I went to see the movie “Stardust” the other day and well, I wish I could be more enthusiastic and excited about it; it’s stuck somewhere between “didn’t completely suck” and “almost decent.”
You can't tell, but right now I'm making a sad puppy dog face!
Don’t get me wrong or anything I liked it just fine, it was sweet and amusing and nicely done, but…I don’t know. I just can’t seem to put my finger on why I didn’t love it. It’s certainly colorful enough and clever enough and jam-packed enough with great actors and all sorts of fantastical CG wonders to gawk at.
“Stardust” is based on the illustrated novel/novella/graphic novel/comic or something by Neil Gaiman that takes us to the mystical land of Stormhold, where stars walk, ships fly, and dead people never go away.
SideNote: the movie was offered to director Terry Gilliam (Time Bandits) – who reportedly turned it down because he was burnt out on fantasy films having just finished “The Brothers Grimm”.
It just seems like the wrong time for it, this movie just screams winter release to me. You know that time period between Thanksgiving and Christmas that's usually the time these type of films to pop up- like “Lord of the Rings” and “Narnia”.
The story (and brace yourself there are several) is about a young man, named Tristan who goes in search of a shooting star in order to win the heart of a pretty girl named Victoria. Sounds kooky I know but if getting it for her means he can get a shot at Victoria, dag-na-bit he'll do it! So anyway, Tristan does in fact discover a shooting star. A bon-a-fide living, breathing, talking fully dressed star named Yvaine, played by Claire Danes! So he captures Vainer, and ties her up to take back to his girlfriend.
Nothing says lovin’ like the gift of a kidnapped injured woman!
Meanwhile, back in his hometown, the King is dying. The King, tells his 3 sons who are all dying (literally) to become the next king that the one that will be crowned the next king must find the remains of a falling star and…oh, you can probably figure out the rest right?
The King had 7 sons, but 4 of them are dead. We see them periodically in all of their gory glory as ghosts.
But wait there's yet another group of people that want the falling star's remains as well. Three old, nasty looking witches, the main one named Lamia played by Michelle Pfeiffer. They want the falling star so that they can eat her heart out (also literally) and sap her youth and beauty with a fresh injection of her stardust.
Youth-I can believe. Beauty-err, not so much. I mean c’mon this is Claire Danes we’re talking about!
So, by the end of the story, who will have possession of Yvaine? Will Tristan bring Victoria's prize back safe and sound and win her hand in marriage? Who will be the new King of Stormhold? Will the three evil witches achieve eternal youth and beauty? And what the heck else will go on in this odd, somewhat quirky fairy tale?
What I did like about "Stardust" was its ability to make us accept that Stockholm is basically split down the middle with a "real" world on one side and a "fantasy" world on the other.
There isn't any of that "Oh, my gosh stuff” where the human characters are absolutely dumb-stuck by the fact that there is a magical world. And the times where "weird" things happen (witches brew, pirate ships fly, spells are cast, people turn into goats and unicorns replace horses) they just …happen. Basically, the flick doesn't dwell on the weird things. The weird things just occur and you just have to accept them.
That being said, now what I didn’t like about the movie (and truthfully it's actually something that just can't be avoided) is that it takes a little too long to get the 3 intertwining stories going.
And again, it's kind of unavoidable since there are so many characters and we have to get to know them to care about the story, but you just wish there was a way to get it moving along!
The thing is I don't know how you do that here. I don't know what could have been cut, moved, or changed around for the betterment of the movie. But then now that I stop and think about it, why should I, the audience be thinking this stuff anyway-isn’t that what a good editor is hired for?!
And then there's the violence. "Stardust" isn't a gore-a-thon or hack and slash flick or anything but the violence we do get is kind of surprising considering the overall light-heartedness of the story.
When people and things get killed, they freakin’ suffer! A character gets stabbed and it's disturbing. Animals get ripped apart. Ferret entrails get read, goats are turned into men for goodness sakes so you know there is definite cruelty here!
It's great stuff, but I'm really surprised there hasn't been more controversy about it. People and animals have always died in fairy tales and fairy tale movies, but I can't remember any that featured someone’s throat being slit in a bathtub and left to die bleeding to death. (It was blue blood and not red, but the effect but nonetheless was still shocking. Even Hitchcock would be speechless.)
Some of the effects seem out of place at times for example and this one’s kind of a spoiler but I can’t think of a way to work around it, so look away if you care. There is one scene towards the end of the movie that has a witch turning Tristan into a mouse, and then later turns him back into a human and then just simply lets him go- I mean c’mon what was the point then except to show a cool fantasy scene, without bothering to make any impact or sense?
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All the actors were great here and everyone seemed to be having a really excellent time.
Michelle Pfeiffer was outstanding as Lamia the evil witch queen. The mere fact that Pfeiffer let herself be seen in such an ugly nasty way as she does here is worth the price of a ticket people!
Throughout the movie we see her alternate from droopy boobs to perky nips and vice versa, as she uses more and more of her magic.
Well you know what they say “what nourishes me also destroys me”.
Charlie Cox is likable as Tristan, the young guy in love. The more you see him the more you want him to succeed. Claire Danes is ok as Yvaine, the falling star and you spend most of the movie wondering why Tristan doesn't want her instead.
But I can’t give Danes too much credit however because she acted it much the same way she acted in 1996’s “Romeo+ Juliet.”
I must say, it seems like Danes is pretty much over herself at this point in her career as well. It may seem like I am picking on her but I don’t care I’m doing it anyway! Listening to her botch up an English accent as it tended to come and go at random was painful and distracting. I wonder why they had her do an accent in the first place. Her character isn’t from England, so it wasn’t really necessary for her to try and sound like she is! Weird.
And the expression she wears throughout "Stardust," is stuck between a grimace and a cringe. One reviewer described it perfectly “It's the face of a maiden caught taking out the garbage.”
The biggest “surprise” of them all is Robert DeNiro as Captain Shakespeare. I say “surprise” because even though I went in knowing he was in this movie, by the time he showed up I had totally forgotten about him! But it was well worth the wait my friends; it completely amazed me how funny he was (I love DeNiro but let’s face it; his comedic attempts have been somewhat iffy) by going all prancy Jack Sparrow on us!
I don’t want to say anything more, but let’s just say I think Mr. DeNiro was having, well, a gay old time and really took the term fairy tale to heart.
SideNote: I wonder if his Captain Shakespeare role was written specifically for him because his character was not part of the book at all!
As you can see it brings too much of everything to the table. There’s a heck of ot of things going on in “Stardust”! It’s a hodge-podge of a lil’ bit of “Time Bandits” here, a dash of “Pirates of the Caribbean” there and a smidgen of Monty Python, but unfortunately these ingredients do not equal out to a tasty witches brew.
-Sarah Michelle Gellar turned down the role of Yvaine (Claire Danes) in order to spend more time with her husband (Freddie Prince Jr.).
- Robert DeNiro’s character, Captain Shakespeare wasn’t in the book at all, the Hollywood people made him up.
-Terry Gilliam was offered the job of directing the movie, but having just finished “The Brothers Grimm” (2005), he turned it down because he wanted a break from fairy tales.
-Release prints were delivered to theaters with the fake title 'Rusty'.
-This isn’t the first time Michelle Pfeiffer has played a witch. She played one back in 1987 in “The Witches of Eastwick.”