Jack Thorne to write His Dark Materials reboot for the BBC

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Deadline reports that Jack Thorne — writer of such films and TV shows as Skins, How I Live Now, A Long Way Down and This Is England ’86 + ’88 + ’90 — has signed on to write the BBC’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy.

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Newsbites: His Dark Materials! Star Trek! Heaven Is for Real!

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Just a few quick newsbites today — all of which, as it happens, are about brand new TV shows that will be spin-offs or reboots of existing films.

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A last-minute casting change to Aronofsky’s Noah?

Darren Aronofsky tweeted this morning that Nick Nolte has just been added to the cast of Noah as the voice of Samyaza, one of the Watchers or Nephilim. (In most Jewish literature, the Nephilim are the offspring of the Watchers, but in Aronofsky’s film, they appear to be one and the same.) This is a little concerning, as the character had originally been played by Mark Margolis, an actor who has appeared in every single one of Aronofsky’s previous films. Margolis will still be represented in the film, sort of, as he provided the motion-capture performance that the CGI character is based on. But still, I had assumed his voice would be in the film. Let’s hope this bit of last-minute re-casting hasn’t been imposed on the film by the studio, the way New Line Cinema forced Chris Weitz to replace Nonso Anozie with Ian McKellen as the voice of an armoured bear in The Golden Compass (2007).

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The Golden Compass not so magnetic after all

goldencompass-lyraBefore it came out in theatres December 7, I used to tell people that I hoped the film version of The Golden Compass would be great — and I hoped it would flop.

The original book — the first part of a trilogy known collectively as His Dark Materials — is a fantastically creative and engaging bit of fiction. It takes place in a parallel universe populated by witches and talking polar bears, a world where every human has a “daemon,” or an external, animal-shaped embodiment of the person’s soul. It also features some of the most suspenseful scenes I have ever read in a novel.

Unfortunately, the villains of the story are members of an all-powerful church known as the “Magisterium.” And the two books that follow — The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass — turn increasingly preachy as they reveal that the entire trilogy is ultimately about the death of the Judeo-Christian God, the eradication of the afterlife and the establishment of a “Republic of Heaven” that has no need of a King.

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Review: The Golden Compass (dir. Chris Weitz, 2007)

goldencompass-lyrabears“That’s some pretty fast work, Miss Lyra.” So says an impressed Texan aeronaut to a young English girl after she befriends a depressed talking polar bear, inspires the bear to strike back against some church-based bad guys, and persuades the bear to join her on a quest — all, seemingly, in a matter of minutes. But the aeronaut could just as easily be talking about The Golden Compass, the film in which all these characters appear.

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Comment: His Dark Materials: How the Grinch stole God

goldencompass-weitzLAST YEAR, many Christians went out of their way to caution their fellow believers against over-reacting to the movie version of The Da Vinci Code. Yes, the film put forth a deeply problematic view of Jesus and church history, but instead of protesting against it, Christians were encouraged to see it, discuss it with their friends and, in general, “engage” with it as part of their broader engagement with the culture.

This year, however, many Christians have begun to raise the alarm over the movie version of The Golden Compass, which comes out December 7. They have sent each other e-mails full of warnings about the “anti-religious” books on which the film is based. They have pointed their friends to websites that describe some of the story’s objectionable content. And there has been little, if any, talk of “engagement”.

What changed between last year and this? What is different about this movie?

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