Anyone and everyone wants a heart…
Tristan sets off to find a fallen star so he can marry the girl of his dreams, but he’s not alone as there are princes and witches looking for it too.
Stardust (2007) Trailer #1 | Movieclips Classic Trailers, Movieclips Classic Trailers
A long long time ago, I watched this epic movie at the cinema with my friends’ wee sons. They both loved it, end of the review. Ok, my stepdudes loved it too, when they were young and a wee bit cynical about any films with kissing in them. End of review? Ok, in a bit more detail, Stardust (2007) is a fantastically cast and wonderful fantasy comedy film for you and your kids. It’s based on the book by Neil Gaiman, the man who wrote American Gods (2017).
This film is like Airport 77 (1977) in that it’s got a huge all-star cast and this one where every time you watch it, you notice some cast member you didn’t spot last time you saw it. That someone, this time in Stardust, it was Mark Heap, aka Brian Topp from Spaced (1999–2001) and Jim Bell from Friday Night Dinner (2011–2020) but I digress. And just in case, you are interested it was Joseph Cotten that I spotted in that all-star cast that keeps on giving in Airport 77.
Stardust is a British film is headed by the very American Robert De Niro, Claire Danes and Michelle Pfeiffer. If that hasn’t sold you to it, the British cast also has (clears throat)… Charlie Cox, Ricky Gervais, Henry Cavill, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Ian McKellen, Mark Strong and half British Sienna Miller. And of course, Mark Heap, and a few more British lovelies that I will let you discover yourself.
This film story is narrated by Ian McKellen – as not seen but heard with his mellifluous voice – as he wonders if we are human because we watch the stars at night, or this makes us human. He then asks if the stars watch us. He then after some fairly irrelevant piece about scientists, tells us about the (fictional) English town of Wall. I assume it’s called this as it has a stone wall dividing it from the neighbouring county. Anyway on the other side of the stone wall border, and not so far away is the magical town of Stronghold.
One day sometime in the 19th century, the young and dashing Dunstan Thorne (Ben Barnes) from Wall, outwits the elderly guard (David Kelly) at the wall border. Dunstan jumps over the wall gap, at the border and gets into Stormhold.
He heads for the town’s magical market, and there Dunstan kisses a captive princess in exchange for a glass snowdrop. She is chained by a silver unbreakable thread to a witch’s caravan. It’s implied that he and Princess Una (Kate Magowan) get a wee bit closer as nine months later Una and Dunstans baby, Tristan is delivered to him.
The guard of the wall says that Una wants Dunstan to bring up their baby. There is a note from her for Tristan to read when he turns 18. This note says she is the dying King’s long lost daughter and she encloses a candle that will take him anywhere that he wants to go.
The main story then starts and occurs 18 years later. In Wall, Tristan (Charlie Cox) is pining for Victoria (Miller), a pretty vain and manipulative blonde who treats him like crap. Victoria also has the debonair but obviously stupid Humphrey (Cavill) after her too. Tristan loses his job but treats Victoria to a lavish picnic, where she tells him that Humphrey is buying her an engagement ring for her birthday. Tristan and Victoria then watch a shooting star…
Meanwhile, over the border in Stronghold, the King of Stronghold (O’Toole) is dying and his three remaining sons are vying for the throne. The dying King is Una’s father and he has seven sons, but only three are alive after murdering their siblings. (The other four are seen in black and white and hang around in a group to heckle their living brothers.)
The king throws a gem on a chain out of the window, saying that the throne will go to the living heir that finds this gem. This gem knocks a star out of the sky and it falls to Earth as a shooting star. Three really old witch sisters watch this falling star with interest too…
Victoria asks Tristan to get her the fallen star in time for her birthday in a few days, adding only then will she marry him. Tristan goes home despondently and Dunstan gives his letter from his mother. This letter tells that she is the dying King’s long lost daughter. She encloses a magic Babylon candle in it which will take Tristan to wherever he wishes to go.
