Really? People were worried about this movie? First of all, it just wasn't that good. I'm not just saying that to solidify my moral compass (pun intended), but I thought the movie just was kinda bland. The ending of the film couldn't have been more "here comes the sequel", much more than many where we all knew sequels were imimnent.
I remember the countless email forwards warning that this film was going to send our children's faith foundation into a tailspin dive that would surely land them in the clutches of Satan himself. Well, sorry. It just isn't good enough to do that. If you didn't know that the author Pullman was an athiest and was taking intentional shots at the Catholic church, well, you wouldn't know that from the movie. Compass won't drag anyone into athiesm, just like Harry Potter won't raise up a generation of wizards.
As luck would have it, our George Bush check arrived recently, so we could afford the once a year journey to the local Cinema 10 to take in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Talk about night & day. Where Compass was weak (cheesy CGI, bad acting, not that great a story), Caspian kept me on the edge of my seat (along with paying for a family of 5 to go to the movies!) I thought the first Chronicles was good, though there was some cheese. None here with Caspian. Excellently done. Of course, the religious symbolism was of special interest to me, but I think the movie is good even if you're unaware. I found Caspian to be an excellent upgrade from the first movie, and that bodes well for the remainder of the series (next up: Dawn Treader, in May of 2010).
A couple of interesting footnotes. Compass and Wardrobe cost the same to make: roughly 180 million. Wardrobe brought in 291 million, plus another 450 million abroad. That's a lot of Turkish Delight. Compass, on the other hand, did 70 million in the US, and 301 abroad. But talk of sequels has gone away, and the New Line studio was recently folded into Warner Brothers. Pullman might want to stick to books. Did the Christian 'boycott' cause Compass to fail? Not sure, but having seen it, I assume the critics didn't like it. It just wasn't good.
(Interesting article about these two from Time Magazine, where I got my stats in the previous paragraph - here's the link)