From Slate's review of The Golden Compass: "I'm here to tell you that, without at least a working knowledge of the Dark Materials cosmos, Weitz's adaptation is a near-impenetrable murk, a blur of CGI beasties, shimmering dust clouds, and vaguely mystical blather."
Salon's reviewer wasn't as positive. She referred to the movie as "utter, soulless crap."
As I've said before, when I read the book, probably eight or nine years ago, I just thought it was a great, thrilling ride. Really, that's all I'm hoping for from the movie.