In 2007 I know watched The Golden Compass with Dakota Blue Richads (Skins), Nicole Kidman (Paddington, Railway, Sleep) & Daniel Craig (Spectre) – who in my mind was Hugh Jackman. I remember liking the film enough but at the same time I knew that there wouldn’t be a sequel.
This time around Enola Holmes‘ screenwriter Jack Thorne took Philip Pullman‘s “His Dark Material” trilogy and turned into a series that seems to have spared no expanse to bring this colorful world to the screens. The first season is for as far as I’ve read the book – in both of my attempts – is an adaptation of “The Golden Compass or Notherns Lights.”
The main cast of the show is huge and include many young and veteran actors. Logan‘s X-23 Dafne Keen stars alongside Kit Connor (Ready Player One), Ruth Wilson (Luther, Jane Eyre, Suite Française), James McAvoy (It, X-Men First Class), Lewin Lloyd (The Aeronauts, Judy), Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton, Marry Poppins Return), Clarke Peters (The Wire, Treme), Anne-Marie Duff (Sex Education, Sleep), Ruta Gedmintas (The Strain, The Borgias), Ariyon Bakare (Good Omens), Andrew Scott (Spectre, Sherlock, Fleabag), and Amir Wilson (The Letter for the King) to name a few.
Premise: In a world where all humans have animal companions called dæmons, which are manifestations of the human soul. A young girl, named Lyra, an orphan living with the scholars at Jordan College, Oxford, is destined to liberate her world from the grip of the Magisterium which represses people’s ties to magic and their animal spirits.
Review: The visuals are the first thing that anyone would notice watching this show, they are incredible. The sets and costumes are amazing, and the daemons in particular are very well realized. Even if the visual effects are not always perfect, these little imperfections give character, a visual identity to the show.
For someone who’s read the first book up to a point, the show has adapted it in an uncanny way. Both of my attempts at reading book one petered out around a quarter of the way through, which is the first two or three episodes. And yet I still recognized the first quarter of the world described in the book. Where I was interested but not enthralled with the book, I was captivated with the show. The world building is as rich – and a little confusing – as it is in the book but some of the inherent visual aspects of the story are on full display here and it helps. There’s a lot of background on the characters and Lyra’s world to cover but it’s done with deft and skill.
The mystery surrounding Lyra and her destiny, unfurls throughout the show as we learn more about her parents, the Gyptians, and the Magisterium. The story is given the space to breathe and grow without slowing or clogging up the show. They keep things interesting. There’s a whole aspect to the story that obviously came as a surprise to me, that said there were moments I could tell were not in the books and yet meshed with the spirit of it and served the story brilliantly. As exciting, tense, and adventurous the series gets, there are a few pacing issues that required my patience but in the end I was rewarded
The world building and its visuals may be stunning and help in captivating the viewers but the cast is not lagging behind. Whether it is with voice-over acting or on screen, the actors were great. I was amazed by how well the younger ones held their own and further impressed by the seasoned actors who made these characters real. Ruth Wilson is a scary b!%[$ but so delicious to watch, the same goes for Ariyon Bakare. The whle cast is A1.
His Dark Material first season is a great high fantasy with a deeper meaning under all those pretty visuals and good acting. And shout out to the VFX team who animated the Golden Monkey – he had range lol – so did all the daemons and bears.
If you’re interested in the source material, it would be a huge help if you get it from the link below: