Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

If nothing else, ‘Stardust’ is unique in that has to be first movie ever in which a man engages in carnal knowledge with a star.  I’m not talking like Julia Roberts or Beyonce or someone like that, though carnal knowledge with either or those two loverly ladies wouldn’t be something I’d turn down, that is were I not married of course, but I’m talking about relations with a  real live, fallen from the sky and taken into human form Star.  THAT has to be something indeed.  And to tell you the truth the entire movie ‘Stardust’ was something to see indeed.  An old fashioned adventure yarn with kings, queens, damsels in distress, witches, magic, sword fights, horses and carriages that is beautifully told, wonderfully paced and a delight to witness.  I would say it’s a great family film were it not for the pre-marital sex, beheadings, poisonings, stabbings and occasional impalings going on, so ‘Stardust’ may be a bit too adult for the real little ones to be taken to see, unless you’re one of those karazy irresponsible parents, but for the rest of the viewing audiences THIS is the best magical movie of summer.

Narrator Sir Ian McKellan opens our film telling us a tale about a pair of towns in England that over 100 years ago were separated by long brick wall with the opening being guarded by an old man.  Neither resident of either town is allowed to crossover, but young Dunstan who lives in the town of Wall outwits the old guard and crosses the barrier making his way into the magical town of Stormhold.  Amongst the many wondrous things that Dunstan sees, the one that captures his attention the most is a witches slave girl Una (Kate MacGowan) who claims to be the captured daughter of the King of Stormhold played by Peter O’Toole.  Now I don’t whether Una was just happy to see a man or what, but she takes young Dunstan into her trailer and nine months later, Dunstan is delivered a happy bundle of joy named Tristan.

Many years later Tristan (Charlie Cox) has grown into a somewhat awkward but dreamy young man finding himself in love with town cutie Victoria (Sienna Miller), though Victoria only seems interested in having Tristan carry her groceries.  Never one to say quit though, after coercing Victoria out to watch the stars one night and witnessing a falling star, and Tristan makes the promise to Victoria that his love for her is so great that he would catch that falling star and retrieve it for her.  Victoria finds those terms acceptable and Tristan’s adventure is about to begin.  A few problems though.  One being the fallen star has landed to earth and become human as the irritable and cranky Yvaine (Claire Daines).  Another issue is that the star was knocked out of the sky by the King throwing his valued ruby into the sky and laying a challenge to his four surviving sons to find the Ruby, with that man being named the new King of Stormhold, with Yvaine now wearing the much desired ruby.  And the last and most daunting problem being the desire of a trio of evil witches, led by the powerful Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), to capture this fallen star, cut out her heart and regain their long lost youth.  Now Tristan with his fallen star in tow and must navigate all manners of pitfalls, pirates and peril to find his way back home and present the gift to his true love, or is it that true love is right by his side?  Regardless, there is an adventure to be had.

It’s not every day you get see Robert DeNiro, Don freaking Corleone, play a gay pirate but here it is in blazing color.  This is one of the many pleasant surprises in this fine film, which admittedly tells a fairly standard story of a boy becoming a man and having to rescue a damsel in distress in the process, but director Matthew Vaughn crafts this story, based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, with such confidence and gusto that it’s very difficult not get swept up in the magic of it all.  Where the director probably succeeded the most, say unlike the ‘Transformers’ movie, is that he didn’t donate his film to the special effects team and instead relied primarily on the tried true devices of story and character.  Though there were effects to be had and wonders to be seen as there should be in any good adventure tale, however the driving force of ‘Stardust’ is the character of Tristan and the relationships he was able to establish that helped assist him in his linear growth throughout the film as a character.  Young actor Charlie Cox acquits himself well as Tristan, coming off as completely believable in the role of the awkward young man who we are well aware will have to become something of a superhero before films end, and he also holds is own considering he’s in the company of certified legends such as DeNiro and O’Toole as well as great talents like Michelle Pfeiffer, Ricky Gervais and Rupert Everett. 

If there was any problem with ‘Stardust’ it may have been just too overreaching.  I haven’t read Gaiman’s graphic novel but it seems as if Matthew Vaughn tried to jam as much cool stuff as he could in the little time he was allotted to tell his story and it got to be a bit overwhelming at times, but alas this a minor quibble as I found ‘Stardust’ be a completely enchanting, if somewhat adult themed – though I know it won’t be marketed that way – fantasy film more than worthy of your cinematic dollar.

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