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Stardust Reviews

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John M

Super Reviewer

January 31, 2008
Just watched this again for the 5000th time this time on blu ray and it again is just an amazingly fun movie!! Directed my Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass), it is one of my all time favorites. What do stars do? They shine and the stars of this movie do from Robert De Niro to Michelle Pfeiffer. All around great movie!!
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

October 16, 2009
Successful film franchises cast a long shadow. If you directed an adventure film or a sci-fi film in the 1970s and 1980s, you were effectively inviting comparisons with Star Wars and Indiana Jones. What is most successful on a grand scale often becomes the benchmark for other films in that genre, regardless of whether or not the benchmark is a particularly good one.

In the same way, every fantasy film produced in the 2000s is in some way putting itself in competition with Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. There have been many attempts on both sides of the Atlantic to recapture the success of these franchises, or to plug the gaps between instalments, as was the case with Percy Jackson. Stardust is one of the better offerings in this period, beginning in a decidedly ropey fashion but eventually soaring into something distinctive and heartwarming.

The first notable aspect of Stardust is the talent behind it. The film is based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, one of the most admired and acclaimed fantasy writers of our time. The screenplay is co-written by Jane Goldman, who would later do a sterling job of adapting The Woman in Black for Hammer. And it is directed by Matthew Vaughn, who had changed Daniel Craig's career with Layer Cake and would later helm the cult classic Kick-Ass.

Unfortunately, and in spite of this prestige, things don't get off to a very good start. The opening act of Stardust is a very televisual affair: it feels like a posh costume drama with a marginally bigger budget, whose story unfolds at the leisurely pace of an episode of Cranford. It's very common for fantasy films to set up a sleepy home which our heroes eventually leave to go on their journey - Privet Drive, Hobbiton and so forth. But with Wall we don't get a sense of scale or of anything magical lurking just around the corner. It feels, in other words, a little too small and ordinary.

This televisual feel is exacerbated by the casting. While the film boasts a handful of established film talents, like Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong and Robert De Niro, most of the supporting cast are drawn from British TV comedy. Mark Heap, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Adam Buxton are all very talented comic actors, but their scenes feel more like a bizarre Channel 4 sitcom than a full-blown fantasy epic. The main cast fall victim to this too, with Charlie Cox struggling to shake off his performance in Bleak House and taking a long time to bed in as our hero.

Aside from its creaky, televisual opening, the narrative of Stardust is rather ramshackle. While The Lord of the Rings saw multiple plot strands growing out of the central journey of the fellowship, this film juggles up to four competing strands from the outset: Tristan's journey with Yvaine, the witches' hunt for the star, Tristan's mother being held prisoner by another witch, and the brothers fighting for the crown. This is probably the result of compression on the part of Goldman and Vaughn, and while all the sub-plots do eventually come together, for a lot of the running time we're confused as to whom the main focus should be.

Like many fantasy films of the period, Stardust does contain some derivative touches. Ian McKellen's narration is a clear attempt to capture the gravitas that he and Cate Blanchett lent to The Lord of the Rings, but it is largely perfuctory to the storytelling and not as well-written as the speeches in Peter Jackson's films. The central dynamic between Tristan and Yvaine is like Starman with the genders reversed, so that now it is a male protagonist helping to familiarise a female alien with how the world works. Other touches, such as the goat being turned into a man, find the film settling for fantasy convention in itself rather than trying to put its own distinctive stamp on it.

If we approach Stardust is a deadly-serious fantasy epic, it will end up falling short of our expectations. Even though it boasts the same certificate as The Lord of the Rings, it's written more consciously with a family audience in mind and thereby lacks some of Tolkien's compelling darkness. But if we view it in a broader sense, as a more modest fantasy romance with comedy elements, it gradually begins to make sense and eventually comes through with the goods.

Even with all its narrative shortcomings, the film is very funny from start to finish. After a while the gallery of British talent stops being distracting as Vaughn allows each of them to play to their strengths; even Ricky Gervais' cameo is pretty good fun. The physical humour is well-executed, the bitching between the central couple is believable, and the whole film has a playful, mischievous quality which prevents any of its mythology from sounding po-faced.

The real highlight in this regard, however, is De Niro. He's been parodying himself in various ways since the late-1990s, with his roles in Meet The Parents and Analyse This among others sending up either his meticulous preparation or the kinds of roles he has gravitated towards. Captain Shakespeare is a man who wishes to appear tough and macho for his men, but who secretly dresses in drag and is altogether rather charming. It's an endearing characterisation, and the can-can scene is one of the funniest moments.

As the humour builds and finds its feet, so too does the power of the central romance. For all its fantasy trappings, Stardust is ultimately a film about finding love in unexpected places, with both protagonists having a degree of naivety or innocence about them. Tristan is naive having never set foot outside of Wall, while Yvaine has seen mankind suffer and flourish from afar but never been close enough to completely understand them. Their relationship is the meeting of two worlds in understanding and harmony, and the final act is very heartwarming.

The screenwriters deserve credit in this regard for maintaining the agency of the female characters, something which fantasy cinema has often struggled to do. Yvaine may spend much of her time trying to escape imprisonment, but she is ultimately resourceful and independent, and ends up saving Tristan's life. Likewise, Pfeiffer's witch is cunning, ambitious and strives to get what she wants under her own steam rather than expecting others to do it for her. This makes the final confrontation between the two more potent and gives the film something of a unique identity.

Stardust is a very enjoyable family fantasy which compensates for its shaky start with a growing sense of heart and a lot of good-natured laughter. It's hardly the most ground-breaking or original work, nor is it a candidate for the best Gaiman adaptation. But it deserves a lot of praise for the elements which do come together, and which result in a film which is genuinely for everyone.

Super Reviewer

August 26, 2007
Magical fantasy movie with an excellent cast. Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeffier play brilliant characters. Tristan wants to catch a falling star for his beloved. More mature than Hocus Pocus but along similar lines.
Market Man
Market Man

Super Reviewer

October 21, 2012
When fantasy is done right it can be truly amazing. Unfortunately, "Stardust" falls victim to bad visuals and a silly story. I actually didn't finish watching this because I was so incredibly bored by the uninteresting plot, subplots, and characters. So yes, the credibility of this review is lost because I didn't watch the entire film; what I did see is mostly terrible.
Wildaly M

Super Reviewer

September 2, 2007
Average fantasy film for the kids. There's better out there though.

Super Reviewer

August 5, 2010
A really good fantasy film! Matthew Vaughn has yet to make a film I haven't liked.

Super Reviewer

October 1, 2010
This extremely average tale about a falling star which has princes, witches, and normal people on route of finding. All for different reasons, they must reach the falling star to become kings, look younger, and get the girl of their dreams. Turns out, the falling star is a person who has feelings for a human man who is in pursuit to bring her to his true love s a birthday gift. The tables turn magnificently throughout this film and it is a great fantasy adventure, but the tone is off and the pacing is far too slow. I enjoyed the plot, being original, faithful, and a great contribution to the romance/fantasy genre of it's time. This is in no way a poor film, in fact, it's rather good, but there is nothing here that had me wanting to applaud. Stardust is just another film I had fun with, but will eventually forget about in years to come.
Thomas J

Super Reviewer

February 2, 2008
Great fantasy movie. What I enjoyed most is the characters are not typical for this type movie. It was refreshing and fun. Even though it was predictable, the journey to the end was a thrill for me!

Super Reviewer

June 19, 2011
Stardust is a flawless fantasy film that is filled with adventure. Brilliantly directed by Matthew Vaughn, Stardust is a phenomenal film that the whole family can enjoy. I thought Stardust was a wonderful, entertaining film. Matthew Vaughn has crafted a totally different film from his directorial debut, Layer Cake, and he succeeds in creating something truly satisfying. Vaughn has worked previously on many other films, most notably on Guy Ritchie's gangster films, but with Stardust he shows he can adapt to a totally different genre of film. Vaughn is a phenomenal director, and Stardust is a superbly crafted fantasy with romance and comedy. Stardust is a dazzling feast for the eyes with awesome special effects. The story is fairly simply, but is always captivating and fun, its slow at first but it steadily picks up and is thoroughly entertaining. One of the reasons that the film works well is the excellent cast at hand. Matthew Vaughn has assembled a fine bunch of actors here and they all deliver on screen. Stardust is a fun, action packed comedy fantasy that has romance and everything else you'd expect from a fantasy film. In my opinion, Stardust is severely underrated and shouldn't be overlooked the way it has been. For fans of Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings or any other fantasy story or film, Stardust is a yet another phenomenal gem that if you're lucky, you'll watch it for the first time, and enter a world of wonders. But if you're luckier still, you'll revisit this splendid film again and again.
Alexis N

Super Reviewer

December 6, 2010
This film had been sitting in front of my tv for awhile, I was never in a rush to watch it. But I finally did and I loved it. The band of characters is amazing, it's magical, sweet, romantic and beyond entertaining.
Lewis C

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2007
"What do stars do? They shine."

Sky pirates. Blood-thirsty (actually, heart-hungry) witches. Fallen stars. Murderous princes. Action, humor, and all the romance that anyone should require. Stardust is an entertaining fantasy adventure film that has it all, and should appease any fan of the genre.

Matthew Vaughn's second directorial effort is quite different from the work he did before and after it (the excellent Layer Cake and Kick-Ass, respectively), and it proves that he can make a good movie in nearly any genre. This adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel of the same name follows our young hero Tristan (Charlie Cox) as he follows a falling star to another world, in order to bring it back as a gift for the woman he wants to marry.

It's not that simple of course, as Tristan finds the star to be not a mere celestial rock, but a young woman (Claire Danes). A very uncooperative young woman, and one who is also being sought by three witch sisters and a prince, who all wish to kill her for her immortal heart. As you can probably guess, that scenario has adventure written all over it.

Stardust has a very definite Princess Bride vibe. If that movie's mix of action, humor, romance, and colorful characters (Robert De Niro has a ball as a rather unique pirate, and Michelle Pfeiffer and Ricky Gervais also steal every scene they're in) appealed to you, then you're in luck. I honestly can't come up with many reasons why someone wouldn't like this, unless you're just not a fan of Gaiman's book or the genre as a whole. I found it to be charming and fun.
Ken S

Super Reviewer

June 27, 2007
Cute, but I was underwhelmed. Its no Princess Bride. Worth it just to see DeNiro as Captain Shakespeare.

Super Reviewer

January 28, 2010
This is a great movie!
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

December 30, 2009
I'd heard nothing but bad things about this fantasy film and I feared that Matthew Vaughn had tried to make his own Princess Bride, something that I though was odd considering his CV. It's good to be wrong, Stardust was quite good, after a shaky start, the film got quite exciting and thoroughly enjoyable. I can't wait for Vaughn's Kick-Ass now, he has proved that he's more than just a producer of second rate British gangster films anyway!
Jens S

Super Reviewer

August 20, 2007
While I fear the audience is slowly getting tired of fantasy films after books this is another highlight of the genre. While the first half of the movie feels somewhat bumpy in direction and editing at times, the rest is pretty perfect (I am saying this without having read the book, mind you). Sure, not every joke works as good as the many really great ones (special points to Robert DeNiro and Ricky Gervais), and not all effects look as good as the neat camera rides and gorgeous landscape shots. But newbie Charlie Cox makes for a really charming and likable main character, there is plenty of magic, fun and humor, a good soundtrack and a pretty exciting showdown as well as great villains. You have to admire Michelle Pfeiffer for her guts to ridicule the beauty mania and ageism she became a victim of in Hollywood. Very lovable and satisfying all around. Maybe even for the new millennium what Princess Bride was for the 80s.

Super Reviewer

September 4, 2007
I love this movie its a lovely magical adventure which is romantic, funny exciting, butt clenching and just a fantastic movie that is for everyone!
robert de niro is fantastic in this part and makes me love he even more!
Its about a boy he thinks hes in love with this girl and for her bday hes promised to get her star thats just fallin from the sky but what he thinks is just an easy pick up turns into running from witches brothers and befriending pirates and finding real love !
This movie is really worth a watch!
Nani V

Super Reviewer

December 22, 2007
A great fantasy film with an actual good story line that kept me interested.
Mark H

Super Reviewer

June 8, 2008
Absorbing fantasy about a young man in search of a fallen star he promises to bring back to win the heart of his true love. Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn's script is breathtaking in its ability to masterfully weave multiple storylines in creating an otherworldly universe that will delight, amuse and enchant.

Super Reviewer

May 8, 2009
While not a perfect film, or even a standard bearer for the fantasy genre, this film has a wondrous, offbeat humor that helps support a tired tale that does manage a few surprises.

Michelle Phieffer is wonderful as the witch who chases after the star (Claire Danes, who also holds her own here), although I question her continued use of magic, knowing that it ages her; when the reason she wants the star is to prevent herself from ageing. You would have thought her to be a bit more judicious in using her powers, but she doesn't hesitate at every opportunity - perhaps power corrupts?

A fabulous narration, full of British wit, by Sir Ian McKellen, only adds to a gleefully dark cameo by Sir Peter O'Toole - how many films of this class can claim two British sirs? Robert DiNiro does a splendid turn as the pirate captain/ drag queen. His amused, enamored glance at the foppish Humphrey (the early rival for the main charactor in garnerning the affections of a self absorbed, vapid Victoria) is just another example of a throwaway line that elevates this movie above the norm.

The climatic battle scene in the witches' lair fell kind of flat, but otherwise I found this very entertaining.
Phil H

Super Reviewer

September 7, 2007
This is very strange indeed, I gotta be honest, I didn't follow the plot atall haha I lost it not far in, and the film is waaay too long, boring Im afraid. There's a great cast but thats it, the plot is confusing, the effects are basic and it all seems very much like 'The Adventures of Baron Muchausen'. It tries too hard and seems like they're just trying to get as many big names in the film as possible, overated.
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