Before we get to the review proper, I need to talk about some “behind the scenes” information dealing with this film. Stardust was one of the first choices I ever had on the Film A Week list as it is the only film I can recall that has been on my IMDB watchlist for over five years. It has been gathering and collecting internet dust for ages. Stardust was going to get review back in March, but I decided to revisit Power Rangers instead. It would have also appeared in June had it not been for my purchase of Gorjira a.k.a. Godzilla for review. Now at the start of December and it finally got a review that was delayed. It seems like Stardust did not have a chance to even be considered.
Lucky for me, and for those reading, it was worth the six-year wait.
Based upon the novel by Neil Gaiman of the same name, Stardust is a romantic fantasy film directed by Kick-Ass and Layer Cake director Matthew Vaughn that boasts an all-star cast from Claire Danes as the fallen star Yvaine, Michelle Pfeiffer as the leader of three foul witches Lamia and Robert DeNiro as lightning pirate captain Captain Shakespeare. With that said and the cast being top notch, it seems to ooze the essence of another classic fantasy film, but first, some plot.
Tristan, played by Charlie Cox, sets out to find a fallen star outside of the village of Wall for the love of the stuck-up Victoria, played by Sienna Miller, in order to win her hand over her current boyfriend Humphrey, played by pre-Man of Steel fame Henry Cavill. As Tristan heads toward the star, it seems the star collided with the King of Stromhold’s ruby that his sons must receive in order to gain the throne, leading Primus, played by Jason Flemyng, and Septimus, played by Mark Strong, to go in search for it. Tristan heads over to the star’s crater in the fantastical world of Stromhold only to find a woman in the crater named Yvaine, who is the fallen star.
While this happens, three witches get wind of the star as well leading the eldest sister Lamia to go find Yvaine, cut out her heart and bring it back for her and her sisters to feast on in order to maintain their youth. Tristan and Yvaine decide to go adventure out of Stromhold together in order to head back over to Wall. The two get wrapped up with the cross dressing Captain Shakespeare, dealing with Lamia’s magic bullshit and possibly fall for one another as the world around gets a bit stranger.
Without spoiling much for anyone, Stardust is one fantasy thrill ride getting on more than once. It’s great to see that grand fantasy films are still being done right thanks to Lords of the Rings and Harry Potter bringing it back to life. Stardust feels like a spiritual successor to 1987’s The Princess Bride because it hits every mark just right and never dulls in its entertainment.
Vaughn captures the vision of the fantastical and wonder of the impossible while the actors take the work both seriously and with tons of joy. Vaughn makes the world of Stomhold a larger place than what it seems from the sweeping mountains to high in the air with Captain Shakespeare. Vaughn also blends the use of CGI and real set seamlessly with effects that still hold up, given it’s only been six years. The film is always moving and when it stops, Vaughn keeps it in the same pace with the rest of the film like nothing.
On the acting side of the spectrum, everyone is great. It’s very rare to describe a whole cast like that, but no on here seemed wasted nor unnecessary. Hell, Ricky Gervais shows up for only three scenes as a sleazy merchant and even in those scenes, they used him to the advantage. DeNiro plays against the type and delivers a campy performance that is hilarious and charming. Pfeiffer is a great bitch who starts to worry as she de-ages throughout making her bitchiness grow. The two leads are fine with Cox doing a pretty damn good job as the not-so-typical hero type and Danes having a blast as the fallen star with a charismatic personality and a charm that encompasses her beauty inside and out.
Apologies in advance as there was not much to say with Stardust other than I loved it and enjoyed it, but sometimes we do not need to out right review a film to enjoy or what it has to offer. Sometimes it’s fun just to simply watch a movie for the joy and experience it provides along with the wonder it creates. It’s the ideal version of escapism and entering a world unlike our own into another reality that one wishes it was their own. With this film and the wait it has taken for me to watch it, it all makes somewhat sense now.
Some films are made to break boundaries and be artsy and others are designed to be mindless rides. Others are smarter than others while still being entertaining, not making themselves be more intelligent than the audience and not having the audience to suffer through be deemed too damn stupid to function. Stardust reminded me my I love film in the first place and that was to just have fun while still being smart about it.
This Saturday, we team up for controversy, blasphemy and downright hilarity while we take a look on the bright side of life with the still controversial Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Time to show that other son of God whose boss by tackling religion one step at a time.
The Final Month of Film A Week
Film A Week 49: Monty Python’s Life of Brian (1979)
Saturday, December 14th