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Sunday, April 27, 2008


What Stars Do Best

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Thankfully for screenplay writers Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, the Stardust film adaptation unravels to be an exquisitely fluent fairy tale that even offers a decent dose of elegantly presented "sinisterism" to coat stable, inventive tale mechanics with. Neil Gaiman's book looks and feels quite integral on canvas, - I can say safely, as I never read the text variant - utilizing both fresh, and timeless faces of mass entertainment like Michelle Pfeiffer and the DeNiro Thing. Ever wondered what could happen if a dying King would decide to throw his Sacred Relic Necklace to a Dark Sky with the intention that whichever of his Sons would find it first shall be his successor? Surely, the Sacred Relic Necklace would - quite literally - hit a star on the head, thus the poor planetary entity in question would certainly fall down on Earth. Seven princes do embark on their respective quests to obtain the Necklace, having no clue that the precious item casually knocked some planetary entity down, while two other interests do form their agendas solely on this Star, the Star that have fallen. Turns out such an occurrence is a superb method to sew a ratrace on, one nice matrix of intersecting quests that offers us all the classic formations of interests tales usually deliver, each having a different concept of what to do either with a Fallen Star who happens to wear the Relic of a King, or with the Relic itself, which though is worn by a Fallen Star.

The movie introduces three focal groups of interests plus - well - the Star. Charlie Cox gives you Tristan Thorn, a friendly lad who desperately tries to impress his beloved Victoria, but finds not much luck doing it with Humphrey present in the magical village of Wall they all live in. Humphrey is the local Mr. Popular - imagine what Mr.Unpopular could be like - who represents true charm and masculine appeals to the young ladies of the settlement, so Tristan needs to exhibit humongous ambitions if to conquer the considerable charisma (hah!) of his nemesis.

He spends most of his money he earned last month as shopboy on a bottle of quality champagne that hastily gets consumed with Victoria and Tristan present in the vicinity. All this happens by the time the King of Stormhold decides it is time to leave this plane of existence behind, throwing his Necklace away that knocks the Star down. The sons are after the Relic in the next minute.

Victoria and Tristan do witness the fall of the Star, thus the young man states that he will bring this very precious thing to her loved one to prove his intense feelings to her. Now the buildup already offered two focal interests, yet one is to remain and to be accounted on. Meet the Witches, led by Michelle Pfeiffer who looks and acts quite classy in a highly demanding cartoon-role, also her partners as the Witch Siblings deserve massive credit for their stable, sinister character portrayals that exhibit both the focal traits of sinister seriousness and the aforementioned cartoon-playfulness. Look at the girls!

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The Witches have seen better days, specifically back in the times when they gained an immense amount of magic power via sacrificing a Fallen Star that fell to the Earth 400 years before. Since then the girls have struggled with Uncle Time - uhm - big time, thus the re-occurrence of such a rare event as the falling of a Star catches their interest immensely. They decide which one of them should make a run for the precious thing as they do not possess enough mana to rejuvenate all three of them - thus Miss Pfeiffer becomes the Chosen One, and this is a turn of events that will not likely disappoint you immensely, as Pfeiffer looks blatantly authentic as sinister witch, definitely a trademark element of the buildup.

Let us elaborate on the Sons for a bit. Stardust is packed with actually quite stable, sometimes even brilliant moments of sober, cunning humor, an example of this welcomed aspect I liked very much is how the long-dead Sons of the King that have failed to capture the Throne ended and still do up in a Ghost-Existence. Seems the King had a whole collection of descendants, and they definitely had a hard time of co-existing, by the time the movie starts out you have six or seven of them revealed in the Ghost-Existence we mentioned, sitting around with their astral bodies, giving you an absolutely clear history of how exactly they died. Causes are hardly natural here. Mark Strong gives you Septimus, seemingly the most tenacious of the living Siblings, the quest for the Necklace is mainly presented from HIS point of view - not surprisingly, as he acts according to quite radical measures to make sure that no other Son than himself will obtain the Relic.

Claire Danes gives us Yvaine, the Fallen Star. She and Tristan will meet in the early section of the narrative, thus all the elements are set in motion to deliver you a fairy tale experience foam which remains absolutely clueless of the concept of pauses and stops, it rather chooses to sew a nice, smooth narrative of a ratrace to introduce memorable settings and scenes between-or to rely on the focal characters.

Stardust primarily seems as a quite stable adventure effort that has no problem whatsoever recognizing portions of itself that could be utilized to spice the focal appeals of the experience with highly acceptable elements of surprise, inputs to voice the language of firm, actually quite proper and quite black humor, mainly. As hinted, the movie introduces totally memorable sequences to squeeze honest laughs out of even the sourest of viewers. This is not something I write down at every corners as I myself am immensely serious about humor and consider only the best of it as acceptable or worth to introduce. I got the feeling that the creative team behind Stardust feels the same way about this special mental entity and have proven they have a very good sense of it.

The movie has the fortunate quality that it introduces a quite original story arc with elements that are extremely easy to understand and relate to, though exhibiting the capacity to imbue whole series of special appeals to each interests and characters it operates with. These elements might be minor, yet highly effective subtleties as the Ghost Siblings whom have "no other function" than to pour pure, proper fun on the buildup, or these seemingly just-supportive traits easily could turn up as immensely significant later on, like the Shining Yvaine exhibits when she feels intense joy.

Boss Monster

A little side-role of Robert DeNiro is of note here, he gives you a defendable performance as Captain Shakespeare, but nothing particular is demanded, nor offered: DeNiro delivers you his charming side, and delivers it steadily. At the end of the day Stardust weights in as a highly recommendable piece of entertainment, exhibiting no deficits concerning inventive fiction and fluent qualities that give proper place for proper surprises and oftentimes, brilliant humor. At the Final Showdown, Stardust offers a row of very memorable peek moments of narrative value that would be immensely wrong to regard as not massively significant from a storytelling-point of view. Mild spoiler in this section from now on, pleas skip if you did not yet see the movie. I do refer to the scene where The Witch seemingly undergoes a honest internal change via desperation, just to come back Superevil, dominating the canvas effectively twice as powerful as she did previously - mind you, that wasn't too bad at all, either.

Fortunately, the general stance towards Stardust proved to be positive from the audience, thus there might be potential/danger - you decide - of a sequel, regardless how this installment reaches an absolutely satisfying conclusion. I tend to think this is all good, clean, and wrapped up nicely, protagonists probably should not be tinkered with, let alone resurrected. Either way, as a fairy tale taking the liberty to rely both on inventive story mechanics and black humor, Stardust is easily among the most integral outputs this kind of entertainment produced so far.

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