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Stardust (2007)

If its cast wasn’t enough incentive for the would-be viewer, this “adult” fantasy book-to-screen adaptation actually boasts a clever script – and that means this is a winner.  

Nearly twenty years after being left on his father’s doorstep, Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) is in love. He’s found the woman whose heart he wishes to win in the local beauty, Victoria (Sienna Miller). Only trouble is, Tristan has to compete for her hand against a school mate. Hoping to woo her, Tristan promises the impossible: he’ll bring back a fallen star for the honor of her hand. There’s just one problem with that – Wall, the village Tristan calls home is protected by a wall from the realm of Stronghold and none of its citizens have been allowed to cross to the lands unknown beyond that point. Not one to be deterred and with a sense of wanderlust – same as his father (Nathanial Parker), Tristan forges ahead. Once he reaches his destination, Tristan finds that the star is far from a lump of stardust. Her name is Yvaine (Claire Danes) and she’s nothing he expected, and in order to keep her safe, he’ll have to embark on an adventure – one that pits him against a wicked sorceress (Michelle Peffier) and pirates! – he never expected.

 Believe it or not, there was once a time when fantasy films, books or any other form of “fantastical” entertainment was taboo in my house. Only recently did I settle in for a re-watch of this film which sparked a new angle of thought in regards to this story, and writing this review has reminded me that it was probably Stardust that really opened my perspective and made me curious about the genre in broader terms. From then on out, many similar films found a place as favorites and this movie falls among them. I don’t watch this movie very often and for the life of me I cannot logically say why not. On the upside when I do get around to settling in and popping it into the player, it’s that much more fun because those time spans in-between viewings make me forget what a glittering piece of fun this film truly is.

Fantasy addicts know that it takes a unique filmmaker who can merge humor and adventurous danger to fans satisfaction. That is the sort of fairytale lover I am, and this script does that with whip-smart and zany precision. There were dozens of times when I giggled over some of the sequences without feeling like the comedy was “overdoing” things or as if I was being cheated out of an action adventure at the cost of a comedic mess or vice versa. This is one of those films that really “has it all”; there are several breath-catching moments (both good and bad) and of course, any romantic will get their fill of swoon-worthy gestures (I know I sure did!). The creative genius behind this motion picture was Matthew Vaughn (X-Men, First Class) pulling double duty as both a scripter and director. Though I cannot say how this adapted to screen (based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, who – random trivia time! – also wrote a pair of Doctor Who episodes), the script works well as more of an “adult” fantasy epic and despite some unnecessary winking implications here and there, the story enthralls.

Before they were familiar faces on television screens across America or widely known as favorite Austen heroes, this movie featured some awesome talent! Not the least of which was its leading cast – that pulled together everyone from the familiar (Danes, Peffier) to the unknown (Cox). Also playing a role in this whimsical flick is Mark Strong, Rupert Everett, plus (briefly) a young Ben Barnes and a nearly unrecognizable Henry Cavill. Everyone in this cast is stupendous! What I love most is that by playing these roles, not only do they seem to have wonderful chemistry but it’s as if none of them are taking their roles too seriously – no one seems to be having more fun with it than this group of talent, which is plain to see unfold and makes the viewer all the more invested in the film. But then that’s just what a good cast should do – and this one in particular commands a lot of attention. The costuming is pretty (as it always is in these sorts of flicks), and like many before and since, Cox’s transformation from boy to man is well recognized, especially when he proves he can a.) wield a sword with expertise and b.) pull off swishing around one of those long coats that demands notice!

If you like this genre, nothing does up the magic, enchantment or adventure better than Stardust. The title is enticing and the build-up to the ever-important climatic ending better than many of its peers. In short, really all that needs to be said is that this is any fantasy lover’s dream. It’s humorous, atmospheric (the effects aren’t bad either!) and just plain charming.

(Parental review: It’s revealed two men are homosexual [one is very subtle, the other shows a scene of a man cross-dressing in his room]. A baby is born out-of-wedlock; there are various minor sexual innuendoes and it’s implied but uncertain whether an unmarried couple are intimate with each other. There is plenty of witchcraft and magic; witches kill animals [out of frame] and use their dead body parts to predict things. A man is turned into a woman [for “comical” purposes, we see her bust form] along with a few other sexual gags. Voodoo magic is employed once. It’s implied a ghost is naked [the camera never shows anything below the waist]. Brothers kill each other [throwing them out windows, poisonings, slit throats] and there is a “panel” of ghosts present through much of the film. There are a few profanities littered about. The film is rated PG13.)
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  1. You know, I have heard from several friends that I need to watch this movie. I think your post just sealed the deal. :)

    1. Really!? I hope you like it then, Melissa especially after hearing great things about it. Let me know what you think; I certainly LOVE it. :)

  2. Great review. I love the content notes.

    I remember being weirded out by the animals somehow.

    1. Thanks for reading, Juju! :)

      That was a bit creepy; though usually that's what witch characters are! *Shudder*

  3. Love this movie. And that's all I have to say because you've said it all! Good review Rissi! :)

    1. *HIGH FIVE*

      This is a really fun flick and I love all the imagery and imagination of it. Thanks for reading, Sarah. :)

  4. I love this one! I need to buy it on DVD. Such a cute and fun movie!

    1. I agree, Jamie! (Just thought I'd clarify that in case I didn't gush enough in the review ;D) Hope you can add it to that collection soon, it's worth it!

  5. I saw this movie for the first time while on holiday in the UK last Christmas. And then I watched it again about a month or so ago. I like it a lot. Well, apart from the witches killing animals and all that. Oh and I also thought the scenes with the captain were a little awkward.

    I liked how the film makers inserted quite some humour in the movie. And I thought it was absolutely adorable the way Tristan finally falls for Yvaine. *Sigh*

    Thanks for your review Rissi!

    1. Any fantasy film seems to do a great job of being a little bit "icky." Usually I can get past it so long as I like the film and that was the case with this one, Funto. I'm glad you liked it also!

      The Tristan/Yvaine story was indeed charming; I adore the camaraderie and eventually love between them and yes, the humor was also another incentive. :)

      (As for the scenes with the captain? Yes, they are a bit "off," however that's just another way filmmakers can be PC.)

      Thanks for reading!

  6. I LOVE this movie!! It's one of my favorites! (And, then I read your content warnings and wonder how on earth I like it so much! ;) )

    1. For me as well, Tammy! Funny you should mention being jarred by the content; I'm like that sometimes also. For some reason reading the content is usually worse than the visual/hearing. Or that is what I've found. :)


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