Ty Burr
May 02, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Half the drama is in the EXTRAS, specifically reading between the lines of The Golden Compass two-disc set’s commentary and 11 featurettes. In the former, writer-director Chris Weitz defends his adaptation of the first novel in Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy. But in a making-of, Weitz looks like a man besieged by producers and his own insecurities. The film splits the difference: It’s a visually awe-inspiring otherworld whose story is served up in awkward chunks. The kid (Dakota Blue Richards) is a find and Ian McKellen gives good bear, but this movie actually needed to be longer. B-

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