Movie Review: Stardust

The “illustrated novel” by Neil Gaiman and Charlie Vess has been adapted into a summer blockbuster. Is it worth a trip through the gap in the wall?

The book by Neil Gaiman and Charlie Vess may be purchased Amazon.com and
Amazon.ca

Title: Stardust

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Matthew Vaughn.

Writers: Neil Gaiman and Jane Goldman.

Cast:

Charlie Cox as Tristran
Claire Danes as Yvaine
Michelle Pfeiffer as Lamia
Sienna Miller as Victoria
Robert De Niro as Captain Shakespeare
Mark Strong as Septimus
David Kelly as Guard
Melanie Hill as Ditchwater Sal
Kate Magowan as Una
Peter O’Toole as the King
Ian McKellen as Narrator

Full Cast and Crew

Premise:

Three quests intersect. A young man crosses to a magical realm to find a fallen star and impress the woman he thinks he loves. A trio of evil witches seeks the same fallen star in order to prolong their lives. Finally, the succession to the royal throne will be determined when one of the princes can bring back a jewel currently in the star’s possession.

High Point:

De Niro’s turn as Captain Shakespeare is the highlight. The first scene in his cabin provides the movie’s only real surprise, and should have you laughing. More of the movie needed to play this way.

Low Point:

I could wave my hand at the overuse of the deus ex machina until the climax, where a particular felt unnecessary and cheesy.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6. The film has been adapted, with modifications, from the illustrated novel which has already appeared in two forms, and which was built from familiar elements of myth and faerie tale.

Story: 4/6. I enjoyed the story, but I could predict nearly every development from considerable distance.

Effects: 6/6.

Acting. 5/6. Pfeiffer finds the perfect tone for her character and this film. De Niro stands out among several impressive smaller roles. The leads were good, though not great. I think Clair Danes may have been a better choice for a role reportedly first offered to Sarah Michelle Gellar, though Gellar has experience with smartassed bickering.

Production: 6/6. The film features the expected combination of impressive location shooting and CGI effects.

Emotional Response: 4/6. Stardust features the familiar tropes of the faerie tale, and some adult references and frightening imagery. It’s Neil Gaiman, and not for the youngest or most faint-hearted children.

Overall: 5/6. The film recalls a little The Princess Bride, with superior budget and effects but not nearly the wit and heart.

In total, Stardust receives a score of 33/42.

6 replies on “Movie Review: Stardust”

  1. Fozzy_Bear says:

    Princess Bride???
    Well, after seeing one preview for Stardust, I was on the fence about shelling out Theater Price to see it (was probably gonna see it on DVD) But if "The Princess Bride" is the reference used by somebody who has seen it (allbeit a well qualified reference) then it just went to "Gotta See" on my list.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: Princess Bride???

      (albeit a well qualified reference) then it just went to "Gotta See" on my list.

      Very qualified, but I think they were going for something like that, and in the film’s best moments, they achieve it. However, it’s not nearly on the same level.

  2. chad says:

    Movies rarely as good as the books
    After reading the book, which was outstanding, I’m not sure how they can translate it onto the big screen and have it be as good as the book.

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    • y42 says:

      Book ALWAYS better than the movie.

      After reading the book, which was outstanding, I’m not sure how they can translate it onto the big screen and have it be as good as the book.

      Not having read the book, nor seen the movie, I am 100% sure they can’t translate a abook to the movies and have it be as good.

      It’s never been done.

      • fiziko says:

        Re: Book ALWAYS better than the movie.

        Not having read the book, nor seen the movie, I am 100% sure they can’t translate a abook to the movies and have it be as good.

        It’s never been done.

        To my knowledge, the book has been improved upon twice. (Keep in mind, I used to work at a theater, and took it upon myself to read the novels that inspired the movies every possible time; we’re looking at two examples out of hundreds, so the success rate is extremely low.) Those two cases are Forrest Gump (which was about a wrestling idiot savant sent on a secret NASA mission as a backup in case the computer failed, who was kidnapped by cannibals, rescued by marines, and used by his high school girlfriend) and Get Shorty (which had some of the worst editing I’ve ever seen; I couldn’t finish it.)

        Other "adaptations" can have arguments made for them, but the only ones I can think of are cases such as The Running Man and Blade Runner, both of which were so liberally adapted that they barely count as adaptations. Well, you probably couldn’t argue for The Running Man, but you could argue for Blade Runner.

        I guess I’m only arguing the absolute nature of "Book ALWAYS better than the movie." Stick the word "almost" in there (possibly more than once) and you’ll get no argument from me.

        • Timeshredder says:

          Re: Book ALWAYS better than the movie.
          I would agree, the book is generally better, but often, the movie is different than the book.

          The Last Picture Show is impressive as a novel, but the movie is at least as good and improves, at least, the story by eliminating some elements of the book which seem far-fetched, more like someone’s fantasies about teenhood than reality.

          As for Stardust the film makes some key changes. It’s probably best to judge it on its own merits.

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