Chattaway: New Line Marketing “Golden Compass” to Catholics? Plus: Catholic News Service Pretty Much Gives It a “Thumbs Up.”

The controversy over The Golden Compass is becoming so much more interesting than the movie itself.

And it turns out that a review of the movie written by Harry Forbes and John Mulderig for the Catholic News Service has been published early.

Which begs the question: Why are film reviewers instructed to hold their reviews until opening day? I would assume it’s because the studio wants to maximize publicity. But still, when the studio provides me with an opportunity to see the movie early, I assume that I should take their instructions seriously and withhold the publication of my review.

And yet, I’m beginning to doubt that the studio really cares about this much at all. After all, reviewers are posting their reviews… even the religious press… and nobody seems to be holding them accountable.

What’s the deal? If I praise the film, then I won’t be punished? But if I’m critical of the film, well, I’ve broken the rules?¬†

What if I broke my silence about the movie? Let’s suppose, for a moment, I told everyone that, controversy aside, the movie is a whopping letdown… a tangled mess of storytelling… with an off-puttingly shrill and obstinate little girl in the lead… and that it’s anticlimactic and unsatisfying. Let’s pretend that I found its climactic confrontation between polar bears to be a hollow re-enactment of the climactic scene from The Karate Kid, something so muc less satisfying than the stories of true heroism offered by Tolkien and Lewis. Let’s imagine I was underwhelmed by the concluding hubbub, a CGI battlefield spectacle so much like those we’ve seen in other recent films. Let’s just pretend that was my opinion, for kicks. Would I be in trouble for saying so?

Apparently not. As I’ve pointed out in previous posts, reviews are popping up from professional critics, and I haven’t heard a peep about embargo-breaking.

New Line seems happy to take the “any press is good press” attitude.

I’m writing my review. And I won’t publish it until opening day. But I will ask some rhetorical questions, just because I’m baffled by the charade of “embargos.”

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  • http://lookingcloser.org Jeffrey Overstreet

    You know, as the series went on I realized that she *was* shrill and obstinate. In that first book, I misinterpreted her, thinking she was mostly just curious.

    And aren’t most little kids shrill and obstinate at times? Pullman wants to encourage that willfulness and self-centeredness, it seems.

    But again, I’m talking about the book… not the movie. (Looking around to make sure there are no movie cops coming to arrest me.)

  • http://culturezoo.wordpress.com/ culturezoo

    Ha ha! Pretty funny. The thing I don’t get is when you say that they put an off-puttingly shrill and obstinate little girl in the lead that’s exactly how I found the character of Lyra to be in the book. But you liked her in the book?


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