A few weeks ago on another movie review blog (DC Girl @ The Movies to be exact), I guessed Stardust would be lucky to break into the top ten for weekend gross on it’s opening weekend. I came to that conclusion based on the fact the trailer seemed cheesy and childish — even if it did have an all-star cast. Well, I’m happy to say that I was wrong (it hit number four for weekend receipts). While the movie does indeed have its quirks, it is a fun movie-going experience.
Stardust is an adaptation of a book that was adapted from a comic series by Neil Gaiman. It intertwines the stories of several characters into a single braid. You see, even though all these individuals have different backgrounds, they all want to get their hands on a recently fallen star. What most of them don’t realize is that when a star falls from the sky it becomes a woman — in this particular case, that woman is Yvaine (Claire Danes). Anyways, Tristan (Charlie Cox) has pledged his love to the hottest piece of ass in Wall, Victoria (Sienna Miller). To win her affection, he decides to venture beyond the brick wall surrounding the town and search the fantasy land of Stormhold (the wall surrounding the town separates fact from fantasy) for the star and return back with it as a gift. There is also, Prince Septimus (Mark Strong), one of several sons of the reigning king (Peter O’Toole). He must retrieve a priceless amulet that will change color if he is the last of the bloodline and new king of Stormhold (yes that means he must kill his brothers). Of course, said amulet has found its way into the care of the star. Lastly, three evil hags — Mormo (Joanna Scanlon), Empusa (Sarah Alexander) and Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) — all want the heart of the star to regain their youth. Their current stash of star heart retrieved four centuries ago has run low and is in immediate need of replenishment.
The director (Matthew Vaughn) does a commendable job keeping the story flowing while jumping to individual storyline to individual storyline. He manages to do this by getting some great performances out of some of the actors; namely Michelle Pfeiffer and Charlie Cox. Pfeiffer gets credit for relishing in the role of the black-hearted witch who will stop at nothing to ensure she will live forever. Her character reminded me of Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians) only much more cunning and evil. Pfeiffer must be pleased with the advances in cosmetic surgery too because the way she looks as an old lady is a scary sight unto itself. On the other hand, relative unknown Cox, has a very amateur way about him. His character is naive and bright-eyed and the lack of experience of Cox, I believe, actually helped make his character that much more acceptable. I felt very happy for him as his adventure unfolds before him.
That being said, there were a few lackluster performances in Stardust too. Robert De Niro as the flaming lightning farmer Captain Shakespeare was a complete miscast. I’m all for breaking boundaries and type-casts but having him run around with twinkle toes in with a boa talking in a fruity voice came as completely unnatural. I got the feeling De Niro realized what was expected of him to late in the game, so being the trooper that he is, he begrudgingly went along with it. And is it me or does he have a permanent frown tattooed on his face? The biggest letdown for me was that of Claire Danes. A star, to me, is a vibrant, full of life entity. Danes instead approaches the part as that of confused child. I mostly felt she was lifeless and dull — I needed so much more out of the central figure of the movie. Luckily she looked good though, so I can describe her as having a “heavenly body” (yeah I’m a dork).
Overall, as I basically said at the beginning of this review, Stardust isn’t the most fantastical fantasy movie ever made. The effects, while plentiful, are rather simple and uninspired. Thankfully, it doesn’t rely on movie magic to be a good film — it gets that from some strong performances and a lively story that is great deal of fun to watch unfold. See for yourself – it may send a message to Hollywood that more movies of this nature should be financed.