I got in a little trouble last week for my comic about The Golden Compass. I got more than a few e-mails from people telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about and should shut up. Some people even went as far to say they were never going to read Theater Hopper again.

In some small way, I hoped to address this through the comic. Now I’m thinking I may have shoved my foot further into my mouth with my crack about the Bush administration.

I guess what I wanted to bring to light about The Golden Compass is that I didn’t intend to be so black and white by characterizing it as a “rip-off” – and I think that’s the term that probably pushed things over the edge.

Here’s the thing: At first glance, I was convinced that The Golden Compass was a sequel to The Chronicles of Narnia. Winterly scenes. Talking animals. Magic. For the uninitiated, I think this is a very easy mistake to make.

I think it’s also safe to say that the marketing behind The Golden Compass doesn’t try very hard to differentiate itself from Narnia. I think that’s deliberately done in order to ensnare people like myself who don’t know any better. “Hey, that kind of looks like Narnia! I liked that movie! I’m going to see this one!”

That was kind of the point I was making with the comics. Even though I was never familiar with Phillip Pullman’s novels, I recognize that they are thematically different from The Lord of the Rings and Narnia. What’s derivative about Compass is no fault of it’s own. Rather, it’s the greed of Hollywood executive who would have never brought this film to the screen if it weren’t for the success of those two franchises.

That’s not to slight the books for their content. I’m sure they are fine novels and would have made it to the screen eventually. But when you consider that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was published in 1950, The Lord of the Rings published in 1954 and Northern Lights was published in 1995, it’s route to film adaptation appears expidited somewhat. I think most people agree that these books share a similar core audience.

In last Wednesday’s blog, I made the joke that I “don’t read books – whatever those are.” and people latched onto it as being dismissive. While I freely admit to being unfamiliar with The Golden Compass, it’s not because I don’t enjoy reading. I just don’t enjoy reading fantasy novels. I prefer biographies and history – things that actually happened. Would it surprise you to learn I’ve never read a Harry Potter book? I’m not putting down the genre. It’s just not my cup of tea.

That said, I don’t think the fact that I’m unfamiliar with the book precludes me from commenting on the movie. This is a movie site, after all and I tend to go with my gut. If I’m wrong about something, I’m wrong. But at least I’m being honest about my reactions. That’s the best anyone can hope for.

Anyway – that’s a lot of explaination for something that was supposed to be a fun poke in the ribs. Just know that none of it is personal and that if I’m making fun of a movie or an actor you like, I’m not judging your taste. I’m just providing commentary. Either it lines up with your sense of humor or it doesn’t. Hopefully you stick around long enough to say “Okay. What’s next.”

Speaking of “What’s next” – be sure to join us for The Triple Feature talkcast tonight at 9:00 PM CST over at TalkShoe. We’ll be discussing The Golden Compass as well as Gordon’s recent interview with Newsarama.com.


We’ll also be doing another on-air contest. This week I’m giving away a copy of the Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake. But you can only win if you call in and participate. We’re doing another trivia contest (planned a little better this time, hopefully) and to the winner go the spoils!

Be there!

↓ Transcript
So, Jimmy. What’s up with the Golden Compass movie?

I’m so glad you asked!

It’s an adaptation of the first of Phillip Pullman’s novels and it’s about a young girl trying to prevent an evil churchlike organization from destroying God!

“Destroying God.”


You know, it wouldn’t kill you to crack open a book from time to time. You might take on a new appreciation of things.

Books? Reading? Not under the Bush administration!