Okay, here is my derivative for "The Golden Compass":
The Lord of the Rings meets Narnia meets Harry Potter meets a NatGeo documentary about bears meets Polar Express.
Visually magnificent because any movie that stars Nicole Kidman in designer dressing gowns and a parallel universe is going to be a treat to watch. The new child star, Dakota Blue Richards, has done a good job as its central character, but I think a more powerful individual would have suited the role a bit better. That does not mean that a wide-eyed breathy performance by Dakota Fanning would have been just as great.
Psychologically, it translates symbolically to a fantasy-hungry childhood, which I feel comes forth by the author's respective deprivations. The beautiful goddess-like creature is the head of a group that hunts down children, steals their 'demons' (aka souls) and thus creates indecision in them (all decision comes from thus the soul). The heroine, Lyra Belacqua, is the only one who can read the "Golden Compass", a device that tells you the truth, the answer to any question which you may have. The bears are friends as well as foes. Dust (an ethereal, magical, highly controversial particle) cannot settle on children. Once the demon (which walks beside you in the shape of an animal .... I am reminded of a Patronus ... and changes shape constantly once you are a child) is taken away by the Gobblers, it forces you into a life of cleanliness and conformity and acceptance to the Majesterium, the people who 'tell other people what to do'. The world which Lyra is a part of, a parallel world to the world as we know it, is perhaps not as parallel as we think it is.
Overall, something you can palate if you liked the likes of Narnia and LTOR and Harry Potter. Otherwise, you can just make your kids popcorn or other snacks while they watch it.