Stardust is one of the most fantastical fantasy yarns I’ve seen in ages! A humorous fantasy romance in essence, Stardust is based on the legendary Neil Gaimans 1998 novel of the same name and features an ensemble cast including Robert De Niro, Claire Danes, Nathaniel Parker, Peter O’Toole, David Kelly, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais and Charlie Cox.
The story is based in good old England, about 150 years ago in a little village called Wall. Wall lies on the border of the Wall, an old stone wall that seems to stretch for miles in every direction. There is a hole in the Wall, but this hole has been guarded for decades by the old Gatekeeper, and everyone in Wall knows not to cross the wall. But this is not deterrent enough for the adventurous soul of Dunstan Thorne who makes it across and is transported to the magical land of Faerie, the Kingdom of Stormhold to be exact. There he encounters a beautiful enslaved woman and nine months later, a baby is delivered to his door.
Fast forward to the future and Tristan (Charlie Cox) has all grown up and is now an awkward, clumsy young man who is trying to win the heart of a girl he is smitten with, but who is in fact merely using him to get what she wants. When they spy a falling star late one evening, Tristan promises Veronica that hell cross the Wall to retrieve the star in return for her hand in marriage. Given a week in which to achieve this task, Tristans journey into the fantastic is just about to start.
For in the Kingdom of Stormhold magic is strong: A king on his deathbed, seven sons in pursuit of the crown, witches in search of immortality through the power of a star, and even sky pirates who catch lightning for a living. But perhaps most magical of all is the fallen star herself, a beautiful woman named Yvaine and the special friendship that will develop between herself and Tristan as they struggle to return home to England in time for Victorias birthday. It is a coming of age tale for Tristan if only he can survive it!
Stardust is High Fantasy of the highest quality. Neil Gaimans fertile mind brings us a world totally beyond our wildest dreams and really has anything you could ever ask for (even Robert De Niro in drag!) The story is simple at heart, but expertly executed, maintaining a strong focus on the both the fantasy and romantic aspects of the story as the film progresses. There are numerous light touches throughout the movie that keeps it fun, fresh and distinctly British and to be honest, it is just such a great, feel good journey that you will be hard pressed not to like it, even if you arent a fan of fantasy in general.
The movie has been expertly cast and I don’t think we could have gotten a better selection of actors for their respective roles. Charlie Cox is a natural as the clumsy, nave good guy that you cant help but like while Claire Danes is perfect as the slightly stubborn but extremely sweet and nave star. Michelle Pfeiffer delivers a truly great performance as the main antagonist in the movie, playing her role with such vigour and perfection that I doubt you could find a better witch anywhere out there. Mark Strong is perfect as the slightly arrogant evil Prince out to find the stone, but Robert De Niro must take the cake as the gay Pirate Captain Shakespeare. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed this hard at a De Niro performance, and really, he puts on an exceptional show.
The special effects for this movie are top flight stuff, and because of the setting needs to be called upon quite often. From the tavern that emerges out of thin air to the flying lightning-catching pirate ship, the special effects meld in so seamlessly with the action that a person cant help but be totally immersed in this magical world. I think the only thing that looked slightly weak was the brief short of miniature elephants in a cage right at the beginning of the movie, but that hardly counts against it.
Musically, the film features a pretty generic fantasy backdrop, having the same bland sound effects and orchestral pieces for scenes that leave you scratching your head and wondering where youve heard that piece before. Actually, this isnt entirely true and only happens once or twice, but I picked up on it straight away which is why I’m harping on it it is just that difficult to find something wrong with this movie damn it!
In the end this is a generic fantasy romance story in which you know exactly what to expect, but yet manages at the same time to be one of the most enjoyable fantasy romps and movies in general that I have seen in ages. Thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyable and highly, highly recommended, do yourself a favour, grab your partner and go out and see it now!
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stardust_%282007_film%29