BY PATRICIA DRAZNIN
Stardust (with Michelle Pfeiffer) enters an entertaining world of witches and princes and magic spells © 2007 Paramount Pictures.
Stardust is an uncharted fantasy/comedy into a world of witches and princes and magic spells that launch a young man’s passage into adulthood. The tale of high adventure begins in the Kingdom of Stormhold with the notion that the stars gaze back at us from the heavens. And one such star (played by Claire Danes) has something to teach us about the meaning of love and being true to oneself, especially to a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) who is trying to win the heart of the woman he loves.
Based on the novel by Nail Gaiman and Charles Vess and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels), Stardust offers a reasonable setup. But the trajectory grows chaotic with subplots and the dialogue stalls, and some of its fantasy effects are a little hokey. But more than anything, I wanted to stop the reels and beg the makeup crew to ease up on the “old and ugly” effect, which in several characters was much too convincing. Especially the lovely Michelle Pfeiffer who, along with her villainous role in Hairspray, seems miscast playing evil, and who will forever be the hot crooner of The Fabulous Baker Boys to me.
However, if you can hang in past the halfway mark, Stardust gathers momentum and turns a corner, which smooths out the dialogue and hooks us in. What else the film has going for it is its sense of unexpected humor, with a special performance by Robert De Niro that continues to deliver.
Stardust is not a film that you’ll remember 20 years from now. Not like, say, Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, the 1987 William Goldman humorous fantasy about the meaning of true love, with one of the tightest comedy scripts in Hollywood. But Stardust does promise a full spectrum of entertainment worthy of a summer film. B-