In hindsight, it's wasn't a bad investment on Paramount Pictures side to invest $70 million on this loopy warped fairly tale, but rather a bad decision to take a fairly decent, entertaining movie and market it so blandly. Everytime a commercial or preview came on, I just felt this nagging and dishearting feeling that this can't possibly be as dumb as there making it out to be. Thankfully it's not. Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) directs this adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Charlie Vess' novel and spins an endearing and fun piece of cinematic fluff, filled with princes and fallen stars and witches and flying pirates, oh my! There's a sweetness to Stardust, and while the film may not reach the height of fairy tale comedy like The Princess Bride, it's still something slightly different in this dreadful summer of end of trilogy movies-- rest assured that Stardust probably has more creative spark, however disposable, that Spider-man 3, Ocean's Thirteen, and Shrek the Third combined, and lost many stars ago.
The story centers around Tristian (Charlie Cox), a workerbee pining for the beautiful, but contemptious Victoria (Sienna Miller.) As the two picnic in the valley of their village chugging on wine, a shooting star is scene blazing above. As an arrangement to marriage, Tristian declares he will get that star if Victoria's hand be willing; Victoria, ever the indulgent one agrees. As it's soon discovered the star is actually a pretty little lass named Yvaine (Claire Danes.) Complicating matters, Yvaine is also being sought by a nasty little prince Primus (Jason Flemyng) trying to retrieve a family heirloom and cement his kinghood and a brethren of witches lead by Lamia (a wonderfully sinister Michelle Pfeiffer) set on feasting the star's heart and restoring her beauty. While thwarting above said evil-dooers, Tristain and Yvaine start to falls for each other, but like The Princess Bride, the love story is the fun part, it's the machinations and twists of popular texts we've all grown up that make it fun. Nobody really cared the love shared by Westley and Buttercup. Along the way the two meet up with Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro), a flying pirate with a fierce reputation and fabulous secret.
It's a fun film, and sadly one that floundered at the box office, but one I really think will have a second life on DVD-- there's to much to enjoy here, nothing deep, but lot's of enjoyment. The performances work for the most part-- Michelle Pfeiffer is absolutely perfect, famously recalling the last time she was a villian (Batman Returns-- Catwoman would be proud), and puts great umph into all her line readings, you want her to win, despite her evil meglomania complex, and after Hairspray marks the grand return after a sad semi-retirement. Robert De Niro seems far more relaxed her playing it mostly for laughs. Danes and Miller are fine, the only weak link is Cox, who seemed rather emotionless the entire time, he kind of looks bored a lot. But flaws and all, Stardust is a crowdpleasing, swell time. B