Stardust Review

by Homer Yen (homer_yen AT yahoo DOT com)
August 19th, 2007

"Stardust" - A Fair Fairy Tale
by Homer Yen
(c) 2007

Plenty may doom this fantasy vehicle at the box
office, but if that were to happen, it wouldn't
be the fault of the actors. Blame it on the
incomprehensible trailer that positions this more
as a special-effects-laden adventure rather than
a sweet romance, which is what it really is.
Blame it on the various detours that the film
takes in this
way-too-many-characters-to-keep-track-of story
(when stars Charlie Cox and Claire Danes probably
could've shouldered the load). Blame it on the
occasional spikes in dramatic overkill when love
was all they needed. But give it a chance, and
for the right person, your wish may come true.

The film focuses on the jittery shopboy, Tristan
(Cox). Now, in any film where the lead character
is named Tristan, there will be this inevitable
sense of weakness about him. It's no different
here. And while he has his gaze firmly fixed on
the snooty Victoria (Sienna Miller), he is unable
to capture her attention. However, on a night
when they both see a falling star land in the
near distance, Tristan summons up his courage by
declaring that he will travel to that fallen star
and bring it back as a token of his love for her.
Victoria, ever the slyly coy temptress, gives
Tristan one week to make good on his promise.

The star has landed in an enchanted area, which
is separated from Tristan's countryside by a long
wall. No one is allowed to cross, but when
Tristan ventures over there, he'll see things
that he's never seen before, feel things that
he's never felt before, and do amazing things
that he's never done before. It is a journey
where he'll start off as a boy but will graduate
into a leading man.

In the enchanted land, you get your array of
magical and mystical hodgepodge. At the center
of it all is the star itself, which actually
turns out to be a beautiful girl named Yvaine
(Danes) who glows when happy. It's fortunate
that Tristan finds her first. There are others
in the land that would do her harm. That would
include Septimus (Mark Strong) who wants to eat
her heart in order to guarantee his immortality
when he eventually ascends to the throne of this
enchanted land. More nefarious, though, is the
400-year old wicked witch Lamia (Michelle
Pfeiffer) who wants to eat her heart to ensure
youthful looks. Actually, since both want to eat
her heart, it's hard to say who's more nefarious,
although Lamia has many gruesome spells at her

The real tragedy, though, is that the heart of
the film has been eaten away by ideas that make
the feel of the film seem disjointed. There are
elements that are oddly Vaudevillian, pertaining
to a chorus of ghosts that look on as events
transpire. There are conventional moments of
romantic tension when you really hope that
Tristan and Yvaine find themselves giddily in
each other's arms. There are moments of bizarre
levity, thanks to Robert DeNiro's
reputation-be-damned turn as a cross-dressing

"Stardust" is a film that you'll enjoy here and
there, with adorable charm occurring more often
than not. But it's unfortunately cluttered and
unfocused at times. Certainly, the film had more
miles that it could've gotten out of it. It has
its share of the fantastical. The lead players
bring energy to their roles. Definitely, it's
not as cohesive as, say, "The Princess Bride" and
not as absorbing as, say, "Pan's Labyrinth".
Nonetheless, with its ever-present sweetness and
tale of magical adventure, it etches itself ably
into the pantheon of big-screen fairy tales.

Grade: B

S: 1 out of 3
L: 0 out of 3
V: 2 out of 3

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