the studio gate

the backlot

the screening room
The Screening Room

"Stardust" comes in a line of what I'd like to call hybrid fantasy films. Like "Ella Enchanted" (2004), the 2007 film meshes elements of princess fairy tales and a little bit of modern storytelling into a tidy movie.

The fantasy film that warmed critic's hearts, but didn't measure with audiences, is now on DVD.     

The story of "Stardust" involves a young romantic named Tristan (Charlie Cox) who tries win the heart of Victoria (Sienna Miller) by promising her a falling star, who turns out to be Claire Danes as Yvaine. Tristan finds this fallen star and together, after some bickering, are off on an adventure. They encounter the evil witch, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), and a tough pirate with a secret, Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro). If this sounds a little confusing, there are actually a few more plot points and characters mixed with the story of "Stardust."

I wasn't totally bowled over by "Stardust." It didn't charm me like "The Princess Bride" (1987). I probably shouldn't compare them to each other. A better comparison is "Ella Enchanted," in which some of the parts are enjoyable, yet the whole picture doesn't quite add up. Simply too many ingredients are thrown into the pot and mixed up. 

The performances are the strong point to the movie. It's great to see Pfeiffer return to the screen. She's been in many movies over the years, but mostly in forgettable films. I can honestly say the last role I can remember her in was as Mindy on "The Simpsons" (1993). She's at the top of her form as Lamia. Her version of a witch isn't a cackling hag, though makeup and visual effects make her look like one. Pfeiffer, once she's transformed into her normal self, is seductive and charming. De Niro is pretty funny as the scary Captain Shakespeare. He seems to be having a good time playing against his own type. Cox and Danes also put in good performances. Peter O'Toole shows up for a short performance as a king, and his sons are funny. I won't spoil the plot on why they're funny.

The way "Stardust" looks on the DVD cover, one might be inclined to pick this film up for little children. This may be a little misleading. I only mention this because the story and most of the movie is mostly family friendly. But there are some very short, yet violent parts of the film that are part of the story's plot. The rating is "PG-13," after all. Older kids won't mind the violence, but smaller children probably will. And Pfeiffer's turn as a witch is frightening for little kids. I thought that if those scenes were done differently and with less violence, the film might've been more appealing to children with a "PG" rating.

"Stardust" will find its way into the hearts and minds of some viewers. In fact, in may find a new audience on DVD. I look at it as one of those "guilty pleasure" movies. Not bad, not great, it's at the very least a pleasant diversion.  

Bill Kallay

Special thanks to Click Communications

Photos: Paramount. All rights reserved.

Quick Glimpse


Enjoyable fantasy, though not perfect

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro


Making of doc, bloopers



Picture: Very Good
Sound: Very Good

Michelle, where have you been all these years?

Aspect Ratio (2.39:1)

Dolby Digital 5.1

December 18, 2007