Film Review: Stardust

stardust bigreleaseposter Film Review: Stardust 

Stardust is a magical, hugely entertaining fantasy adventure based on a novel by master storyteller Neil Gaiman.  Gaiman previously wrote the screenplay for the sadly under-seen film Mirror Mask and Stardust is even better.  A big budget adventure teaming with inventive ideas and great acting and storytelling.  Stardust is currently tanking at the box office but nothing can prevent it from being considered a fantasy favorite in the coming years when people discover it for themselves on DVD and cable TV. It evokes memories of the much-loved Princess Bride and is on that level of excellence.

The story is simplicity itself.  It involves a poor but noble young man named Tristan who is in love with a spoiled young woman named Victoria (a vampy pitch perfect performance from tabloid magnet Sienna Miller) who he loves desperately.  One night after finding out she is due to be married, he promises to cross worlds to find a shooting star for her.  If he brings the star back to her before she weds, she promises to marry Tristan instead of her current suitor.  The star turns out to be a young woman played by Claire Danes.  Danes is touching in the role and even does a convincing British accent.  The star is valuable to a gaggle of witches (led in a wonderful performance by Michelle Phieffer) and some squabbling brothers who all want to be king.  There’s even a weird detour with a “macho” pirate played to the hilt by Bobby Deniro and a trader played by a scene-stealing Ricky Gervais.

Stardust is both light and epic.  It has a lot of action and adventure but also has a lot of heart.  Gaiman found the perfect director for his vision.  Matthew Vaughn directed the tiny but taut British crime thriller Layer Cake and he steps up to the big time with Stardust.  It’s a sweeping, entertaingly Stardust may be too odd and adventurous for non-fantasy fans but for me it’s an instant fantasy classic and the biggest surprise of the summer movie season.

Film Grade: A

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