The worst crime of a film like this is that not only is it retarded, it expects its audience to be retarded as well.
Film Freak Central
The Golden Compass ultimately fails as a film in its broad strokes and inadequate scene development.
There may be box-office gold from The Golden Compass, but panning for it while viewing is a real day at the mine.
San Diego Union-Tribune
A mishmash of half-baked ideas, loud special-effects and disjointed imagery.
A movie with characters constantly explaining arcane concepts and only rarely doing anything about them.
Las Vegas Weekly
This series has promise, but The Golden Compass is a letdown.
Hampered by its fealty to the book and its madly rushed pace.
New York Times
Golden Compass lacks any real fantastic flair. It is a decent enough feature, but is short of that spell-binding quality that will allow audiences to embrace it.
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
Almost nothing remains at the end – not a glimmer of mystical inquisition, not a teasing loose-end of space-time speculation – to lure a Pullmanite towards a sequel.
Film Journal International
And my personal favorite:
Why is it so joyless?
Well, Lisa, to answer your question: When you blatantly attempt to destroy “the Authority”, to undermine His Church and to seduce His children, you can pretty much count on an absence of joy. Eliminate the source of all true joy and there is simply nothing left.
And here is the rest of it.