Stardust (2007)

Stardust (2007)

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Novel by Neil Gaiman*; screenplay by Jane Goldman

Starring: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer

MPAA rating: PG-13 for fantasy violence and risqué humor

Run Time: 130 minutes

official website

Is it possible to turn an imaginative award-winning fairy tale of a novel

into a large computer graphics enhanced movie and keep any of the original

magic?After watching Stardust, I would say that it is difficult, but it is

possible.

By use of a soothing “once upon a time” narration by Ian McKellen, dreamlike

and otherworldly locations in Scotland and Iceland, a charming performance

by Charlie Cox, and Jane Goldman’s skillful screenplay, Stardust manages to

capture some of the spirit of an enchanting fairy tale, and at the same time

please an audience hungry for special effects and the familiarity of big

Hollywood stars.

Stardust is the story of Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox), a young Englishman

from a rural village, who, in order to win the hand of the local beauty

(Sienna Miller), promises to bring her a fallen star.To accomplish this

quest, he must cross the cobblestone wall that for hundreds of years has

protected his quiet town, and venture into the magical and perilous realm of

Stormhold.

The fallen star has turned into a spirited young woman, Yvaine, (earnestly

played by Claire Danes).In addition to Tristan wanting retrieve the star

as promised, Yvaine is being hunted by powerful foes—the King’s (Peter

O’Toole) devious and murderous sons, who each are vying for Yvaine’s secret

powers to secure the throne for themselves, and a diabolical witch (Michelle

Pfeiffer), who must cut out Yvaine’s heart and eat it in order to gain

eternal youth.

On their dangerous journey, and as they race to evade their evil pursuers,

Tristan and Yvaine encounter a beneficent sky-pirate (Robert De Niro) and a

unicorn, among other magical occurrences.Ultimately, Tristan learns to

survive on his wits, discovers the meaning of true love, and uncovers the

astonishing secrets of his own identity.Spoiler alert: they live happily

ever after.

Michelle Pfeiffer puts on a great show as the wicked witch, aided by

impressive computer graphics and extraordinary make-up.She owns the screen

whenever she appears.Robert De Niro’s pirate captain is extremely

entertaining, if a bit broad and disconnected to the rest of the film.He

seemed to be enjoying the role while (metaphorically) winking at the

audience.Pfeiffer’s and De Niro’s larger than life performances will

likely find wide acceptance.

As a film, Stardust is caught in the middle by trying to retain the small

charm of a character-driven fairy tale while appealing to a broad audience’s

expectation of Hollywood hoopla.This is a tough place to be.In fact, at

times, it feels as though we are watching two distinct films…the first, a

tender fable of the search for love and acceptance, and the second, a

humorous special effects extravaganza.

Where Stardust succeeds best is when the two aspects coincide and enhance

each other and the emotion of the story line is sufficiently strong enough

to capture our hearts while our eyes are feasting on the screen’s dazzling

effects.

*Neil Gaiman’s novel, Stardust, Being a Romance Within the Realms of Faerie,

is written for children and adults with lavish illustrations by Charles Vess

that are reminiscent of some of Dante Rossetti’s illustrations.Gaiman is

the winner of three Hugo Awards, two Nebula Awards, one World Fantasy Award,

four Bram Stoker Awards, nine Locus Awards, one British Fantasy Award, two

British SF Awards, four Geffen Awards, one International Horror Guild Award

and two Mythopoeic Awards.

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San Francisco, CA
Emily S. Mendel, a writer and photographer, has been a regular contributor to culturevulture.net since 2006, where she reviews art, film, television and destinations. Ending her 30-year law practice has given Ms. Mendel the time to indulge in her love of travel and the arts, and to serve as the theater reviewer for berkeleyside.com.