Neil Gaiman’s fairy tale fantasy, Stardust, is the next stop in DK Canada’s Monsters in the Movies book as I venture into the realm of witches. Gaiman is one of my favourite authors, and it always bothers me that more people don’t know his work, and I think that’s one of the reasons this film wasn’t quite as big as it should have been.
Honestly, it’s a sheer delight, with a magical story and a fantastic cast including Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong and Robert DeNiro (in a wonderful role, that lets him exercise his comedic talents in an enjoyable way). Set in an English town that butts up against a magical realm, the story follows young Tristan (Cox) on an adventure to capture a fallen star (Danes) to present as a gift to Victoria (Sienna Miller) as proof of his love.
But the adventure gets bigger as Tristan grows into a man, while a trio of witches, led by Pfeiffer’s ageing Lamia, hope to capture Yvaine the star, and ingest her heart, which will give them a return to beauty and youth.
Also caught up in the adventure are a family of rival princelings (including Strong) who scheme and murder one another for a chance at the throne.
All the story threads converge in this wonderful romantic and fantastical romp that plays with fairy tales, adventure stories and expectations.
The film delights as much as Gaiman’s original story, and I was so happy to see it brought to the screen, and you either buy into the story, or you get left behind, and that, for me, works beautifully in this film. It looks gorgeous, though some of the visual effects now seem a little dated, with solid costume and production design, filled out with a treasure trove of acting talent. There are so many moments of – it’s so-and-so! that never eject you from the film, but instead build my enjoyment of it, because it looks like they’re having as much fun as I did reading the story.
Danes and Cox make a wonderful onscreen pairing, and provide a believable beating heart to the film, while surrounded by the adventure and often magic and laugh filled story around them.
And of course, knowing it’s a fairy tale, we know there is going to be a happy ending to it, so it’s pretty family suitable, and would, in fact, make a great pairing with The Princess Bride. And of course, you can’t be narration by the wonderful Ian McKellen, was there ever a voice more suited for telling fairy tales?
There’s probably some scary witches to come as I explore more of DK Books’ Monsters in the Movies. Pick up one today and find something monstrous to watch tonight!