The phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover” can be interpreted various ways, depending on the topic in which it’s being used; however, the most literal sense simply means, just because something may look bad, or uninviting on the outside, doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll find on the inside. That same phrase can be changed up a bit and have the same impact when referring to movies, for instance, “Don’t judge a film by its trailer” or “Don’t judge a film by its advertisements.” Sure, this could lead you to viewing a handful of bad movies that you may have otherwise avoided, but at the same time, there’s a chance that you’ll find a magical hidden gem of a film that you would have otherwise missed.
This is the scenario I found myself in with Stardust, a film that was released in 2007 that just seemed like another fantasy adventure film to go along with the flood of others that were hitting the marketplace thanks to the huge success of Harry Potter. The film struggled to find an audience in North America, and it took the overseas market for the film to recuperate its production costs. The thing is, with so many mediocre fantasy films attempting to cash in during this hot time for the genre, it’s hard to find the ones that stand out above the rest, without them getting lost in mix. Stardust is one of those casualties, as it’s a wonderfully told fairy tale adventure filled with love, magic, betrayal and friendship.
It tells the story of Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) who is attempting to win the heart of his true love, Victoria (Sienna Miller) before she marries her arrogant suitor, Humphrey (Henry Cavill). They all live in a small countryside town that borders a magical land. The thing is, nobody knows this is a magical land, all they know is that they aren’t suppose to cross over a wall that separates the one side of the field from the other side, and that it’s guarded by an elderly man who’s been keeping people from passing for 80 years.
One evening when Tristan is out with Victoria, trying to persuade her to marry him instead, they see a falling star. To show just how much she means to him, Tristan proclaims that he will find that star and bring it back to her in exchange for her hand in marriage. Victoria agrees, though gives him only a week to complete his quest; and thus Tristan sets off to enter the forbidden magical land to retrieve the star, though the journey quickly turns into one of self-discovery and survival in a dangerous world that he never knew existed.
There’s just so much that can be said about Stardust, and yet, words almost do it no justice. Claire Danes, who plays the fallen star Yvaine, is the leading lady of the film, and literally lights up the screen whenever she’s present. Yvaine meets Tristan when he arrives to claim the star as his prize. He’s taken back by the fact that it’s an actual woman, yet, in fairy tales, reality is suspended, and he barely questions it before wrapping a magical chain around her wrist and telling her that she must come back with him so he can present her to his true love. The two have great chemistry, and they fit the lead roles extremely well.
Other characters involved in the story are Lamia, an evil which played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who is out to capture the fallen star for her and her wicked sisters. You see, by killing a star and eating its heart, one is able to remain youthful, and the brighter the star is shining when the kill takes place, the longer the effect will take place. Pfeiffer is perfect in the role, and really mixes evil with comedy quite well, while keeping the part believable. Also playing a strong supporting role is Captain Shakespeare, played by Robert De Niro. Shakespeare is downright hilarious, and De Niro is superb, especially if you don’t know what his character traits are. The less said about him, the better, and funnier, things will be, but he’s without a doubt a scene stealer, and maybe the most memorable character in the film.
The film is written and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass) and looks spectacular. The world truly seems epic, and the scenery shots are gorgeous. He really captures the majestic feel that the film requires, and it helps bring the story to a level that it could have easily missed with a lesser director.
Stardust, simply put, is a can’t miss fairy tale that will fill you with a sense of joy while watching it. It’s filled with many laugh out loud moments, and characters that you’ll want to visit again and again. It’s a truly original story, and while it may seem like a children’s story, in my opinion it’s a film aimed at a more young adult audience. The story and comedy is much more mature than the premise may let on, though it hits all the notes so well, that adults with a sense of adventure and imagination should definitely not let this one pass by.
The video is shown in MPEG4/AVC 1080p, and looks fantastic. It’s crisp, clean, with beautiful tones throughout that really give the film a fairy tale, fantasy vibe. The colours are vibrant, and the picture really shines, with no points that detract from the experience. The audio is a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, and it sounds fantastic, with massive pieces of the epic soundtrack blasting out during points of the film where we’re suppose to go where the music takes us. It truly sounds fantastic, and a big thumbs up goes out to the audio/video department with this transfer.
Commentary by Writer/Director Matthew Vaughn & Writer Jane Goldman – There are certain commentaries that are worth listening to just because of who’s involved. Hearing Matthew Vaughn’s take on the film, and various aspects is something fans of both the film, and his, will relish.
Crossing the Wall: The Making of Stardust – This featurette is broken up into five mini-features, each focusing on a different aspect of the making-of process: Casting, Screenplay, Location and Special Effects. Combine, the featurette almost hits an hour, and is quite informative, and much more than one may have expected from a film that didn’t reach the potential the studio hoped for.
Nothing is True… – This featurette is about 10 minutes long, and features behind the scenes footage with the filmmakers.
There’s also 5 Deleted Scenes, as well as a Blooper Reel, and the Theatrical Trailer to keep you entertained, just in case the above wasn’t enough.
What more can I say about Stardust other than go out and see this movie now. It’s a fun-filled adventure that kids will likely enjoy, but I truly believe is best viewed if you’re a young adult or higher. It’s a wonderfully told fairy tale that never got the credit it deserved, and if you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to pick it up at your earliest convenience.
Paramount Pictures presents Stardust. Directed by: Matthew Vaughn. Starring: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro. Written by: Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman. Running time: 127 minutes. Rating: PG. Released on Blu-ray: Sept. 3, 2010.
Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.