Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Stardust

a Matthew Vaughn film

Stardust poster  
The Wall separates England from the magical kingdom of Stormhold, a place that nestles Tardis-like just beyond a field. When a young man, Dunstan Thorne, sneaks past the guard he finds a land of magic and witchcraft, and a young woman who claims to be a princess kept captive by a witch.

About twenty years later we find Tristan Thorne, a young man who doesn't seem to fit in at all. He can't seem to do enough to win the hand of the woman he loves, Victoria. Another suitor is due to propose to her imminently. In a desperate attempt to impress her, Tristan promises to bring her back a star that he sees falling from the sky as he is talking to her.

Meanwhile the old king of Stormhold lies on his deathbed, his four sons around him waiting for him to declare an heir and successor. But Lord Stormhold is one of those old-school monarchs who expects his sons to fight each other to the death until only one of them is left standing to claim the monarchy. His final act is to declare that the prince who can find and restore the royal ruby will take the throne. That would be the same royal ruby that flew away and knocked a star out of the sky, of course.

Also on the trail of the star is the witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), who wants to cut out the heart of a star in order to restore her youth and enjoy eternal life. Pfeiffer plays the part of the vain and evil witch with relish. Every time she uses her magic she ages further, often with comical effect.

Tristan gets off to a rocky start with Yvaine, the woman-star played by Claire Danes. But their relationship blossoms as they navigate the perils of witches, murderous princes, and crews of raucous lightning-fishers. Robert De Niro camps it up as the repressed Captain Shakespeare, in an over-the-top performance that doesn't really convince.

Ricky Gervais plays David Brent from The Office (again) in his role as the fast-talking merchant Ferdy the Fence. Fortunately he only has a small part.

Stardust is the kind of glossy, smartly-dressed fantasy in which unicorns don't get muddy and enslaved princesses don't wear rags. There are elements in it that resemble Grimm fairy tales, but on the whole it doesn't seem to be all that typical for an adaptation of anything by Neil Gaiman. There's less depth and darkness than you might expect. It's full of messages about accepting people as they are, about love being a reciprocal thing, and other standard Hollywood fare. This film is tame and lightweight, a sweet fairy tale through and through.

The ghost princes are a nice touch, underlining the playfulness of this movie. It's utterly feelgood in spite of all the elements of horror it contains. Horrors such as reading the future using animal entrails, a man-goat, a ninety-year-old ninja, and Robert De Niro in a pink dress. If you're looking for a family film with sword fighting, romance, magic and silliness in equal measure, Stardust is worth a look.

Film Details

Year: 2007

Categories: Films

  Kids     Fantasy

Classification: PG

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4 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson