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By Pete Vonder Haar | December 7, 2007

Pete Vonder Haar is in seclusion this week while he mourns the death of Evel Knievel. Luckily for us, his Aunt Leticia from Stephenville, TX has graciously decided to review The Golden Compass in his stead.

I used to love the Lord. I’d go to services at St. Crescentia’s every morning, sing in the choir, and volunteer at the mission on the weekend. But that’s all over and done with now; since my devotion to Jesus and love for my fellow man have been replaced with profound emptiness and contempt, and I have “The Golden Compass” to thank for it.

Now, even in my happier days I occasionally found myself at a little “down in the dumps” spiritually. This happened again quite recently following the untimely passing of “JonBenet,” my precious little Bichon Frisé, and prompted me to think about the usual Big Questions. For instance: why would a loving God continue to extinguish our brightest stars, like Tammy Bakker and Jack Valenti? And how did He expect us to persevere in the face of unrelenting injustices like the crisis in Darfur or denying Marie Osmond a “Dancing With the Stars” title so soon after calling her daddy to heaven (or the Mormon version of it, at least)?

Well sir, I decided I needed a lil’ ole break, so I hopped the #47 downtown to a screening of “The Golden Compass.” It sounded like a harmless enough movie (I didn’t know it was based on something called His Dark Materials, which for some reason never appeared on the church’s Book Nook reading list), and one that might offer me a respite from my earthly concerns. After all, it was supposed to take place in some zany world where crazy, unheard of things – like people flying in balloons and governments stifling scientific inquiry – happen. As it turned out, I couldn’t have been more wrong, and my search for light-hearted entertainment had been replaced with a sneak attack upon the actual foundations of my faith.

You’re thrown a lot of info about this world right off the bat. For instance, the souls of its inhabitants were housed in animal companions called – are you ready for this – “demons.” I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was taught by my Mama and my pastor that demons are bad things, and not what you want taking a stroll with you to the Waffle House. Also, the main character of the movie was a girl named Lyra Baklava (Dakota Blue Richards) or some such, who spent the whole movie sass-talking her elders and consorting with questionable characters. Hardly what you’d call a decent role model for proper young ladies.

And it goes downhill from there. I was happy to see that pleasant-looking Craig Daniels fellow as Lyra’s uncle, Lord “Israel” (who believes there are other worlds out there besides his own), but did the former Mrs. Tom Cruise really have to play the villainous Mrs. Couture? She was always so fashionably dressed, and her hair was just so, it seems a shame to suggest bad people can look just as attractive as we god-fearing folks.

At the very least the director could have made her a brunette, like the honest-to-goodness “witches(!)” who are on the side of Lyra and the others who are out to free the children kidnapped by the somehow familiar Magisterium.

And not only did those so-called “demons” take the form of animals, but they actually talked! And the worst of these wasn’t a demon at all, but an alcoholic polar bear Lyra befriends named “Yorick,” who it turns out was played by an actor named Ian McKellen who – I just recently learned on the Internets – is a homosexual.

It was all too much…when did movie studios start giving honest work to Sodomites? Whatever happened to the Golden Age of Hollywood, when nice, clean-cut young men like James Dean, Tab Hunter, and Rock Hudson graced the silver screen with their inoffensive, manly presences? When did we as a society decide it was all right to allow young girls to think and act for themselves without the stern and guiding hand of a parent or clergyman present?

This was more than I could bear. I tried to leave the theater, but I could feel my very faith in Jesus withering and dying under this constant onslaught of sky cowboys and hat-wearing bears. Too late I realized how much damage Pullman and his handful of moderately popular fantasy novels has done to our ancient and established belief in an omnipotent Supreme Being. No wonder the good people at Focus on the Family have urged us to boycott “The Golden Compass,” for if the utter destruction of my own beliefs is any indication, then it is clearly a bigger threat to Christianity than Communism, Islamic fundamentalism, and the Catholic Church’s continued denials of institutional child molestation combined.

For family entertainment, I’ll stick with Rock Hudson, thank you very much.

Pete will be back with new reviews next week. Unless Mr. T dies.

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  1. Jim Peters says:

    Hey, Aunt Leticia from Stephenville, your review MUST be tongue-in-cheek, or you are off your meds. After all, your family entertainment icon, Rock Hudson, was a bisexual for much of his life, died in 1985, becoming the first major celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness.

