127 minutes approx
Captain Shakespeare -
Written by -
Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
Directed by -
The small village of Wall has a big secret - its wall. The wall is actually a barrier between the world of Victorian England and the mystical realm of Stormhold. One young man was able to cross that barrier and have a small adventure, an adventure that led to the arrival of a baby boy called Tristan.
Many years later, the king of Stormhold sets a challenge that ought to sort out which of his sons will be the last one standing and therefore inherit the kingdom. This involves a star falling to earth in the shape of a beautiful, but ill-tempered woman. Tristan, being smitten with village beauty Victoria, promises to bring her the fallen star and sets out to do just that in order to win her hand in marriage. Along the way he will face the guardian of the wall, the sky pirates, the dead heir to the throne of Stormhold and a terrifying sisterhood of witches.
The tag line for STARDUST is 'A fairy tale that won't behave. That's only partly true because there is a great deal of traditional fairy tale in this story. He's a shop boy instead of a farmboy, but he goes on a quest for the unattainable girl and discovers hidden depths that even he did not know he had, gets trained by a rogue, fights monsters, faces down the evil witch and wins the girl. That's not a spoiler either because you always know where the main story is heading from the very start. When you strip it down, it really is a very traditional fairy tale.
What won't behave is the wicked sense of mischief that winds throughout the film, taking the traditional template and bolting on modern humour and cleverly playing with expectations.
Thi sourced from a witty script based on Neil Gaiman's original tale. All of the cast have some very funny lines and moments and all of them make the most of it with some cracking performances. Key to all this is the performance of Michelle Pfeiffer as the witch who goes in search of the fallen star in order to guarantee eternal youth for her and her sisters. It's a light and bright performance that anchors the centre of the film. Not far behind, and easily the funniest performance in the film, is Robert DeNiro's take on the captain of the skyborne, lightning gathering pirate ship. Once again showing was comic timing he has, he gets the biggest laughs of everyone.
These (and many other, smaller) supporting acts take the weight off the central duo of Charlie Cox and Claire Danes as Tristan and Yvaine Their characters are a bit bland, as often the central hero and heroine in folk tales are, but both give likeable performances and make the audience care that the ending should be the ending that fairy tales are traditionally supposed to have.
There are a plethora of other minor characters that fill the screen with eccentric colour and everyone throws themselves into the film with energy.
There is one thing that a fairy tale has to have if it is to be memorable, of course, and that is magic. STARDUST has that magic. For all its subversiveness, it is the charm of the characters and the quirky twists in the tale that bring the magic through and provide a fantasy film that can equally delight little girls and grown men. This is truly a family film in the sense that everyone in the family will find something in there to please them.
Whilst THE PRINCESS BRIDE remains the first, and best, fairy tale with an attitude, STARDUST gives it a much harder run for its money that might have been expected and everyone that sees it is guaranteed to go away with a big grin on their face.Top
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