Thursday, August 23, 2007
Movie review: Stardust
Having waited with bated breath for the Stardust to open in Australian cinemas (September 20), scoring tickets for a special premiere a whole month earlier would what the UrbanDictionary define as "sweet". To have Charlie Cox, breakout star of said movie, introduce the movie and regale us with random bits of trivia is just the perennial icing on the already very sweet cake. That the movie completely fulfils my every expectation and pulls out some unexpected surprises as well? Consider me a diabetic after the whole experience.
I feel that I must pre-face the review with this note; For those not in the know, Stardust is an adaptation of cult-fantasy-author Neil Gaiman's book off the same name. Neil Gaiman... that name itself explains more than I'll be able to in summing up the story.
The movie follows the quest of Tristran (played by Cox) who hunts down a fallen star in order to procure the hand of his lady love, Victoria (Sienna Miller). The fallen star takes the shape of a woman (Claire Danes) upon crashing onto the ground. Unbeknownst to Tristran, the star is also hunted by a witch (Michelle Pheiffer) who wants it for eternal youth and a king (Rupert Everett) who cannot take the throne without it. Of course thanks to the mind of Neil Gaiman, the story isn't quite cut and dry. Woven into the plot are pirates, magical kingdoms, ghosts, and unicorns. According to Wikipedia, Matthew Vaughn pitched the film as "The Princess Bride meets The Pirates of the Carribean." While I do not necessarily agree with the pitch, I can certainly see that the intricate balance of humour, action, and love found in these three films are what the critics will refer to in drawing comparisons.
I was very excited to see what Matthew Vaughn would do in only his second take at directing after Layer Cake (which impressed me so), and I must say that all in all, Vaughn did a fantastic job. Telling a story that is so detailed and encompassing isn't one for the weak-skilled. Initial choppy editing at the beginning of the film aside, Vaughn's vision and strength progressed to culminate into a killer climax. Many times during the film, I sat on the edge of the seat, trying hard not to yell words of support to the screen. It seems silly but I am definitely one of those who gets caught up in the moment. It certainly helped that all the players brought everything they had to the table.
Charlie Cox and Claire Danes are without doubt the stand-outs in the cast. Cox, who I had never seen perform before, blew me away. Tristran was the quintessential hero, growing from an adorable boy to a respected man (still adorable, but with better hair) as his storyline progressed. Brimming with charm and a certain innocent naiveté, Cox will definitely be one to watch in the future. Even Vanity Fair is sitting up and taking notice. Danes, on the other hand, I had often took as a one hit wonder - less then stellar career post-My So-Called Life. I was initially upset with her taking the role that Sarah Michelle Gellar turned down, because regardless of SMG's questionable career post-Buffy, I knew she had the chops to pull it off. I have never been more glad to be proven wrong! Danes was elegance and ethereal beauty personified in Yvaine, the fallen star. Her delivery in the monologue regarding love just made me stare wide-eyed, all goofy-grinned because of its sheer impact and brilliance. Who knew she had it in her? I guess I do now.
Unfortunately, films from the sci-fi/fantasy genre (that is not made from George Lucas) has a tradition of doing poorly in cinemas. Stardust opened at number four in the American box-office in its opening week. Hopefully it'll continue to stay strong and strong word-of-mouth will cause the public to flock to watch it. Nonetheless, what it lacks in box office sales will definitely be made up for when the DVD hits. Don't be one of those lagging dopes only catching it when the DVD drops!
Verdict: In 21 words or less...
A future classic! There'll be a whole new generation of kids who will grow up on Stardust.
Trivia according to Charlie Cox:
The scene where Robert De Niro's pirate meets Ricky Gervais' bootleg seller is mostly ad-libbed. The actors had to turn their heads away from the camera to cover their laughter.