09 December 2007

Grading on the Curve

I took my oldest son to see The Golden Compass this afternoon. We purposely waited until Sunday; if we're going to be against theocracy, might as well go all the way.

We're really of two minds about the film. There are a few things we quite disliked, primarily the soundtrack. Character voices were a bit muddy, and the score was awful — too loud and entirely the wrong feeling for the film. This film called for a small, intricate score, not a histrionic, stereotypical overdubbing of excessive strings with little real variety. The absence of blood got a rather disgusted comment from him that that actually glorified the violence. And the voiceover prologue at the beginning insults the audience's intelligence (although it was probably necessary to deal with Hollywood executives).

On the whole, it wasn't a bad film, and certainly not when graded on a curve. It was a bit short; it didn't quite feel like the beginning of an epic, whether in the clichéd "epic scope" sense or in that of Paradise Lost. However, many of the cuts that were made were consistent with the transition from book to film. If graded on a curve — whether the class consists just of "YA books adapted to screen" or "Hollywood fare" — it gets about a B+. On a rigid scale, though, we're in C+ territory.

Ironically, the local ice storm made Svalbard look inviting.