Stardust is a love story, just not one you have heard about. Tristan (Charlie Cox) is a young man who lives in the small country town of Wall. The kind of town where nothing particularly spectacular happens. He has hopelessly fallen for Victoria (Sienna Miller) who is currently being pursued by Humphrey (Henry Cavill), the town stud as it were. One night, as Tristan is attempting to woo Victoria with a romantic candlelit picnic, a falling star happens to pass over them and as a statement of true love Tristan vows to retrieve this star to prove his love. However, over the wall, which the town is named for, is a magical land known as Stormhold where the next king is being chosen. In fact, it appears this star was brought down by the kings amulet and the last remaining son will become king. Tristan will truly have to prove his love by fighting off power hunger princes, youth seeking witches, and attempting to reason with a star.
If there is one word to describe this movie, it would undoubtedly be whimsical. Based on the book of the same name written by Neil Gaiman, it tells the story of what true love really is. Our hero, like many, has fallen for someone who quite frankly isn’t quite deserving of our hero. Of course, blinded by his love for Victoria, Tristan goes on this quest to bring back a fallen star. In turn of events, this star is less of a rock and more of women named Yvaine (Claire Daines). Of course hi-jinks ensue as Tristan must protect Yvaine from princes and witches who wish to devour her heart to live forever.
The strength of this movie beyond the story telling is in its cast. First off, you have Ian McKellen as the narrator whose narration skills could probably only be surpassed by Morgan Freeman. Not to mention Mark Strong as the villain, and a villain he plays. Killing his brothers, innocent bystanders, and even at one point aids in killing the leader of the church or at least sort of. Nowadays, it seems villains are the only characters Mark plays, but that’s mostly because he does it so well and this time is no exception. Michelle Pfeiffer plays the other villain, the leader of three witches who are out to eat Yvaine’s heart to gain near immortality. Michelle doesn’t let Mark steal the villain spotlight. Where Mark’s villain bull rushes on, Michelle plays things coy and methodical. Setting up traps and attempting to trick our protagonists to their death. Her portrayal of the witch Lamia is an excellent balance to Mark’s Septimus.
The highlight of the film though comes in the form of Robert DeNiro’s portrayal of Captain Shakespeare. With Robert DeNiro is most well known for his tougher than nails characters often for humorous effect (The Family, Meet the Parents). Stardust switches this dynamic where the character of Captain Shakespeare, a blood thirsty captain who pillages, plunders, and kills with out remorse is just that, a character. The true Shakespeare is a man who abhors violence all together and prefers to spend his energy on cross dressing. Yes, Robert DeNiro plays a homosexual pirate with a flair for the dramatic. This film is worth seeing just for his performance since it is something that you won’t see everyday.
My main problem with this film is in its deus ex machina at the end. Everything works out for the heroes where nearly nothing is lost. I’m not against a happy ending, I just think with this particular movie it would have been made more meaningful if our heroes had to struggle more for it. Most of the ground work is laid out for the big resolve in the film, it still feels very neat and tidy in a story that has had one twist after another. However, this is hardly a reason to place Stardust on your do not watch list. If you are looking for a fun film, one that would be perfect for a date night, than I strongly recommend Stardust.
My Rating: 8/10