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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Stardust

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Judy Thorburn

Stardust

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"STARDUST" - SHINES AS AN ENCHANTED FAIRY TALE

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

If you live in Las Vegas you may think that “Stardust” is about the old strip casino that was recently demolished. Or for older folks who were around in the 1940’s, you might recall the title as the name of the big hit song of that era. Come to think of it, there is also an old Woody Allen movie called “Stardust Memories.” Well, none of these have anything to do with this new summer theatrical release. That isn’t to say a very pleasant surprise isn’t in store. I can’t see how anyone, age five to ninety five, will not be left thoroughly spellbound by this magical fairy tale.

Stardust is based on the best selling graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and tells the story of a young man filled with wanderlust, adventure and the desire to fulfill the wish of the woman of his dreams. As a result he finds his “true” love, as well as uncovering a surprising, wonderful revelation.

Tristan Thorne (newcomer, Charlie Cox), the offspring of a witch’s slave (Kate Magowan) and single father (Ben Barnes) who dared to venture into forbidden territory years before, is smitten with the beautiful but cold Victoria. Eager to acquire her love by fulfilling her request to retrieve a fallen star, Tristan sets out on a journey beyond the cobblestone walls of his sleepy English village aptly named Wall, and ventures into the supernatural kingdom of Stormhold that exists on the other side. When Tristan finally arrives at his destination, the site of the star’s crash landing, he discovers it has transformed in a lovely, cranky, slightly injured blonde maiden named Yvaine (a glowing, Claire Danes, no pun intended).

Tristan isn’t the only one who is after Yvaine. There are others with an agenda all their own. Unbeknownst to Tristan, Yvaine has magical powers that others desperately want for themselves. The dying, bed ridden King (Peter O’Toole) of Stormhold had seven sons. Having murdered each other, the four dead brothers appear as comical ghosts who hang around ever watching the outcome as the remaining three scheming sons eventually battle it out to the death. The sole survivor, Septimus (Mark Strong) is left with his father’s request to seek out the star which has the power to restore the throne. And there is even more evil lurking about. A malevolent, centuries old witch named Lamia (Michelle Pfieffer) is sent by her two sisters to find the star and eat her heart which will empower them with everlasting youth and beauty.

As strong as she is, Lamia’s powers are limited. To restore Lamia to her once physically beautiful, youthful self, the trio of witches gathers up all their arsenal of powers. But, Lamia soon discovers that the more she uses her spells, the more her beauty fades and old age creeps back.

In trying to elude their pursuers Tristan and Yvaine encounter Shakespeare, (Robert DeNiro) the captain of a flying pirate ship who puts on a fake, tough guy persona in front of his men while really being in the closet (and rather enjoying prancing around in some feminine wardrobe, I might add).

Not since “The Princess Bride” have I enjoyed such an enchanting fairy tale romance that has all the right elements. Director Matthew Vaughn gracefully weaves the several plotlines into one evenly paced mixture of adventure, romance, humor and fantasy. I like the fact that this is one complete story with a beginning middle and end without having to wait for the conclusion in an upcoming episode, if you know what I mean.

Cinematically, the movie is eye catching beautiful. The set designs, costumes and CGI effects enhance without overwhelming. The storyline and most of the cast are a delight especially Pfeiffer who is deliciously wicked as the witch, although her British accent is inconsistent. Nearing fifty, the still beautiful actress shows great comic timing and clearly looks like she was having a field day behind the scary old witch makeup, turning people into goats and performing other evil spells. This is her second role as a villainess (she can be seen as Velma in the recent release of the musical version of Hairspray) since returning to the screen after a hiatus.

The only drawback is DeNiro who is terribly miscast and appears uncomfortable as the cross dressing cloud pirate. Other than his role, a minor detour, I have high praise for this magical journey that drew me in to its wondrous world of mystical characters and the supernatural.
More than half way through 2007, I have to say Stardust is one of my favorite movies of the year. I loved it, as I do all movies that draw me in as an enjoyable piece of escapist entertainment. Simply put, “Stardust” shines.