I saw The Golden Compass over the weekend. Nice design, but the storytelling seemed both rushed and muddled. (And it ended with such an obvious plea for a sequel tha many were surprised it was over.) I haven't read the book, which I assume is better done.
As to the controversy over its supposed anti-religious plot, while the evil Magisterium as presented in the movie can certainly be read as the church, it can just as easily be seen as any totalitarian ruling party. And I don't think you have to be against religion to be against any overly dogmatic group, religious or otherwise.
Novelist Philip Pullman is not a believer, and without knowing much about him, I'm just about certain he looked at The Chronicles Of Narnia, got annoyed with its metaphorical message, and figured he could do just as good a job making the opposite point. Since I haven't read Narnia either, I really don't know if Pullman out-Lewised Lewis, but we can now tell with the numbers in that the Compass movie is not another blockbuster.