‘Stardust’: A fantastical flight of fantasy

Thu, 08/16/2007 - 3:04pm
By: Emily Baldwin

Watching the previews before “Stardust,” I found myself thinking about the fantasy/fairy-tale films I used to love as a kid: “The Never Ending Story,” “Star Wars” and “The Princess Bride” to name a few.

Then, I began thinking about the last time I saw a film that completely captured my attention with a truly original, fantastic story about a world completely unlike the one in which we live. Perhaps it was “Chronicles of Narnia,” although I was quite familiar with the book so it wasn’t completely new to me. Before that it was probably “Moulin Rouge,” which I loved! (I know there are probably plenty of great fantasy films out there- Harry Potter films and such- but I just haven’t seen them.)

Why is it that as we get older, the number of fantasy films that truly entertain become fewer and fewer? Is it because we lose our imagination? Or perhaps we are too realistic to totally buy into what we are seeing? Then again, maybe all the good ideas have been used, or maybe it’s just me.

Regardless, I was thrilled that “Stardust” met the challenge of leading me into a whole new world of imagination. The film features stars who take on human form, electricity-catching ships flying through the sky and even a unicorn. I know, it sounds cheesy and in some ways it is, but more than that it’s wonderful.

“Stardust” takes us on a journey lead by Tristan (Charlie Cox). Tristan lives in a place called Wall, England. The village is named after the wall that stands as a border between the end of England and the beginning of a magical land no one dares to cross into.

Tristan is in love with a self-absorbed girl named Victoria (Sienna Miller) who is preparing to accept a marriage proposal from another man. In order to prove his love to her, Tristan has vowed to bring her a piece of a star the pair saw fall from the sky. The only problem is, the star fell somewhere in the magical land. If Tristan can get back to Wall with the star in hand in one week’s time, Victoria said she will marry him.

When Tristan finds the star, he discovers that it is not a piece of cosmic rock as he had expected, but a beautiful young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes). Tristan promises to help Yvaine get back into the sky where she belongs, if only she will first come with him to Wall as a birthday present and proof of his love for Victoria.

The trouble starts when it is discovered that Tristan isn’t the only one who wanted to find Yvaine. Rather, a cast of wily characters are on the hunt for the star: 400 year old witches who want to eat the star’s heart to give them everlasting youth, a trio of princes who must find the star in order to become king and others from the magical land who know the power and value of a star.

It’s a fantastical flight of fantasy and it’s just what I hoped for after seeing its previews months ago.

The cast is large and full of high-wattage names. Often a film with such big names results in mediocrity, but in this case the stars align in excellence.

Danes is stunning as the star who wears her emotions on her sleeve, or in this case in a glow around her head. After seeing her in the recent GAP commercial, I was definitely ready for the girl who captured our hearts as Angela Chase in “My So-Called Life” to head back to the silver screen. Traditionally, her films have portrayed her as a plain jane, and it’s nice to see her all dolled up.

Cox seems to have been a good choice as the lead in that he’s not too remarkable yet he is thoroughly likable. Unlike Danes, Cox is new to the Hollywood scene- his first big film, “Merchant of Venice,” was made just three years ago - and could very well be on his way to making a name for himself.

Michelle Pfeiffer plays Lamia, the lead witch in search of Yvaine, and is as stunning as ever. Robert De Niro is the surprise hit of the film, however, in his role as Captain Shakespeare, the villainous captain of the sky. De Niro is responsible for a good many laughs in the film as his idea of a “fairy” tale seems to take on a whole new meaning.

I do need to warn you however; This film is not a film for kids as there are quite a few scenes that would frighten them. It’s rated PG-13 for fantasy violence and some risque humor.

For those 13 and up, however, I highly recommend making a trip out to the theater for this one- seeing it on the big screen is an experience you will remember.


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