WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
Lyra's quest to uncover the sinister plot of the Magisterium continues as the events of Philip Pullman's book The Subtle Knife unfold. Lyra and Will finally meet in a strange new world.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials has been brought to the screen before in the 2007 film, The Golden Compass. But anyone who has read the books would know just what a disaster it was, and that's why watching the HBO, and BBC1 production is such an absolute joy. They've kept true to the books and brought this exciting story to screen beautifully.
His Dark Materials is set in a multi-world reality and follows the story of Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen) who lives in a world where the manifestation of people's souls take the form of animals called daemons. A child's daemon changes shape constantly until it settles when they become teenagers. The world is ruled by a church called the Magisterium. His Dark Materials seems to be a commentary by Pullman on the archaic nature of the church versus the enlightenment that is science told through the story of Lyra and Will.
Dafne Keen is absolutely perfect as the young heroine Lyra Belacqua. She brings Lyra's bravery and determination to life so wonderfully. Alongside her is Amir Wilson as Will Parry who Lyra falls in with in season two.
Where season one focused on a series of kidnappings and Lyra setting out to find her best friend, Roger (Lewin Lloyd) and uncovers a plot involving her estranged mother in trying to separate children from their daemons, season two pushed Lyra into our world where she meets and forms a strong bond with Will. At first, they need each other; Will needs Lyra to find his father and Lyra needs Will to take her to his Oxford so that she can find out more about Dust and watching their friendship grow is wonderful. Will and Lyra also come into possession of the Subtle Knife (which happens to be the title of the second book in the trilogy) that allows them to cut windows between worlds so that they may travel between points easier.
Ruth Wilson is amazing as the villainous Mrs. Coulter, but while she was just a very one-dimensional character in the 2007 film, in this series, she is wonderfully complex. Throughout the series, you find yourself feeling for her plight as a woman of science who is stifled in a patriarchal world, and you're never quite sure just what her intentions for Lyra are. She claims to love her daughter yet does things that are not in her best interest and would surely not win any mother of the year awards.
In Lyra's world, women are second class citizens by the Magisterium, and Marissa could have been so much more. When she travels to the other Oxford she realises just what she could have been when she meets, Mary Malone (Simone Kirby), the scientist that Lyra's been in contact with in regard to Dust aka Dark Matter.
Even though there are only seven episodes per season, the story has the space and time to be told properly unlike the mess that was 2007's The Golden Compass. The tension in nail-biting and the big moments are amazing and had me cheering and shouting at my screen. That's when I know when I truly love something, if I am not talking to or shouting at the characters on my screen, then I have not connected with them.
His Dark Materials is an excellent adaptation of this beloved fantasy series and is well worth your time during this holiday season.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: