..

STARDUST

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter OíToole, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1. French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: Paramount
Features: See Review
Length: 127 Minutes
Release Date: December 18, 2007

ďHmm, murdered by pirates, a heart torn out and eaten, meet Victoria. Can't quite decide which sounds more fun.Ē

Film ***1/2

For me, a movie like Stardust couldnít have come at a more perfect time. I was just getting back into the fantasy genre, revisiting old favorites such as Dragonslayer and Willow, and watching them made me wonder why such intensely fun fantasy adventures donít get made as much anymore, with the exception of the Lord of the Rings movies. Stardust did nothing short of take me back to my childhood, as it delivered the excitement and thrills of the fantasy adventures I grew up on.

Adapted from the acclaimed illustrated novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, the movie is an inspired cross between The Princess Bride and something from the mind of Terry Gilliam, whose name kept ringing in my mind because of the movieís brilliantly bizarre tone. In fact, there are so many elements going on in this movie, including romance, science fiction, horror and edgy British humor that Stardust ends up being a genre-defying piece of riveting entertainment, compliments of director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake).

So where to begin with the plot? There is so much to cover and Iíll do my best to make sense of it. A lovestruck lad named Tristan (Charlie Cox) plans to win the heart of Victoria (Sienna Miller). One night, Tristan catches the sight of a shooting star, and Victoria tells him that should he capture it and bring it to her, she will dump her other suitor and become his one true love.

But to get the star, Tristan must cross over to the forbidden area of land known as Wall. And when he comes face to face with the fallen star, it turns out to be a beautiful young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes). By now all should seem simple and concluded now that Tristan has found the star/woman to bring to his true love (not to be taken out of context).

However, it turns out that Yvaineís arrival gets attention from an assortment of diabolical characters. The most evil of that bunch is a witch named Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), who plans to cut out Yvaineís heart in order to gain eternal life. And a menacing prince named Septimus (Mark Strong), heir to the throne of Stormhold, needs to retrieve a necklace Yvaine is wearing in order to complete his coronation.

And because of these forces pursuing Yvaine, Tristanís attempt to make it back from Wall, a parallel universe it seems, and that to the real world is more than a challenge. To make matters worse, the two have bad luck in finding help along the way. That is, until they run into a band of sky-flying pirates headed by the flamboyant Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro).

Although Stardust is reminiscent of other fantasy movies, itís arrival in todayís remake and sequel-dominating climate makes it something of an original. And the truth is, this movie delivered more in the realm of sheer, glorious entertainment than any big budgeted release last summer. Itís only too unfortunate the movie couldnít perform highly at the box office than it deserved to. After all, this was indeed a hard film to sell to the mainstream.

In short, Stardust is a delightful piece of movie magic that would amaze just about anyone wishing pure movie fantasy escapism. It goes for broke from beginning to end, plays with different kinds of tones and succeeds in become one of the most outstanding fantasy adventures in a long time. Be prepared to be whisked away by one magically entertaining movie!

Video ****

Paramountís anamorphic presentation of this visually engaging movie is really a sight for the eyes. The image is thoroughly clear and detailed, allowing the visual effects and the breathtaking scenery to be displayed in full glory. Colors look quite phenomenal as well. About the best presentation you could ever hope for a such a movie that really deserves one!

Audio ****

The 5.1 mix packs a real dynamic punch. From beginning to end, Stardust has so much going on in the sound department, whether itís by way of the music score by Ilan Eshkeri, the many scenes of action and effects, or even just the set pieces. Surround sound quality is at a purely high level, thanks to a truly superb sound design. Itís just the right kind of sound treatment that will help in transporting you to the movieís universe. 

Features **1/2

This disc includes a half hour featurette titled ďGood Omens: The Making of StardustĒ, which is quite an informative behind the scenes look, as well as Deleted Scenes and a most hilarious Blooper Reel.

Summary:

There is so much to appreciate in Stardust, apart from the fact that the movie is truly a breath of fresh air in todayís movie climate. Fantasy adventure lovers will have a tremendous movie experience, as well as pretty much anyone curious enough to get lost in a most magical tale!

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from freestats.com