Star Spotting fun in Stardust
"Stardust" is a fantasy movie, a traditional bit of fairytale style escapism where we are whisked to a magical land and taken on a quest. Now for some I am sure that sounds like fun especially as being a fairytale also has the prerequisite love story but for me it leaves me numb. Not even a stellar cast which includes Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Claire Danes makes me any more interested. All of which I can put down to the fact that as a child I didn't get into the whole fantasy fairytale thing and now as an adult it means nothing to me. But for those who did I am sure were find the magic on show in "Stardust" all good fun.
Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) is loved up; his only trouble is that love of his life Victoria (Sienna Miller - Layer Cake) is not interested in the working class young man. That is until they spot a falling star which lands in the forbidden country of Stormhold and desperate to win her affections the foolish Tristan promises that he will go through the wall and into Stormhold to bring her back the star. But his quest for the star is an amazing one and he's not the only one after the falling star as there are witches and Princes also after the star for there own dark reasons.
Story wise "Stardust" is adapted from the illustrated novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, something which I haven't read or even glanced at and so can't tell you how faithful it is. But what is for certain is that "Stardust" is a fairytale, not for young children but for teens and early twenty something's as it blends a romantic storyline with that of an adventure into a magical world. The reason that I say it's not for children is because "Stardust" most definitely has a darker side, there are gruesome deaths and a long string of dark, adult orientated humour which will go right over the heads of younger audiences.
But the thing is that whilst "Stardust" is a fairytale for older audiences at its heart it isn't that different to other fairytale movies. The adventure we watch young Tristan go on is laced with expected danger and whilst the search for a falling star is quite clever the romantic storyline that ties into it isn't that surprising. Even the additional storylines from the Princes in search of a necklace so that one of them can become King and the witches wanting the heart of the falling star so that they can feel young again doesn't feel that special. But that is for me, someone who just doesn't get caught up in these magical fairytale stories, where as someone who grew up on fairytale adventures will probably find it more enjoyable.
Where it does score points with me is within all the dark humour. The ghostly brothers of Secundus are amusing as they watch their brother on his quest to find the necklace and the nagging between Yvaine and Tristan is also full of clever witty barbs. Not all the comedy works and the whole series of scenes which feature Robert de Niro and also those with Ricky Gervais seem to forced, overly manufactured to deliver laughs yet not completely in fitting with the actual movie.
And what also works for me is the casting although I have to say that whilst I found the performances entertaining they did nothing to make the actual storyline any more interesting. So whilst Michelle Pfeifer is darkly fun as Lamia and Robert de Niro is over the top amusing as Captain Shakespeare it's a case of fun performances but didn't care for what their characters meant to the storyline. Even when it came down to Claire Danes as Yvaine and Charlie Cox as Tristan Thorn I enjoyed the characters they created but just couldn't get interested in the actual story.
What is impressive is the number of stars who actually appear be it in major roles such as Rupert Everett as Secundus and Peter O'Toole as the King through to minor ones such as Dexter Fletcher as a Skinny Pirate, David Walliams as Sextus and the always amusing David Kelly as the wall guard. It is a case of watching and suddenly recognizing someone in a role be it big or large and there is a certain amount of fun to be had by star spotting.
But I have to give director Matthew Vaughn credit because whilst the storyline didn't do it for me "Stardust" is a magical experience. The land of Stormhold, the lightning catching air ship, the various characters and sets are all wonderful visual creations. You can easily get lost in all the visual splendour on show which for me was a good thing.
What this all boils down to is that "Stardust" just didn't do it for me. It's by no means a bad movie and those who enjoy magical fairytale movies which have adventure and romance will probably enjoy it more than I did. But the storyline despite being imaginative just didn't really capture my attention and although I enjoyed the performances from the cavalcade of stars they didn't help make the storyline anymore interesting. But between the dark humour and the magical land of Stormhold "Stardust" still manages to entertain.