Stardust (2007)

Stardust may be the first true fairy tale of the summer movies. Based on Neil Gaiman's novel, this movie blends fantasy, action, humor, romance to create a very original world (if not plot).

About 150 years ago, the English town Wall contained a brick wall that keeps in a magical universe called Stormhold. A man wandered in, had a dalliance with a local woman (who claimed to be a princess captured by a witch), and nine months later his son is dropped off at his doorstep.

We jump ahead 18 years, when the baby is now a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox). He is a poor, imaginative lad that is enraptured by the beautiful-but-vain Victoria (Sienna Miller). She, alas, is about to be proposed to by the handsome, wealthy, popular Humphrey (Henry Cavill). When Tristan and Victoria see a falling star land behind the Wall, Tristan promises to bring it to her. With the help of some magic items left to him by his mother, Tristan goes to the star -- only to find it is a beautiful young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes). She agrees to travel with him to Victoria, and afterwards he'll return her to the sky.

But others are after Yvaine. A trio of witches, led by Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), want to cut out the star's heart to give them youth. Further, before the King of Stormhold (Peter O'Toole) died, he proclaimed that only the heir who found a magic ruby would be king; and that ruby somehow brought Yvaine to Earth, so she wears it. There are also assorted other characters, including a billy goat turned into a human, the greedy Ferdy the Fence (played by Ricky Gervais), and Captain Shakespeare (Robert DeNiro), the flying ship captain who has a very secret side.

Stardust is very well done. There aren't many dimensions to the characters, but all the actors have a lot of fun with their roles. And while there are very conventional story elements (as the young, good-looking Tristan and Yvaine bicker, it's very clear what their fates will be) there are plenty of imaginative touches: the starlike aspects of Yvaine, the bazaar of wonders, the magic of the witches (including Lamia's signs of aging with each spell cast). In a summer filled with innumerable sequels, Stardust is a magical breath of fresh air.

Overall Grade: A-

Reviewed by James Lynch

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