I admit I didn’t read the Neil Gaiman book upon which this movie is based, but I am intrigued to read it now.
I liked the movie. I didn’t expect to—and low expectations probably helped me have a more favorable opinion—but the writing, acting, directing and story were pretty high quality.
It was entertaining, and at the end, I didn’t feel like I wished I could have a full refund of my money and time. In fact, I felt glad I had taken the time to escape and enjoy this film.
I kept waiting for the characters to deteriorate into one-dimensional stereotypes but the talent of the writers and actors prevented that from happening.
Critics have compared Matthew Vaughan’s adaptation of the fantasy novel by Gaiman to The Princess Bride and Willow. Stardust did have romance, action, adventure, a little braininess, and a lot of light-heartedness. I’m not sure it can quit hit the classic level that Princess Bride did, but it did have a a fair share of enjoyable moments and lines. For example, Michelle Pfeiffer’s character confronts her aging body with equal parts acceptance and humor, even as her entire quest is centered around restoring her youth. When viewing the age spots on her hands that her sisters point out, she quips something along the lines of only having done something paltry, hardly worth the result.
The main male character, Tristan Thorne (Charlie Cox), is wide-eyed naive without being annoyingly flat or stupid. Yvaine (Claire Danes) is charmingly noncompliant to all the various plans to capture her without recklessness and thoughtlessness. Their romance is believable without being eye-rollingly inevitable.
Robert De Niro’s pirate Captain Shakespeare is well-developed and so charismatic that he’s funny and not at all the caricature he could be.
Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) is hilarious in her single-minded “never mind who I trample and I might take a bit of pleasure as I squash you like a bug” pursuit of the star. She’s also a bit human. I appreciated how they kept her character consistent instead of trying to apply some theological reckoning, even if she did get the typical theological consequence.
The supporting characters were equally well-done.
If you did read the book, be prepared for a different ending. Gaiman admits he did contribute to the new ending, and acknowledges that the writer and director had many similar ideas for adapting his book to film as he had. He suggested that they film his ending as well, but the filmmakers decided not to.
Stardust is a nice bit of escapism. It’s not cookie-cutter fantasy, although it does contain the traditional elements of Western myth.
I think the quality of contributors—original story, actors, writers and director—firmly guided this film into something good instead of sappy, one-dimensional and stereotypical. Best of all, it wasn’t predictable.
If you like this genre, I recommend seeing Stardust.
Copyright 2007 Julie Pippert
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