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'Golden Compass' a family-fun adventure

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By The Staff

“The Golden Compass” is a beautiful, fun, exciting, fantasy of a different world. Animals talk! There are no engines. Instead blue balls that glow and spin, power cars and planes.A wonderful sense of style permeates the entire place – sort of like a Lalique necklace, yet there is also a 1940s look to suits and clothing without being dull or drab. It is all so very chic.The animation is slick and fits in so well, it is hard to tell when “The Golden Compass” is animated sometimes.Dakota Blue Richards plays Lyra Belacqua. Lyra is the feral child running around playing with the neighborhood children. An orphan who does not know her parents, she is raised in a college. Lyra tackles life with vim and vigor. Bravely she goes on a quest to save her friend.Lyra is the heroine around whom the story of “The Golden Compass” revolves. In this wonderful make-believe world, half of each person’s personae is an animal. When a person is hurt, their animal is hurt and vise versa. And when a person dies, their animal turns to dust and disappears.Lyra’s better half is Patalalmon, “Pan,” voiced by Freddie Highmore. Since Lyra is not yet an adult, her animal can assume any form. Once a person reaches adulthood their animal becomes fixed into one form. For example Nicole Kidman plays Mrs. Coulter and her animal is a golden monkey – which sounds beautiful until the monkey’s expression shows what Mrs. Coulter is feeling. Nicole Kidman is like a magnet in this role. We can’t keep our eyes off of her. Beautiful and graceful, she plays a very forceful person.Fifty-four people are in the cast of “The Golden Compass,” including those who do voice-overs for animals, such as a funny bunny named Hester, voiced by Kathy Bates.Daniel Craig plays Lord Asriel and his animal is the leopard Stelmaria.Witches do not have an animal, so Serafina Pekkala, played by Eva Green, rides her broom alone.Two bears are played by two Ian’s. Ian McKellen plays Byrnison; he’s big, brave and Lyra’s friend. Ian McShane is Ragnar the king of the bears.Directed by Chris Weitz, the movie is Philip Pullman’s story coming to life. There are a few scenes that were cut and a few scenes were shortened, but that is something for adults to argue about. Children will enjoy this grand epic with talking animals, armored bears, adventurers, witches, evil scientists, the military and a beautiful little girl.