Sunday, October 14, 2007

Review: Stardust

I just saw Stardust, the latest movie adaptation of a Neil Gaiman book of the same name.

Summary: Overly frenetic, but lovely, humorous, and romantic all the same.

The synopsis: It's complicated. Suffice to say, there's a boy who's son of normal man and a princess from fairyland. He's in love with a local priss who tolerates him. He goes over into fairyland to retrieve a fallen star as a token of his affection for her. Meanwhile, this star only fell down because it got hit with a flying necklace thrown by a dying king who told his sons that the first one to find and return it would be king. Meanwhile, a bunch of witches set off with their evil magic in pursuit of the fallen star in order to cut out its heart; see, the fallen star is a woman.

And that would be only the first of a whole bunch of "meanwhile"s, which include a cross-dressing captain and his fierce pirate crew, the enslaved princess and her witch captor, and an ever-growing chorus of snarky ghosts.


The only real problem with this film is that it starts too frenetically. The first quarter of the movie is a struggle to keep up with what's happening. (Frankly, I still don't understand the opening scene with the astronomers.)

Some may also be put off with the lack of seriousness of the movie. It has the same dignity as The Princess Bride. And The Princess Bride is an apt comparison for this movie, as it feels something like a cross between Bride and The Chronicles of Narnia.

All of the actors are excellent in their parts. Michelle Pfeiffer gives us a truly evil witch. Robert DeNiro is perfect as the strangely-mannered benevolent pirate captain. Claire Danes, one of my favorite actresses ever since My So-Called Life, plays a fun, temperamental fallen star. Charlie Cox as our hero Tristan, Sienna Miller as the over-sought Victoria, and everyone else are in great form.

The actors and the director give you characters; they may be two-dimensional characters, but they're characters nonetheless. Numerous little looks, nods, or other mannerisms made even the supporting characters assets to the story.

As a fantasy, it starts off a little confusing and too fast, as I mentioned. After that, it's great fun and satisfying. As a visually-rich movie, there are probably dozens if not hundreds of little fun things I missed on first viewing. I'm sure I will have to see it again.

As a comedy, it was often quite funny. But it didn't hold together quite as well as Princess Bride did. The running ghost chorus, kind of like a disgruntled bunch of Hogwart's ghosts which trail around after the action throughout the movie, seemed like a British comedy troupe thrown into a standard American movie. Funny, but sometimes a little jarring.

As a romance, it's right down the middle of the road cliche, but top notch cliche. Boy woos obnoxious girl, boy meets another girl, boy and other girl dislike each other, eventually boy learns the meaning of love. It's all perty and romantic near the end, so bring a date.

Now I have to go back an reread the book to see how it differs.


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