I had very, very low expectations for this. I was basing this on a very particular past example of a similar thing: The Golden Compass. A beloved book (although in book form known as The Northern Lights), and the start of a wonderful, imaginative franchise from the talented pen of Phillip Pullman. When the film came out way back in the 2000s, it was highly vaunted, and several massive stars were attached, such as Daniel Craig, Nicole Kidman, Eva Green, Ian McKellen… a stellar cast. But the film had no gravitas. It not only made a mockery of the books structure (by cutting out the ending), but the actors didn’t look like they cared. It flunked the movie and it was a box office disaster, rightly killing the thoughts of a sequel.
A few years later, Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series is similarly given a hollywood kick in the face. Actors of such huge potential thrown at it with hope of pulling in the pundits, despite their being no actual love and effort put into the film. Somehow it managed to claw out a (slightly superior) sequel, but i know not how.
And now this. Josh Gad, Colin Farrell and Judi Dench are the victims here, shoved into a film with no heart and a seemingly deliberate penchant for annoying fans of the books, by irish writer Eoin Coifer. Its aimed, once again, with the hope that its the next Harry Potter – but everyone seems to forget that Harry Potter succeeded where all others like this failed simply because everyone involved was having fun, acting their hearts out AND the story was kept intact from JK’s source masterpieces (mostly).
Its plays on irish stereotypes, although i’m sure are true to the book, felt genuinely insulting when played here, because they were done so with so little feeling – Judi Dench saying ‘top of the morning to ya’ was maybe the only highlight in the movie, simply because it felt so wrong when she said it i gasped in surprise.
I read somewhere that the writers of the film didn’t really read the source novels…can this be true? If so, it shows. Wow. I won’t be getting a sequel, i hope not. What i do hope is that the same people that made the Northern Lights for BBC see the potential in a serialised version of Coiffers books, because there is definite potential there. Not here, in this messy, unlikeable, missible and flat childrens film.