Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert DeNiro, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller
It's not often that you get a fairytale type movie that doesn't succumb to the usual cliches you'd find in a storybook. Well, actually to be honest, Stardust does have many of those familiar elements I'm talking about. But its execution is quite different.
Stardust is adapted from the novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman, which focuses on one Tristan Thorne, who lives in a village called Wall, so named because it is situated on one side of a wall that separates England from a mystical land named Stormhold. Tristan has a major crush on Victoria, a spoilt girl who doesn't care for him, but indulges in the attention he gives her. One night, the two witness a star fall from the sky, and Tristan promises to bring Victoria that star for her hand in marriage. She agrees, and off he goes over the wall to seek it.
But little does he know that the reason the star fell is because of the actions of the King of Stormhold, who sends a magic gem into the heavens, and tells his princes that the throne will go to the one who brings it back. The princes, who are notorious for killing each other to ascend the throne, waste no time in stabbing each other in the back as they race to retrieve the star.
The falling star is also witnessed by a trio of witches, led by Lamia, who wishes to use the star to restore their youth, and they will stop at nothing to do so. Lamia is perceived as a vain yet dangerous woman who possesses lethal magical powers. She sets out to get the star through any means necessary.
But all of them are in for an adventure, as Tristan gets to the star first, who turns out to be a beautiful girl named Yvaine. He drags her back to his village, since she isn't too excited about being a wedding gift. The trip is of course laden with one obstacle after another, as Septimus, the most ambitious of the princes, and Lamia close in on the two youths. Tristan and Yvaine get into all sorts of trouble, but they get a little help from a pirate of a flying ship called Captain Shakespeare, who helps escort them on part of their journey. Of course, along the way, Tristan and Yvaine learn more about each other, and the inevitable happens.....
Would you expect finding a dashing prince in this film? Nope, because all the greedy princes are not so dashing. But we do have Tristan, who matures from a naive lovesick boy at the beginning of the story to a handsome hero with courage. We have a wicked witch in Lamia, who rivals the wicked witch of the west, and then some. And then we have a pirate, who is not quite what he seems. All excellent ingredients for a good fairytale.
Danes manages to steal the show in many parts as the headstrong but understanding Yvaine, while Cox is perfect as the wide-eyed Tristan who becomes a true hero in the end. Pfeiffer seems to have fun in her role as Lamia, while DeNiro is hilarious as Captain Shakespeare. Who says DeNiro isn't funny? He'll have you in stitches for sure. Mark Strong rounds up the main cast as Septimus, also look out for cameos by Peter O'Toole as the King and Ricky Gervais as a trader.
Praise goes to Matthew Vaughn for doing wonders with this film, from the pacing to set design to action sequences. He gets it right from start to finish, and gives a movie that anyone can enjoy. Go ahead and see this if you want to have fun, with minimal violence. (4/5)