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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful.
By Dr J Carter
Stardust is a delightful retelling of the ethereal lives of stars in the cosmos--forever watching the fleeting loves of humans—stars delight in the human heart. In the central village of Mall, a wall separates fairy from human. This construction separates the two lands, is protected by acrobatic elder watchman, and offers hope to those brave or curious enough to leap the divide. Danger is implicit in the wall—one side is human and fleshy hearted, the other is fairy and brilliant—humans may traverse both sides, stars belong in the firmament. Stardust, starlight, what happens when a star collides with earth? How strong is the human heart? Do stars sleep at day and rise only at night? Intriguing questions answerable in this film.
From a heartwarming tale told by Neil Gaiman, Stardust is a brilliant reminder of hope and lasting affection. Some 'hope' resides in seven knuckle-headed male heirs to a throne and a hefty portion of 'lasting affection' is but centuries old lust for youth at any cost. Still, once the glitter of true love is realised, everything comes right. While the book is triumphant, this film is lusty reminders of just how grand are dreams and love.
Love in any capacity is worth more than greed and narcissism. These truisms are represented cunningly well by: the fashion-minded Captain whose bravery commands camaraderie; even a princess bound by magic rope can make life memorable; the fact "Two-headed dogs...great at watching both ways at once," can be had for a price, and many other characters attest that humour and Love are essential gems. To give away more of the tale would spoil the viewing, but leave it be said: When faced with a choice between paying beforehand for a service or waiting out the final bill, always go with paying last-- it is definitely safer.
j h c
0 of 0 people found the following review helpful.
A Magical Milkshake: Blending High Fantasy with Fairy Tale Tropes
Stardust is perhaps the greatest high fantasy work thus far in the Post-LOTR era. There are other fantasy movies that rank very high, but, in terms of the high fantasy genre, it's beyond reproach. The key to the film's entertainment value and artistic success is that it blends the conventions of its genre with those of larger-scale fairy tales. The narrative is structured around the poetic concept of following a shooting start...but in a very literal sense. A dispute over sovereignty of a magical realm leads to knocking a star out of orbit (it makes far more sense in the film). The star, anthropomorphized and portrayed wonderfully by Claire Danes, becomes the sought after person of interest for a Earthen boy (Charlie Cox), a family of scheming and merciless princes vying for the land's throne, and a triumvirate of witch queens who seek the star's heart to return them to their former power and beauty. I'm making it sound very simple, but their's so much depth and play at work in this very well-polished piece. The fantastic visuals, gorgeous cinematography, and absolutely magnificent score each glisten individually, but they meld together to make a triumphant contribution to fantasy film and what we should expect from filmmakers working in the genre. The script is as concise as it is rich with intrigue and thematic exploration: employing the motifs of a veritable encyclopedia of magical conventions and always imbuing them with beautiful newness. It's exceedingly difficult to make a young man's transition from small-town everyman into romantic-warrior believable, but this film achieves that so well with Charlie Cox's splendidly written and phenomenally acted performance. As I mentioned, their are three major plot-lines that all focus on the Claire Danes's fallen star character, Yvaine. The princes of the land seek the king's necklace, which would give one of them sovereignty over this fable world of Stormhold. Each prince is villainous and willing to kill his brothers for the crown. Mark Strong plays the most intense of the brothers, and his performance, like those of the other brothers, is full of murder contrasted with elements of comedy. The previously discarded princes are cursed to a ghost state until the necklace is claimed, and they provide wonderfully dry comic relief. There are a number of cameo appearance by actors like Rupert Everett, Ricky Gervais, and Peter O'Toole, but, if they are to be defined as cameos, they are the most natural feeling kind of appearances--never detracting from the story but adding to it. Michelle Pfeiffer almost steals the show as Lamia, the most evil and powerful of the three witch queens. Always a consummate professional and rightfully ambitious actress, Pfeiffer's Lamia is an evil mastermind, a cunning warrior, and a villainous sorceress par excellence.
The only real flaw I find in the movie is surprising Robert De Niro's character, a secretly gay air-pirate. The character is written in a way that is hard not to see as willfully parodying gay men. I don't know that I'd call it a homophobic portrayal necessarily, but it does hearken back to foppish stock characters. There is nothing wrong with what we might call a more effeminate gay man, but there is very little by way of plot to suggest validation of the character's true self, choosing rather to make him a long-running gag character (though he is essential to the plot). With the three overlapping quests of Charlie Cox's young hero, the prince fraternity, and the witch sisters, the narrative is able to intersect them is so many different ways--all of which are entertaining and artistically reverent to the fantastic. The film does an excellent job of ranking the threat level by making Lamia's quest more covert, and thus more dangerous to anyone standing in her way. The revelations of the conclusion are so beautifully done and presented in a natural way. It's undoubtedly a fun film, but I'm very proud of its artistic merit. The film never seeks to cash in on those craving fantasy narratives: it only adds richness to the genre.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful. See all 3585 customer reviews...
like most movie adaptations of books
By Carolyn Michael
Compelling main character. Mostly fabulous acting. Interesting concept. A bit hurried, however, like most movie adaptations of books. I have not read the book but would really like to because I am interested to see how many of the flimsier parts of the plot were original and how many were caused by the need to adapt it for screen.
Primary criticisms: [SPOILER ALERT] (1) The villains were a bit wishy-washy. Ruthless and amoral only when convenient. (2) Most of the plot winds up being more convenient than organic. (3) The main character, although compelling and sweet and easy to root for, rarely has to do anything to get himself out of trouble - most of the time it's done for him, or he gets off by sheer, outrageous, extremely unlikely luck (see also: being captured by a cross-dressing, tender-hearted pirate). This makes me wonder what he really has going for him other than being a (albeit rare in this story) decent human being. He certainly doesn't seem very wise, or at least not at the beginning. Glad he's steered in the right direction at the end! But as a hero, he feels a bit weak, especially considering the strength of the villains he's fighting. It is hard to believe his success, which makes him seem less the hero than I hoped he would be. Sometimes I'm not sure if I want him to succeed more because I am against his enemies or more because I like him enough to root for him. (4) She shines the witch to death. She SHINES the witch to death. I have no words.
Overall, I really did like the movie. It's not in the top tier of magnificent Hollywood writing by any means (who can live up to The Princess Bride anyway?), but it was, for the most part, very well acted in spite of this. Many of the characters are very likable (or very dislikable, appropriately), even if it feels like we didn't get to spend enough time with them. The concept of the plot is compelling and it is easy to get invested in hoping for Tristan's success. It's not perfect, but there is plenty about it to enjoy!