The only things I knew about Stardust going into the film were that it was called Stardust and it was released in 2007. It’s virtually an “un-hyped” movie. But does this fairy tale romance with an overdramatic soundtrack deserve the lack of enthusiasm it has mustered over the last decade? It’s time to find out.
At first blush the plot sounds a little stale and overused, but the script has enough twists and turns that I found the story to be refreshing and fun. A great mix of drama and comedy keeping me engaged and on the edge of my seat.
A young man named Tristan, played by Charlie Cox, sets out on a quest to capture a fallen star for a girl he has a crush on. He’s not the only one after the star though. An evil witch and a handful of fratricidal brothers are also after the fallen star.
The fallen star turns out to be a fair blonde woman, who is played by Claire Danes and, let’s be honest, looks a little like Victoria. Approximately 3 seconds after Tristan collides with Yvaine, the star, every romantic in the audience is rooting for them to end up together.
Of course the two don’t get along to begin with and that’s how we know it’s a foregone conclusion. You could turn the film off now and go to bed satisfied that the couple will live happily ever after. The end.
But don’t turn the film off now, because it’s just getting good.
The movie jumps between the brothers, the witches, and our Hero as they all race toward their respective goals. Tristan is in a race against time, the rest are all racing to reach Yvaine. The brothers are racing to kill each other while the witches are racing to kill the star. It’s complicated.
If the film was Tristan and Yvaine dodging one attempt at their life after another movie would be quite boring. (Much like The Hobbit Trilogy, only with more humans.) But not everyone is out to kill the star and the companions meet an unexpected mentor along the way.
At the beginning of the film Tristan is mocked for not being good at anything. Now, aboard a flying pirate ship, we watch his sword fighting improve while Yvaine learns to dance and play the piano. It’s easy to forget that the musically-charged montage takes up no more than 4 or 5 days of this week long adventure.
Tristan’s improvement is palpable and he leave the airship a new man.
As we enter act three, everything seems to be going quite smoothly, which in the film world signals that everything is going to go wrong, very, very quickly. Tristan appears to reject Yvaine and crosses the wall to see Victoria. The dejected Yvaine is kidnapped by the witches who takes the now-dulled star back to their dwelling.
The last living prince is also in hot pursuit, attempting to claim the ruby necklace. Brining up the rear is Tristan, who has now fully outgrown his old self and is on a new quest to save Yvaine’s life.
In the witches’ lair Tristan is reunited with his mother and after a climatic battle, wherein all the training from his mentor pays off and he shines with flying colors. He’s spared from killing the witch, by Yvaine, who makes the evil hag explode by making herself really, really bright.
It was a touching moment.
The Technical Fiddly Bits
Overall, the movie was fantastically done. The special effects worked well and the cinematography fit the story that was being told.
I would say that the music was a little bit over the top. The soundtrack was epic with heroic brass and loud orchestrations. It felt like too much, but it also felt like “too much on purpose.” It’s done partly as comedy, used to pull the audience emotionally around, stirring up expectations before the film does a 180 and says “gotcha!”
At some points I almost felt the music sounded “too good” for the film, with soaring melodies reminiscent of other epic films. But all this said, the music was good. (I found myself looking it up on youtube as I wrote this review.)
Stardust is an underrated movie that is fun for the whole family. I really don’t know why it never caught on.
Paramount managed to somehow fail to attract ticket buyers for a film that literally appeals to almost every demographic imaginable. They did so by making it look dull and boring and uninventive. – The Digital Fix
It’s a unique tale with a strong message of love characters you can grow to love over the short two hours and seven minutes you spend with them. Do yourself a favor and give this flick a watch.
(Only writing this review did I realize that the film is based off a novel by Neil Gaiman, so I’ll likely be reading that later this year as well.)