The first mistake I made was re-reading the book *right* before the movie came out. I should've known better than to do that -- it didn't work with Harry Potter, it definitely wasn't going to work with this. But oh well, it's too late now.
The second mistake was expecting it to be good. Seriously, I was NOT a fan of this movie at all. Maybe I'm in the minority, (Rotten Tomatoes has it at 45%, so apparently reviews are split) but I really did not enjoy The Golden Compass AT ALL.
But here's the good: The actors/actresses were excellent and well-represented the characters as I imagined them. The daemons were created extremely well and I loved how they put to screen something I could barely grasp in my imagination. The world created was beautifully and fantastically created.
But the bad: The storyline strayed far from the book too often for my liking. And, in my opinion, the plot development was poorly done. Okay, I understand there's a lot in this book, too much for a 118 minute film, but seriously -- there were a lot of things that could've been left out and a lot of things that simply could've been included instead. PLUS, the movie wasn't even complete! It just ends of in the MIDDLE of the story! (Okay, not really, but I was still angry.) I know that this is an issue with trilogies in general -- that the story will inevitably be halted almost abruptly, but at the very least finish the journey of the golden compass! ::sigh::
Seriously, not a fan. (I asked my friends who I went with and the ones who hadn't read the book(s) felt the story was choppy, but the one who had read it a long time ago enjoyed it as is.)
Side note on the religious aspects of this film: Seriously, not all that present. The religious themes are a lot stronger in Books 2 and 3 of the series anyway, and I really think that the little in Book 1 was toned down A LOT in this movie.