua: Introducing Dakota Blue Richards (15 minutes), Oxford: Lyra's Jordan (eight minutes), Armoured Bears: The Panserbjorne Of Svalbard (18 minutes), and Music (12 minutes); the following still galleries: Daemons, Costumes, Production Design: The Emotional Fabric Of A Parallel World, and an interactive view gallery The Alethiometer: Creating The Truth Measure; three different theatrical trailers in The Launch: Releasing The Film; and previews.

The anamorphically enhanced 2.36:1 DVD shows solid black levels with good shadow delineation, helping create a sense of depth to the image. Color fidelity is quite good, with vibrant but natural hues and accurate-looking fleshtones. Fine details are recorded quite nicely, and the entire image has good resolution. While edge enhancement is minor, it can still be noticed over higher contrast transitions. It does not pose much of a distraction though. Pixelation is not a big problem either. The VC-1-encoded Blu-ray Disc exhibits incredibly deep, solid blacks with nicely balanced contrast. Shadow delineation is good, but the shadows nearest to black seem to be crushed. Fine details are delivered well with nice resolution. Occasionally the image can look relatively soft, though. (Danny Richelieu)

The Dolby® Digital Surround EX™ 5.1-channel and DTS® ES™ 6.1-channel encodings both feature a lively mix, but the surround channels can be ignored during indoor scenes. The front stage is amply wide and deep, but with its levels much higher than the surrounds, the soundtrack can sound somewhat dimensionless. Dialogue fidelity is quite good, with pleasant atmospheric integration. Subtle effects are delivered nicely using each of the available channels, and the center surround channel provides an improvement in overall surround integration. The DTS encoding provides an improvement in overall fidelity, causing the Dolby encoding to sound like it has a subtle shroud over the dialogue when directly comparing the two. Dynamic range is also improved with the DTS encoding. The Blu-ray Disc's DTS-HD™ Master Audio lossless 7.1-channel encoding provides fairly impressive dynamic range and fidelity. Dialogue sounds natural, and bass is deep and tight. (Danny Richelieu)