What Ebert Said
His weirdly positive review of The Golden Compass is a series of odd statements, starting off with insane claims:
"The Golden Compass" is a darker, deeper fantasy epic than the "Rings" trilogy, "The Chronicles of Narnia" or the "Potter" films. It springs from the same British world of quasi-philosophical magic, but creates more complex villains and poses more intriguing questions. As a visual experience, it is superb. As an escapist fantasy, it is challenging. Teenagers may be absorbed and younger children may be captivated; some kids in between may be a little conflicted, because its implications are murky."
While there are lots of fans of the His Dark Materials book series who would have loved nothing more than to see a whole trilogy of success films, pretty much everyone who saw The Golden Compass can safely say it was not good.
It wasn't even a mediocre fantasy film, in all honesty, so the suggestion that it was a "deeper fantasy" than Lord Of The Rings and Harry Potter is ludicrous. There were some good ideas in there - but they weren't explored nearly as well as in the books - and the very suggestion that it is in any way "superb" is just bonkers.
It's certainly challenging, but not in any sort of positive way.