If you haven't read the book "The Golden Compass", go ahead and see the movie, you'll probably enjoy it. It is, indeed very, very pretty, and the story is a decent one. It's a bot overly violent for the young children - I flinched a lot.
If you have read the book, you don't have to avoid the movie, but know that they cut it to absolute ribbons. There's added dialogue, changed situations, the order that things happen in has been changed, and it ends at a different point. The basic story remains, and just seeing the zeppelin at Jordan College might have been worth it for me.
I do recommend that anyone who likes children's stories involving alternate universes read the book. I'm looking forward to books 2 and 3, but rigt now I can't take myself out of "World Without End". I love Ken Follet, and "The Pillars of the Earth" may be my favorite book of all time. After "Madeline", of course.