Director – Matthew Vaughn
Writer – Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman
Starring – Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller
Fantasy movies that are aimed primarily at kids are not really my cup of tea. Sure I will watch the odd one on DVD but rarely will I make the trip to see it in a cinema. But there was just something that looked special about Stardust that ultimately urged me enough to see it. The film had a lot of promise but in my opinion it doesn’t fully fulfil it.
The film tells the story of Tristan, a young man who makes a promise to his love that he will retrieve a fallen star for her by venturing into a magical realm which borders his small town.
The most noticeable thing about Stardust is the plethora of familiar faces sprinkled throughout the movie. Although the actor who plays the main character is fairly unrecognisable almost everyone else you will have seen in countless other films and TV shows. From the bigger actors such as Michelle Pfeiffer, in one of the best roles of the movie, and Robert De Niro (in an role that ends up being an extended gay joke) to the smaller but annoyingly familiar actors such as Dexter Fletcher (who you ay remember from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) and Mark Strong, who is one of better cast actors in the film. All of these amd more familiar faces make for a fun but at the same time annoying experience as you try and place them while trying to concentrate on the movie at the same time.
On the acting side of things in places it is accurately on-the-spot while in others it leaves something to be desired. Perhaps the mishaps in acting can be forgiven as this happens only in the smaller roles and for the most pat I really don’t have much complaint with that aspect of the film.
The story of the film itself I felt was a bit too big for it’s boots. It has a lot of ambition, more specifically the ideas employed, but I don’t think it carries it off all that well. Some of those ideas do, however, work extremely well and are impressive and mind-boggling in equal measure. I’m not going to get into details of each specific idea employed but let’s just say they are easily noticeable. Also on the positive side of the story aspect it is a tale at least I am unfamiliar with which allowed me to immerse myself in a completely new world instead of being fed the same stuff we have all seen a thousand times before.
One of the major impressive things about the film is the visuals effects ala use of CGI. Although sometimes they go overboard with it for the most part the CGI is used effectively and entertainingly. It certainly makes a welcome change from the completely overboard use of it in such films as the Spiderman and Pirates franchise.
Now on the down side of things, and this may go on a bit longer than the positive, first of all there are far too many characters. And it’s not just the very fact that there is too many characters, as we have seen it been done right ala Lord of the Rings, but that it’s not done properly. Instead of us feeling like there is this entire magical realm filled with all these wonderful and mysterious characters it ends up feeling really forced and almost as if there are only a few ‘special’ people that we just happen to see on-screen throughout the movie. It’s quite difficult to put into words but in seeing the movie you will get what I’m saying.
Something else which bothered me a lot was the amount of storylines along with the amount of characters. Although not quite as confusing and contrived as Pirates of the Caribbean 3 it still was a little too much on the confusing side. Although I had a firm enough grasp on the overall story of the film I still was left puzzled abut more than a few story arcs and the nature of some of the characters by film’s end. Imagine, if you will, a pile of books tied together by a piece of rope (a not-so-subtle reference to the Alfred Hitchcock film) only the rope is too slack and the books are almost falling; that’s what Stardust felt like to me. If only writer/director Matthew Vaughn and just everyone involved had pulled the knot on the rope a little tighter I think it would have made for a much tighter, easier-to-completely-grasp film.
But perhaps the biggest downfall of the film is the sense, or lack thereof. Everything in the film makes no sense whatsoever. Now I know you have to forgive that because it’s a fantasy film but there were just so many unbelievable (and I mean that word literally) things in the film for me to take them seriously. For instance at one point in the movie a pirate ship appears flying in the sky with Robert De Niro and crew aboard who are there for a reason that has something to do with collecting bolts of lightning. This would be fine if it had been established in some way instead of it just appearing literally from nowhere within the story. There are other countless things throughout that didn’t make any sense and were just too much for me to take.
Having said all that I didn’t hate Stardust. Like I said the CGI is impressive, some of the ideas mind-boggling and the host of familiar faces make for a fun time at the movies. However I feel the film is too ambitious for it’s own good with too many characters, plot threads and it doesn’t make a shred of sense in any way. The film’s heart is in the right place, though, even if its head isn’t.