By Clint Morris
“You sort of, glitter now. Is it… Is it normal?”
Now, is our hero Tristan (Charlie Cox) posing the question to his beloved ‘fallen star’ (Clare Danes) or is that an allegorical comment about the film he’s stuck in?
If it’s the latter, he’d be right – “Stardust” is far from normal, and yes, it does glitter; glows, in fact.
Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman (“Sandman”), “Stardust” lights up the night. Where most fantasy films of this day and age fail to even attract light, this one sparkles.
Some will no doubt view the film as merely a riff on Rob Reiner’s fantasy classic “The Princess Bride” (1987), and whilst the films do share similarities, that’s an inequitable assumption. “Stardust” is a fantasy film you haven’t seen.
The film meshes several genres together resulting in a fantastical unconventional movie that’s incontrovertibly not of our world. In fact, the only reason it probably will be compared to “Bride” is because both movies were unlike anything else on release at the time they were released- their shape wouldn’t fit contentedly into any hole; especially this one which entails some science-fiction; some ‘pirate movie’ traits; a dash of Tolkien and some ye’ old romance.
Wonderfully-written, meticulously performed, delicately choreographed and fabulously directed (by Matthew Vaughn, of “Layer Cake” fame), “Stardust” tells of a young man (Cox) who promises his new love (Sienna Miller) that he’ll fetch a ‘fallen star’ that’s crashed on the other side of the fence, for her. The fence, it seems, is a gateway to ‘another world’ – a world of monsters, ghouls, witches, cloud-surfing Pirates and magical gypsy’s – so it’ll be no easy feat. When the boy arrives at the crash site he discovers not so much a star but a young woman (Clare Danes) – she’d be the star – with whom he’s immediately attracted to. He ultimately discovers he’s not the only one who wants to get his hands on the ‘Star’.
Michelle Pfeiffer joins the revelry as an ageing witch who needs the ‘star’ so she can return to looking youthful and attractive; Robert De Niro is a campy Pirate with a heart of gold; Ricky Gervais is the eccentric owner of a shop that sells magical trinkets, spells and the like, and Peter O’Toole plays The King. For once, I’m thinking it was the material that attracted such a great name cast here… not the gold bullions they were paid to do it.
“Stardust” is as wacky as it sounds, but never does it steer so far off course that we can’t relate to the characters or their singular particular plights. Thanks to both a rich and benevolent screenplay, as well as the celestial and brisk performances of its cast – Michelle Pfeiffer is a hoot as the villainness – “Stardust” will have you wrapped around it’s shimmering finger by the time it’s first villain appears. It’s a film that remembers why its medium exists in the first place – to entertain and to supply escapism.
Blu-Ray Details and Extras
The Blu-ray Transfer is far more impressive than the previously released HD-DVD edition – colours are more vibrant, the picture is sharper, and the ‘soft’ issue of that initial release has been fixed.
Extras include a mass of featurettes on the making of the movie, an interview with Gaiman, a blooper reel (not that funny, actually); a featurette on the making of the movie, and a few deleted scenes. A commentary with Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman is the highlight – fun, informative, and near just as enjoyable as the film.