His Dark Materials: Season 1 (Blu-ray) – Series Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family
Distributor: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Episodes: 8
Duration: 60 min (per episode)

His Dark Materials: Season 1 (Blu-ray) – Series Review

Site Score
Good: Atmosphere, Animations, Acting
Bad: A bit slow at times
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(2 votes)
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

Philip Pullman’s trilogy could have basically been the next Harry Potter, if it had received the proper treatment, or if the creators of the 2007 movie, The Golden Compass, didn’t fuck up a lot of story portions of the source material. Sadly, the books and the movie attempt shoved the great fantasy adventure story to the background and it was basically forgotten until we saw the first glimpse of His Dark Materials. This time the books would be converted into a series, with impressive cast members. While it took some time adjusting to the visuals of this series, after watching The Golden Compass years ago, we were quite happy to see Pullman’s story being shown to the world again, hopefully seeing its live-action rendition completed.

It’s hard to summarize the story of His Dark Materials in a few lines, as we are taken to a world where every human being lives alongside their own personal daemon. This daemon represents their very own soul, which is linked to that person at all times. If the person dies, the daemon dies, and vice versa. We get to meet the very young Lyra Belacqua (Dafne Keen), who is being raised at Jordan College in Oxford. She was brought there by her uncle, Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), who is an explorer that goes against all that the Magisterium stands for. The latter is basically a religious organization that controls the biggest part of the world, oppressing the masses from speaking out.

When Asriel returns to Jordan College to speak about Dust, and how this supposed Dust is linked to the possibility of having multiple universes one could traverse through, he is also the target of a murder attempt in the college itself. It seems that they want to take him out before he endangers the immunity that was granted to the college, as his research goes too far. Add the fact that children are randomly getting abducted, that young Lyra is being lured away by Mrs Coulter (Ruth Wilson), who promises her to become a strong leading woman figure as well, and you have a lot going on at the beginning of the series. From here on out it’s all about a massive struggle against the Magisterium, eerie experiments, the existence of different worlds, and Lyra’s special skill in reading a mysterious device that shows her the truth of the world.

In terms of the flow of the series, things movie along quite slowly, which is to be expected if you ever saw the 2007 movie. That movie basically deals with 90% of the first of Pullman’s books in the course of one movie, making eight hours seem like an awful lot when being turned into a series. Nonetheless, it takes some time to get into things, and the highlights on certain scenes actually become rather interesting as your dive deeper into this fantasy rabbit hole.

His Dark Materials does not shy away from big Hollywood productions, or even the botched movie attempt in 2007 when it comes to the cast of this production. This time we see names such as James McAvoy, James Cosmo, Ariyon Bakare and many others grace the credits. Dafne Keen is now chosen to play Lyra Belacqua and we have to be honest that it feels a bit awkward at first. It’s clear that this young girl is still fairly inexperienced and you might get bothered by it during the first few episodes. Nonetheless, as the season progresses, she clearly feels more comfortable in her role, and she does a great job living up to the character of Lyra from the books, and even the great performance of Dakota Blue Richards, who did a formidable job for her very first acting performance. As mentioned above, many big names, be it from big Hollywood productions, or popular series, grace the cast with their presence, and this is really noticeable when watching the series.

The Blu-ray box of His Dark Materials: Season 1 comes with many different special features. There are many short clips that revolve around the creative process of the series. There is also a lengthy making-of feature, which also goes over certain of the separate extras as well. Other than that, we find some of the leading cast members talk about their personas in the series. We thoroughly enjoyed the extras that were on both discs of the set.


His Dark Materials: Season 1 is a very impressive rendition of the first book of the series that shares the same name. While the first attempt at getting this saga to the silver screen somewhat failed, it already showed that this specific story had a lot of potential. Those who have seen the 2007 movie might find that this first season is a bit slow-moving, but when you get into the pace of the series, you’ll certainly appreciate it. At the moment it’s basically waiting how the future books will be represented as Pullman’s second and third book get a lot more surreal than the introductory issue of the series. We enjoyed it, but things can go in every direction from now on.

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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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His Dark Materials: Season 1 (Blu-ray) - Series Review, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

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1 Comment

  1. […] His Dark Materials is back! This highly-acclaimed series based on the trilogy of books by Philip Pullman continues in season two, picking up after the climax of season 1 with a desperate Lyra setting out to follow Lord Asriel to the mysterious city known as Cittàgazze. Many of the regulars return in this next chapter, which will soon be released on both Blu-ray and DVD. A special box-set that includes both seasons will also be released, all of this on July 7. These physical releases will come with an abundance of bonus material for hardcore fans to enjoy. Not yet convinced? Catch our review of the first season here. […]

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