  2. Double B says:

    Boy, did that movie suck, and I’m sure his (Pullman’s) novels aren’t that far off! For one thing, what happened to Lord A*s-real through the second half of the movie? Did he go run off to be an actor named Daniel Craig so he could play James Bond? That left me hanging. If he’s supposed to be helping Lyra beat the Magistrum, wouldn’t you think he would have showed up at the final battle against Couture’s allies? And a little girl out-smarting all of the adults in this movie? I’d like to see that in real life. Didn’t J.K. Rowling do this with her Potter series, and she was having a breakdown while writing it! Sorry, I may sound biased about my opinions of this story,but it left me scratching my head. (Plus, there were two others also scratching there heads over it.)I’ll take JRR Tolkien, (all 4 LOTR movies were awesome, like a genius wrote them) Michael Ende, (3rd movie of Never Ending Story sucked, big time) and Brian Jacques over this fellow, anyday! In fact, why don’t they make a movie out of Redwall? At least, I’d believe that storyline much more than this one. Once again, sorry, just my opinion so take it, leave it, or send it up your tail-pipes.

  3. ShortArmSalute says:

    Me? I get cranky when a studio does a film such as this as an intended franchise (Eragon, The Vampire’s Assistant,et al) and when it flops it all gets abandoned leaving dangling plot threads and cliffhanger endings. Definitely similar to being left bull-balled.

  4. Willow says:

    Maybe you should actually READ THE BOOK before you start going off on things that aren’t what they seem. And- are you ready for this- they’re called “DAEMONS.” They are in no way, shape or form related to the word “demon.” And it’s Lyra Belacqua. And Lord Asriel. And Mrs. Coulter. And you know that polar bear you mentioned? It’s Iorek Byrnison. And what’s wrong with homosexuals?
    Just one more thing… If you haven’t noticed, we live in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, where we have a RIGHT to freedom of speech and expression, and not everyone believes the same things you do. Philip Pullman is an outstanding author with a lot of talent, and maybe you should think about that and respect other peoples’ points of view before you write him off as an author who spurred the destruction of your “ancient and established belief in an omnipotent Supreme Being” with his writing of a series of FANTASY novels.

    • Mark Bell says:

      If you review A MOVIE, you shouldn’t have to read THE BOOK to understand what’s going on. Both should be able to standalone.

      Plus… nah, a joke explained isn’t funny…

  5. Juniper says:

    I thought your article was pretty funny. Christians really can get upset over the tiniest things. It’s a fantasy story for god’s sake, and I think they need to realise that.

    Nobody’s going to pick up a book by some unknown author and take each word literally. Believe with all their heart and soul that the events/characters portrayed in the book are real and dedicate each day, month and year to that character. Then pass it onto their children for them to teach their children in the future.

    Oh wait… That kinda does happen. I change my stance. Down with Philip Pullman and his mind-f**k books! I didn’t think people would believe in talking animals, mystical beings and an organization hellbent on oppression. But they do! And that’s dangerous to society and our children.

  6. Mark Bell says:

    Swing and a miss…

  7. James Burgerstone says:

    Are you high?
    You have to be to take that much Biblical hate from a movie such as this. First off you actually spell the word deamon wrong, spelling it as demon. Sure they are similar but this was a book many years before it was a movie, If your going to write a review anywhere people are going to read, look up facts before you write something. You can tell you didn’t do any research when looking this up. You probably watched 15 minutes of the movie, thought “oh I can play this off like its anti-religious and then ill get rich for having an awesome review”. That only works on those crazy religion sites that say everything is the devil. I even thought this was one of those sites, dedicated to making sure everyone knew that star wars was just another way to lure you into hell. Then i realized it was just a crazy guy on a normal site. Then you go on to say “when did they start giving honest work to sodomites?”. I’m not for gay rights or anything but to rate a movie worse because an actor who is in it is gay? That is totally wrong for a movie review site. If you think being gay is going to make someone burn in hell, be happy with the eternity in hell and let them live happy lives. If you cant be happy with that at least don’t put your gay rights opinions in your reviews. So I think you should just take this review down, it might be fit for some of those one sided christian religion sites but there is no way it is fit for an honest movie review site.

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