Rating: 3 Pulses
Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro, Sienna Miller
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Stardust is iffy.
On one hand, it’s a fantastic story, adapted for the screen by Vaughn and Jane Goldman. It’s a spell-binding tale of love and adventure in a magical land of royalty and ghosts, poisons and sorcery.
On the other, it feels like a cheapened replica of itself.
Fans of Neil Gaiman’s original comic novel will be disappointed as the story has been manipulated so much that it’s merely a skeleton of its former self. The adult-oriented origins are neglected here, replaced by a silly tone and goofy sentiments.
Young Tristan (Cox), product of a union between a mortal man and an enslaved princess, ventures into a magical realm beyond the border of his village in search of the fallen star he hopes will win him the heart of the blossoming Victoria (Miller). He is surprised to discover the star is actually an acerbic woman (Danes), injured by the fall she incurred when a colossal ruby knocked her from the sky.
With time running short and a slew of depraved souls seeking the star, Tristan drags her chained through the countryside and into the clouds, rushing to make it back to Wall before Victoria’s birthday, when she’s sure to take another man’s hand in marriage.
The special effects are mediocre at best, relying far too much on smoke and mirrors to do the trick. They’re reminiscent of ’80s fantasy films, before modern technology and computer animation. It feels cheap and so do the jokes.
Set in England and the fantasy realm of Stormhold where brothers kill brothers for the throne, boys are turned to goats and goats to men, where immortality can be yours by eating the heart of a fallen star, Stardust lacks the cheeky British humor it appears to emulate.
Even Robert DeNiro falls flat in his performance of pirate Captain Shakespeare, a frilly man hell-bent on maintaining his vicious reputation as a tyrant despite a fetish for dressing in women’s clothing.
Yes, that DeNiro.
Pfeiffer is a treasure as Lamia, a 400-year-old witch, slowly deteriorating as she chases the pair. She is icily malevolent, hunting down Yvaine with a vengeance in hopes of eternal life for her sisters and herself
This movie is for teens beyond their Narnia years that haven’t quite caught up to vast fantasy adventure epics like the Lord of the Rings trilogy that do the genre proud.