Amid disappointing box office returns and middling reviews, The Golden Compass is drawing ire from Christian groups for its supposed underlying atheist messages about the evils of religion—a theme that was overt in the books which it's based upon, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, but which has been stripped out of the movie by director Chris Weitz to avoid offending church groups. Nevertheless, today the Vatican issued an official statement condemning the film, saying it promotes a "hopeless world without God," encouraging Catholics who are already boycotting the film on the belief that "even a diluted version of the book might draw people to read the bestselling trilogy," and that its objective is to "bash Christianity and promote atheism." The Vatican newspaper was somewhat more reserved in its appraisal, saying "honest" viewers would find it "devoid of any particular emotion apart from a great chill"—although, to be fair, they might have just been referring to Nicole Kidman.

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