"Stardust" shines

Aug. 13, 2007, midnight | By David Zheng | 14 years, 2 months ago

Stellar fantasy provides a magical escape from reality

Conniving witches and flying pirates, treacherous princes and a captive princess, a fallen star and an unlikely hero - "Stardust" has it all. A tale of finding true love, adapted from Neil Gaiman's fantasy novella of the same name, enchants viewers with a wonderful balance of humor, romance and adventure.

When goodhearted shop boy Tristan (Charlie Cox) sets out on a quest to retrieve a fallen star so he can win the love of beautiful and conceited Victoria (Sienna Miller), he finds that his journey takes him from the English village of Wall to the magical world of Stormhold. Tristan discovers that the fallen star has taken the form of a young, irritable woman, Yvaine (Claire Danes), but finds out that three evil witches also seek the star maiden. Led by Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), the witches wish to sacrifice Yvaine and restore their youth and power. Add the star jewel-searching sons of a dying king (Peter O'Toole) and a bona fide fantasy journey begins.

Photo: Michelle Pfeiffer plays Lamia on race to find a fallen star. Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

Although the multiple storylines seem like a mess, director Matthew Vaughn skillfully cuts back and forth among the several parties as they get closer to achieving their goals. The approach sorts through the clutter and keeps up the fast-paced action. The many storylines never stumble across each other and they end up weaving together flawlessly. "Stardust" is slightly hurt by its length, but, in between the swordfights, sorcery and romance, viewers likely will not notice.

"Stardust" is enhanced by its spectacular cast. Although Danes overdoes her role of naïve innocence, she and Cox have delightful chemistry from beginning to end, and Pfeiffer's indulgence in her evil side spellbinds the audience with a perfect mix of malevolence and guile. But it is De Niro steals the show with a brilliant performance as a cross-dressing pirate.

Despite cheap special effects that leave more to be had, the sound track, set design and costume design immerses the audience into the fantasy. Rarely does a soundtrack work into a movie as well as Ilan Eshkeri's musical score does; the songs captures the film's emotion perfectly. Together with the sweeping shots and elaborate costumes, these elements meld together to captivate the audience.

While the ending is highly predictable, it does not take away from the film - most of the magic is seeing the character's journeys.

More complex than the average fantasy, "Stardust" is a celebration of storytelling and casts a spell over the audience. Fans of the genre or even people looking for a nice date movie should watch out this imaginative and charming fantasy.

Stardust (128 minutes) is rated PG-13 for some fantasy violence and risqué humor, and is now playing in theaters everywhere.

David Zheng. David Zheng used to live in California but now he is trapped in Maryland. In his spare time, David likes to play sports in general, doze off in front of the computer, watch random movies, and eat ice cream. Although some may disagree, David is … More »

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