On hitting the ground the star has turned into a woman, Yvaine (Danes) and she finds the gem. Prince Septimus (Mark Strong) is looking for the gem, after murdering his brothers. He is now after the heart of the star on learning that by finding it, he will become immortal.
One of the witches, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) is after the star too to regain her and her sisters’ youth. are To help this evil witch on the way, she as has used black magic and some of the shooting star these witches obtained previously.
Tristan uses the candle to go where the star has hit the earth. There he discovers Yvaine is the star and now all he has to do is get her back to Wall in time for Victoria’s birthday… and tune in to see where Robert De Niro and Ricky Gervais fit into the story.
This was an interestingly told story and beautifully told in this adaptation. It was surprising to learn that the original story was published by DC (Detective Comics) in four editions. Director Matthew Vaughan and screenwriter Jane Goldman adapted this story which had more adult content into a story appropriate for family viewing.
This film reflected this with more adult content subtly suggested, adapted or taken out completely. The book was also much longer at ten and a half hours worth of material and so the film storyline was shortened with the edition of Ricky Gervais’s character and other plot devices.
There is a fantastic and credible use of film special effects, sets and locations. The sets were imaginative and mesmerising and beautifully created and I read the witches lair inspired by rooms in Versailles. Filming took place in a wide variety of locations including Scotland and Iceland.
The creative and original CGI in scenes added to the storyline and there are some magnificent scenes in the remainder of the movie. These blend into the movie beautifully. There were also some nice inspired touches with the dying kings murdered sons seen in black in white and in the manner they died, to comic effect.
The score is majestic and easily evoked memories of those similar genre films I watched as a kid. The music was composed by Ilan Eshkeri who has had a prolific career in film and TV. For this film, he won the Best New Composer of 2007 Award from the International Film Music Critics Association. The closing song was sung by the boy (now man?) group Take That, with their number 2 hit, Rule the World and became their second best selling single.
Charlie Cox and Claire Danes had lovely on-screen chemistry and they were convinced in their respective roles and they had a lovely rapport. Cox was cast first and then his chemistry was observed with Danes and others up for this role. He was always considered for the role by Vaughan, who wanted an unknown actor over the studio choice, Orlando Bloom. The role of Yvaine was turned down by a list of lovelies including Scarlett Johansson and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
Michelle Pfeiffer made a great villainess and she was very convincing in this role as a witch. Michelle Pfeiffer’s make up was extremely convincing. in her first scene resembled a tall female Gollum, before turning into the Michelle Pfeiffer we know and love. She was the only contender for this role, as the screenwriter and director Matthew Vaughan had reportedly had a crush on her since she appeared in Grease 2 (1983). After she signed up for her film, her role was expanded.
This film was noted to have links to other movies. Gaiman stated it he sees the story as a fantasy version of It Happened One Night (1934). Matthew Vaughan visualised it as Midnight Run (1988) meets The Princess Bride (1987). Although Roger Ebert disputed the film’s likeness to The Princess Bride saying;
I liked it, but “The Princess Bride” it’s not.
But I’m sure he as a film critic wouldn’t have denied that there is a wee Easter egg for all Peter O’Toole and Lawrence of Arabia fans at the heart of the story.
Weeper Rating: 😦 😦 😦 😦 😦 /10
Handsqueeze Rating: 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 /10
Hulk Rating: /10
Of High Stakes and Daring Deeds Epic Story Month 2021 No 11
This review was added to Along the Brandywine’s Of High Stakes and Daring Deeds Epic Story Month. Other films with this cast include Michelle Pfeiffer in One Fine Day, The Deep End of the Ocean, The Witches of Eastwick and Grease 2. Robert De Niro stars in Awakenings. Ben Barnes in Westworld. Ian McKellen in Doctor Who. Melanie Hill in Bread. Mark Strong and Kate McGowan in Eastenders. Ricky Gervais in Special Correspondents.