Huh … Goats pulling one of their own … weird.

Theatrical Release Date: 08/10/2007
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong

When I first heard about Stardust, I must say I was more than a bit concerned. For one, I love Neil Gaiman’s work, but can’t always see how well it could translate to the big screen, especially in mainstream theatres. Another concern was the hokey-ness factor, which I feared might be high for this film (In case you are wondering, hokey-ness is a word, or will be once I put it on Wikipedia).

Needless to say, my expectations were woefully low.

Sometimes it is good to walk into a film with nothing to lose. Then it can only surprise you for the better. That is the case with this one, actually. Stardust is not a bad movie.

Sorry, Ian.

Stardust has many storylines, but here is the gist:

There is a small town in England called Wall. It is thus named for the wall that runs along the edge of the town and separates this world from a magical realm called Stronghold. When a star is knocked out of the sky, Tristan (Cox) promises the source of his unrequited love that he will go through the wall to find the star and bring it back to her.

In Stronghold, others seek the star as well. The surviving sons of Stronghold’s dead king seek the star in order to claim their kingdom, and three witches seek the star in order to restore their beauty. When Tristan finds the star, now in the human form Yvaine (Danes), he has to figure out how to get her safely back to Wall, and finds himself and what he truly values most in the process.

This is a pretty well executed film. The effects are good, and the plot works well. The plethora of storylines seems worrisome at first, but they all come together nicely and make for a richly told story.

The acting is good as well. Cox and Danes have the roles that are the most dynamic, and both actors do a good job with their parts. At first, Danes’ anger at her situation comes off as petulance, but as the movie goes on, she becomes a truly fun character to watch. Cox is disarming from the start, and it is easy to root him on in his quest. Their chemistry is good, and it is fun to watch them onscreen together.

Pfieffer and Strong (as Lamia the witch and Septimus the prince) seem to revel in the fun wickedness of their roles, and make for charismatic villains.

The small roles and cameos are also well played. The most notable are Peter O’Toole as the dying King, Sienna Miller as the previously mentioned object of Tristan’s affection, and a hilarious turn by Robert De Niro (to say more would ruin the fun).

This is definitely a film in the fairy tale genre. It has been compared to several films, including “The Brother’s Grimm” and “The Princess Bride”. This film made the wise decision to stick to one fairytale-inspired plotline instead of tying in several, which makes for a far less choppy film than “Grimm”. It does bears comparison to “The Princess Bride”, but is a bit more adult-oriented.

It is at times humorous, and seldom takes itself very seriously, but it has the earnestness that fairy tales are known for, a clear delineation between good and evil. It is full of action and adventure, love and loss, all of the good stuff that the Grimms and their successors have been writing about for hundreds of years.

I know, this film sounds incredibly sappy, and it kind of is. It plays to your emotions shamelessly, and the resolutions aren’t terribly realistic. But if you are a fan of fairytales and happily-ever-afters, you should go see it. I give it a 3 out of 5, and thought it was sweet, silly fun.