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Stardust," based on the best-selling graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, takes audiences on an adventure that begins in a village in England and ends up in places that exist in an imaginary world. A young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) tries to win the heart of Victoria (Sienna Miller), the beautiful but cold object of his desire, by going on a quest to retrieve a fallen star. His journey takes him to a mysterious and forbidden land beyond the walls of his village. On his odyssey, Tristan finds the star, which has transformed into a striking girl named Yvaine (Claire Danes).]Young man takes journey in strange world to find star.]0]]Matthew Vaughn]]]Charlie Cox]Claire Danes]Michelle Pfeiffer]Robert De Niro]Sienna Miller]Ricky Gervais]Jason Flemyng]Rupert Everett]Henry Cavill]
Additional Scenes: Candlight Small Talk, Lift the Stone, Carriage Game, Goat Man, The Next Ruler of Stormhold
Trailers: Theatrical Trailer
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The blu-ray presentation: 3 stars
Stardust is a mature fairy tale with a lot to offer. The cast and their performances are outstanding. The story is interesting and well off the beaten track, and so it is consistently surprising. It is moving and exciting, with plenty of variety in terms of magical creatures, evil witches, a missing princess, competing princes, and two young men (years apart) who have gone past "The Wall" to visit a magical land.
Neil Gaiman's novelette upon which the movie is based was quite popular. It was so popular that there are a large number of fans who severely criticize this movie for the plot differences. I have two answers to make to that charge. First, its a rare movie that doesn't make plot changes from the source material. Even the highly acclaimed "Lord of the Rings" trilogy did that, and at times by a wide margin. Anyone expecting a movie to be a scene by scene rehash of the written source just isn't paying attention to the real world. Second, Neil Gaiman was personally involved in the production of this movie. Whatever changes were made, they had his blessing. Just to fact check this, I found and read Gaiman's blogs from the time this movie was in production and release. I could find no complaints at all concerning anything about the movie, including the direction of the story.
I find that the movie bears up under repeated viewings quite well. I've seen it myself six times over the last three years.
As for the blu-ray, I found it to be quite disappointing. The first few times I saw the film was in its HD presentation on PPV movie channels. I found that presentation to be gorgeous. The costuming, set decoration, and scenery in the film are rich in detail and color, and viewing the images of the film was as entertaining as the story. In contrast, the blu-ray, even though it has all the color, does not supply nearly as sharp a picture as the HD movie channel version. Some scenes look great. Others are needlessly grainy. I can only conclude that not much time or expense was undertaken in this blu-ray transfer. I know that this movie was first released in HD-DVD as a hi-def format. I'm left to wonder if it was transferred directly from that HD-DVD version to blu-ray, with some quality lacking in the HD-DVD version that caused it to not transfer well to the blu-ray format. Unfortunately, you'll find that most of the reviews here of the blu-ray version were made BEFORE the release, I suppose hoping to get a leg up on Helpful votes. Many of them say, "This film will look FANTASTIC on blu-ray". Well, it looks OK, but it doesn't look fantastic.
My criticism of the blu-ray version does not extend to the sound. The sound effects and score are impressive and satisfying. Voice levels are well matched. You do not have to strain to hear dialog over the music and sound effects, as is sometimes the case.
Overall, if you are a fan of the movie itself and already own a blu-ray player, I recommend this version. Just don't expect more than it actually offers in the way of visual presentation. Sadly, since the film did not surpass its production budget in general release, the studio probably did not expect wide base of support for the DVD/blu-ray release. So I don't expect the unimpressive visual transfer on the blu-ray will ever be corrected in a future release.
The only real flaw I find in the movie is surprising Robert De Niro's character, a secretly gay air-pirate. The character is written in a way that is hard not to see as willfully parodying gay men. I don't know that I'd call it a homophobic portrayal necessarily, but it does hearken back to foppish stock characters. There is nothing wrong with what we might call a more effeminate gay man, but there is very little by way of plot to suggest validation of the character's true self, choosing rather to make him a long-running gag character (though he is essential to the plot). With the three overlapping quests of Charlie Cox's young hero, the prince fraternity, and the witch sisters, the narrative is able to intersect them is so many different ways--all of which are entertaining and artistically reverent to the fantastic. The film does an excellent job of ranking the threat level by making Lamia's quest more covert, and thus more dangerous to anyone standing in her way. The revelations of the conclusion are so beautifully done and presented in a natural way. It's undoubtedly a fun film, but I'm very proud of its artistic merit. The film never seeks to cash in on those craving fantasy narratives: it only adds richness to the genre.
I love Claire Danes in everything she does, and she certainly doesn't disappoint here, glowing becomes her.
And, despite other reviewers criticisms of Charlie Cox as the male lead rather than a more well-known actor such as Orlando Bloom, Cox holds his own and shines exceptionally strong in this delightful storybook adventure.
Every supporting actor, from Michelle Pfeiffer, Mark Strong, Peter O'Toole to Ricky Gervais, contributes in a special way, truly captivating and transporting the mind and heart.
But truth be told, in the end, I think it is Robert De Niro that steals the show. Clothing diva fashionista and hairstylist conniosseur extraordinaire De Niro hits the funnybone with just the right beat. The best of all is when he dresses up in makeup and women's clothing, flutters his feather fan and pirouettes around his ship's cabin all while classical music is thundering in the background. Spectacular! What a good belly laugh! Absolutely marvelous!
For a delightful movie-night-in with the family, every age will find themselves smiling ear-to-ear throughout, and dreaming swashbuckling dreams of their own.
Grab the popcorn, you're in for a treat!