Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole with Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenwriters: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Producers: Matthew Vaughn, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Michael Dreyer and Neil Gaiman
Genre: Romantic fantasy adventure
Running time: 130 min.
Before we proceed, let me make this absolutely, crystal clear to you: everyone’s a critic and opinions are like arses – everyone has one. Dig long and hard enough and you’ll probably find a critic to nitpick any movie apart, even one as entertaining as this. If you’ve been prevaricating and teetering on whether to watch this movie or get the DVD: don’t. Just go out there and plunk down your eight bucks and enjoy one of the most entertaining movies of the year. Imagine if you will, an adult fairy tale with all the naughty bits adults take for granted thrown in with absolutely hilarious humour and the sort of romantic tale that will make hardened men smile and perhaps, possibly mutter or grudgingly nod approval and you get Stardust.
Tristan (Charlie Cox) is a bit surprised that the fallen star is actually rather cute.
Based on the award winning Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, the movie follows the plot of the book for the most part but unfortunately had to snip quite a few bits to adapt what was essentially ten hours worth of reading material into a two hour movie. Nevertheless, the movie itself remains faithful to the spirit of the book, albeit with a happier ending. The movie is actually about one Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) and his adventure which starts off as a pretty mundane event in a backwater village called Wall. While being for the most part unremarkable, Wall however gets its name from the fact that it’s actually bordering a stone wall that leads into another world, a fantasy realm called Stormhold though most remain oblivious to the fact except that crossing the wall is verboten.
As with lads his age, Tristan’s trying to woo Victoria (Sienna Miller), the hottest lady in the village to no avail since his romantic rival is the sort of smarmy wanker that women seem to claw desperately over and which we all remember in our high school days as the guy with the looks and the bling. However, Tristan does get one chance – he has to bring back a fallen star within a week before Victoria’s birthday and she’ll marry him instead. Unfortunately, there’s a complication: the star fell over the wall into Stormhold. Oops.
After unsuccessfully attempting to get past the guard at the wall and getting the stuffing beaten out of him, he gets help from his dad who admits that he did manage to cross the wall in his youth and er…sowed his oats so to speak with Tristan being the end result. Suitably informed, Tristan then gets a gift that was waiting for him when he was brought over in a baby basket as a baby: a letter from his mother and a magical candle that once lit can teleport the user over vast distances.
He does manage to get to the fallen star, though he encounters complications. Like said fallen star being actually a really good looking woman called Yvaine (Claire Danes). Being a literal fellow, he kidnaps the star and hopes to drag her home to present her to Victoria as a gift. At this point, Tristan realises that Yvaine is more than a handful as she’s droll and sassy and entirely unhappy with her situation at being knocked out of the sky and being kidnapped the moment she lands. While Claire Danes is American, she carries off a flawless British accent with superb comic timing and classic English understatement.
Unfortunately, Tristan isn’t the only chap after her as a trio of chronologically challenged witches led by Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) are after her heart since nibbling on it can reverse the aging process and make them young again. Michelle Pfeiffer hams it up as a sociopathic witch with an obsession for her looks that makes most divas today look sane by comparison as she runs all over Stormhold chasing after the star and Tristan.
Yvaine is also being hunted by a trio of princes, all of whom have to snag a necklace about her neck that would pronounce one of them as the King of Stormhold. In a rather literal display of office politics taken to their logical extremes, the Stormhold monarchy requires that a prospective king cack every last competitor to the throne before he can take the job. That means every prince is out to kill the others and get the necklace on Yvaine which leads to a surprising amount of carnage played to black comedic effect.
An electrifying experience with Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro)
Thus follows an entertaining two hours as Yvaine warms up to Tristan despite their rather awkward initial meeting followed by everyone chasing after the duo. Robert De Niro plays a hilarious role here as the captain of a sky ship with a rather unusual pastime that he keeps quiet about.
While the star studded cast plays their roles to the hilt with little to fault, Claire Danes carries the whole show as she is able to depict guileless innocence with sassy charm. The special effects are extensive but subtle and the best part is that they’re not there to impress you, but to simply smooth the way into making the movie itself a believable suspension of reality.
While it’s a fairy tale, it’s an adult one which doesn’t flinch from the violence when it has to. You get quite a variety of fatalities ranging from people falling from tall buildings, people drowning, getting kebabbed by cutlasses and one chap, actually two with their heads split open like coconuts with a hatchet. Currently, Stardust has been constantly compared as an upgunned version of the Princess Bride but that’s like trying to differentiate mandarins from oranges. The movie crosses several genres, and yet manages to combine it into a cohesive whole. As it stands, it’s definitely something highly recommended even if you don’t like to watch romance, comedies or fantasy movies in any combination. Stardust is one of the few exceptions.
A stellar body called Yvaine(Claire Danes) drops into Stormhold for a visit.