Jaq's Review: Stardust - A Fairy Tale For All Ages
by Jaq Greenspon
August 8, 2007
Once upon a time, there was a film that encapsulated the idea of the modern fairy tale in a perfect 130 minute package. That film went by the title of Stardust and it has everything a fantasy film could want… there's an evil witch, a scheming prince (or four), a fallen star, a quest for love, and hidden lineage which leads to great things – and Robert De Niro as a blood-thirsty air-pirate named Shakespeare!
To be fair, I'm not going to tell you anything about the plot. It's not that the plot is so mysterious or anything, in fact, it's almost wonderfully predictable, but this movie is so much fun I want you to have a good time just letting it unfold before your eyes. So then, what shall we talk about to fill up this review?
First things first, then, is the story. Newcomer Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn adapted the book by Neil Gaiman, author of the Sandman comic books. Gaiman is part of the new generation of writers who have redefined the fantasy genre and his story here is no exception.
Second, we can talk about the cast. De Niro has already been mentioned and he's wonderful! I will admit, when he first appeared on screen, I was a little nervous. He was stiff and his New York accent seemed oddly out of place amongst the English. But then when we get a glimpse into his true character, he pulls it out so completely all my past fears were erased. Then there's Michelle Pfeiffer, who is inspired as the evil witch. Add in Peter O'Toole as the dying king (every fairy tale must have a dying king), Rupert Everett and Jason Flemyng as two of the seven warring sons of the King and Ricky Gervais as Ferdy the Fence and you have a supporting cast worthy of a Harry Potter film.
As for the two leads, Tristan and Yvaine, Charlie Cox and Claire Danes are perfect. They treat the characters with enough reverence to make them believable and enough fun that you'll want to inhabit their world.
And what a world it is. Designed by Gavin Bocquet, the same guy who designed the three latest Star Wars movies, Stardust is a sumptuous treat for the eyes. Everything from the tower city of StormHold to the bazaar where Tristan (and his father, eighteen years before) finds his fortune forever changed are fully realized creations. No matter what is on screen, we, as the audience, believe it. It could be a two-headed elephant or a flying pirate ship, doesn't matter. This world exists and it's just beyond a wall somewhere in England.
Overseeing this whole creation is Vaughn, whose sophomore outing as a feature film director is an overwhelming achievement. He leaves few moments for directorial criticism and handles the comedy with a deft hand. Yes, there is comedy. In fact, Stardust is quite funny. Funnier than any other fantasy film in years (certainly more chuckles than Lord of the Rings), but humor doesn't mean everything is light and airy. There is darkness here as well, and it's fairy tale darkness, which means real and true evil (don't believe me, go back and re-read the original Grimm). In the end, though, well… you know what happens. And it's wonderful.
Reader Feedback - 11 Comments
Wasn't sure about this one but now i have to see it.
Heckle on Aug 8, 2007
Same here. I wanted to see it, but was afraid it would be a stinker. My Blog: http://www.pdsys.org/blog/
Nicholas on Aug 9, 2007
First of all most of Neil Gaiman work is awesome so I wasnt to worried to much. But I was concerned about Matthew Vaughn. Mainly because his work has been either up or down. Mostly up if your into Snatch and or Lock, Stock. Then hits hard with Swept Way.. OMG So lets just see if there are some fans out there that really into fantasy movies/stories these days Lets get entertained!! Thanks First Showing.
Ryan McCarthy on Aug 10, 2007
Heya Ryan, you do realize that Matthew Vaughn didn't director any of the movies you mention in your comment? I believe you are confusing him with his buddy, Guy Ritchie. Anyway, Stardust is pretty darn good.
Dalek on Aug 12, 2007
Dalek, Matthew was a producer for those films.. I believe that's what he was referring to. A producer does indeed affect a film, sometimes drastically.
Nicholas on Aug 12, 2007
Jaq is right, this is an AWESOME fantasy movie, it may be one of the best I have ever seen. This is like Princess Bride on steroids and then some. WELL worth watching! And don't let the Princess bride comment fool you, I am an anti-chick flick girl and assure you this one is for everyone!
S.Camel on Aug 13, 2007
As someone who watches alot of fantasy movies, and is not afraid of a good chick flic/ comedy. I have to say this about stardust. Eh... Its way to Eh.. By this I mean its ok but nothing stands out. Dinero is the best part of the entire movie and without him it would have been a solid Uh.... The storyline is lacking, yes its a kind of dark fairy tale, but that is not an excuse to have holes in a storyline that make little sense. You want a dark fairy tale? Go rent Perfume: Story of a Murderer. Now thats one of the best movies to come out this year and its a dark fairy tale to boot!
J. Smithey on Aug 28, 2007
I finally saw it, and I really liked it. However, there seemed to be some editing or pacing issues.. the scenes change too abruptly sometimes for my liking. But overall, it was very enjoyable, and a great "date" movie.
Nicholas on Aug 28, 2007
i can't believe jaq gave this 9.5 stars and halloween only seven or so. halloween was like the citizen kane of films this year compared to stardust. stardust was an epic let-down...a truly disappointing film. only fan boys that masturbate to neil gayman's lame novels will enjoy this film....because only a fan boy could understand it. it tries so hard to be another "princess bride," but fails in every way. i almost walked out on this film it was so bad. everything about it sucked....from the story to the acting to the special effects. the more i see from writer neil gayman the less i like him. this was a story a five year old could've come up with and a movie a five year old could've made more interesting. EVERYTHING about it failed! it tried to be humorous with those stupid ghost brothers....but it was not funny. it was retarded. it tried to be romantic with the lamo star (who looks very much like a transvestite with her huge chin, nose, and adam's apple...i mean, if you're going to find an actress to play a star, couldn't you find one that doesn't look like a man?) that falls from heaven and the guy that meets her...but it was not romantic in the least. it was retarded. i tries to be magical and all that bullshit...but it was not good fantasy. it was retarded. this movie was retarded. and only a RETARD, like S.Camel, would say this movie was "like Princess Bride on steroids and then some."
joec on Sep 6, 2007
Someone's a little salty! Joec, if your kind of film is Halloween, then no wonder you hated Stardust..
Nicholas on Sep 6, 2007
To be honest, this movie was a let down. The action happens too fast, the is no strong base to the story...it's like "the unicorn shows up and youre like wow unicorns exist too..then the flying ship shows up and youre like omg flying ships exist too". The only special effects sucked big time (refering to the "double elephant" in the cage at the beginning). The best film that was ever MADE (and im talking about the making of the film not about the genre or other things like that) was Lord of the Rings. Just my 2 cents...
Synoptic on Apr 2, 2008
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.