Starring: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Running Time: 127 mins
Stardust is a British film about a young man living in a small countryside village neighbouring a mysterious magical land, separated only by a low wall. When destiny finally lands him on the other side, he will try to save a fallen star from being usurped by the hands of evil.
The interesting thing about Stardust is that it’s an incredibly original sort of film, despite being part of an incredibly repetitive genre. At times parodic, at other serious about its own fantasy lore, it’s a compelling and entertaining watch from start to finish, and although it may not quite be the next Princess Bride, Stardust is definitely a whole lot better than I expected.
By far the best part about this film is Matthew Vaughn’s directing. Nowadays, we know how good he is at making action parodies like Kick-Ass and Kingsman, but there’s something both very impressive and different about his earlier outing here. Whilst his ability to shoot entertaining and dynamic action sequences is second to none, the way he so confidently delivers this very audacious take on the fantasy genre, mixing comedic parody elements along with some pretty intense fantasy drama, is amazing to see.
I’m a self-confessed non-lover of the genre. Too much Lord Of The Rings or Harry Potter gibberish can easily bore me, but the great thing about Stardust is that it’s actually a very easy-to-read story from start to finish, all the while convincingly building its own world. With an array of characters and motivations flying about, you’d expect the film to get muddled, but thanks to Vaughn’s confident directing, as well as an excellent screenplay, the film is always a very smooth watch.
The film doesn’t place too much focus on our main character, nor does it give excessive attention to its side characters, and that balance works really well for the overall flow of the film. With a clearly explained and focused objective for each character, this film is very easy to get into and understand, making the thrill of the chase all the more entertaining.
One of the other reasons that Stardust is such a surprise is because of how seemingly original it is. Of course, the pursuit plot framework is fairly standard, but for the most part, its take on the fantasy genre is something we haven’t seen before. In part due to its mix of comedy and darker drama, but also simply because of how it brings together classic fairytale elements and remoulds them into genuinely interesting and original motifs.
Throughout, I didn’t feel like I was watching a Hollywood blockbuster going through the motions of a typical fantasy film, but rather a fresh, original and lively adaptation of every generic fantasy and fairytale you’ve ever seen, something that I really enjoyed from start to finish.
Overall, I really enjoyed Stardust. It’s no Citizen Kane, but as far as fantasy films go, this is one of the most enjoyable, coherent, compelling and original I’ve seen in a long time, and that’s why I’m giving it a 7.5.