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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy from UIP)

Genre: Fantasy/Science Fiction
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sienna Miller, Ian McKellen, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Peter O'Toole
RunTime: 2 hrs 8 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: PG

Official Website: www.stardustmovie.com

Opening Day: 1 November 2007


Based on Neil Gaiman's novel of the same name, Stardust, follows the adventures of Tristran Thorn, a young man who lives in the village of Wall, located on the borders of Faerie. In order to win her love, Tristran makes a promise to the girl of his dreams, to retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm, where he has to contend with witches, goblins, gnomes, talking animals and evil trees.

Movie Review:

Having obsessed over Neil Gaiman’s quirky fantasy masterpiece Stardust for as long as I could remember, I was understandably over the moon when I caught wind of the fact that this particular literary gem had made it to the big screen and was about to hit our shores soon. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, what started off as eager anticipation in June dragged out to “When is it ever going to arrive?” when the opening failed to happen. By the time October came round, I was so pent up with so much eager frustration that I felt that I couldn’t properly get excited over the main event itself. But arrive at our shores it did, and like a long-neglected lover, I dutifully went ahead with the ride.

So was it all worth it? In a nutshell – yes, yes and yes. While true-blue Gaiman fans may decry the loss of many pivotal events that seemed entirely essential in the novel, Stardust the film won me over in an entire different, albeit still extremely satisfying way. While much has been adapted and condensed in the film, the essentials remain the same. Tristan Thorn (newcomer Charlie Cox) is a young English village boy whose only desire is to win the heart of his true love, Victoria (Sienna Miller). She charges him with the task of retrieving a shooting star, which fell to Earth somewhere beyond the crumbling infrastructure that surrounds their village, Wall. Tristan agrees and embarks on a journey into the unknown, venturing into the magical realm of Stormhold.

In the meantime, a battle for royal succession is taking place in Stormhold between 7 princes, where the king (Peter O’Toole) lies on his deathbed – we also find out that only 3 of those princes are alive when the story begins. The rest tag along on the various adventures their surviving brothers undertake, providing comic relief in the form of a hilarious black-and-white Greek chorus. The star falls to earth and takes on the form of irritable blonde Yvaine (Claire Danes with an inconsistent English accent), understandably annoyed by the fact that she had been knocked out of her home and – to compound matters – had been immediately chained up by Tristan to bring back home as a gift to Victoria.

We also learn that 3 Macbeth-esque witches are after Yvaine – led by the evil Lamia (Michelle Pfeifer), their task is to cut out her still-beating heart and consume it in a bid to preserve their already-unnatural youth. Pfeifer shows admirable comedic timing – in between her evil-magic flourishes, she still manages to be concerned enough over her rapidly-degenerating looks to evoke the occasional twitter or two.

Yvaine decides to stick with Tristan as he turns out to be the best bet to her way home. Understandably, the lad does have much to recommend him at this point in time considering he’s probably the only one who does not want her head. Tristan and Yvaine squabble like a long-married couple all throughout their journey – no love lost there. While this may have been comically touching in the novel, it just translates poorly on-screen, and does not especially endear the shrill and – dare I say - downright crabby Yvaine to the audience.

Along the way, they encounter a pirate ship captained by the fey Captain Shakespeare (Robert de Niro), who not only turns out to be a sweet soul at heart, he also runs some kind of finishing school for wannabe debutantes. Aboard the ship, Tristan makes the transformation from Edwardian geek to Byronian swashbuckler, and Yvaine, well, learns to dance mostly. While de Niro obviously looks like he’s having a lot of fun hamming it up for the role, would-be viewers nevertheless must be warned about an over-the-top campy can-can scene featuring the former Academy Award winner, which would have won my vote for singular worst scene of the year had Hairspray featuring John Travolta in drag not come out first.

Harking back to perennial classics such as The Princess Bride and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Stardust is all at once a whimsical fable of conniving princes, cackling witches, swishy pirates and a not-so-simple village boy who sets out on a quest to win the heart of his true love, only to find that his true love has been standing in front of him all the while. As with most such cinematic epics, Stardust wraps up all its loose ends with a resounding, albeit slightly unbelievable finale that just makes the sappy-hearted in us go “Awwwwwwwwwwww”. Highly recommended indeed.

Movie Rating:

(Swashbuckling fantasy epic with a touch of swish)

Review by Ninart Lui

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