Director: Matthew Vaughn
Running time: 127 minutes
Synopsis and Evaluation
Neil Gaiman has been around for some time now. He rose to fame with works such as Stardust and American Gods. Due to the impatience of yours truly, I haven’t read any of his works. Well, I do not read that much. In any case, I tried to divulge myself in his American Gods but it never appealed to me. It bored that hell out of me right off the bat. I halted at around the hundredth page and never picked up the book again.
So I went to the cinema expecting nothing from this adaptation. Well, I did the right thing.
Stardust is about a chase for the fallen star that caters to the intentions and desires of those who could acquire it. Tristan wants it to prove his “undying” love to the beautiful but superficial Victoria (Sienna Miller) who would give her hand in exchange for the star. Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) moves heaven and earth to regain her lost youth. The three heirs of the King will cease lives just to become the next ruler of Stormhold. Sounds like a good premise for what should be an above-average film, right? Unfortunately, the film falls flat in many aspects.
For one, the dialogue is sketchy and forced… very unnatural. There are numerous cheesy interplays between characters that would make you bow down your neck in utter embarrassment. That’s right. The movie makes you cringe and feel awkward. One scene encapsulates this — Tristan said to Victoria “Victoria, for your hand in marriage, I’d cross oceans.” Victoria retorted “You’re funny, Tristan.” The problem with this scene is not the lines per se but how the actors executed the scene. Which brings me to my second gripe — acting.
This film accentuates the experience gap between the youngsters and the experienced ones. Robert De Niro masterfully played his role as the “secret” drag queen who has a rather imposing reputation. Additional commendations to the Princes at the Slaughterhouse who injected the much-needed humor to this otherwise dull movie. Michelle Pfeiffer also did a good job of portraying the ruthless witch Lamia.
The problem starts with Charlie Cox who played the lead role Tristan. I don’t know why he was chosen for this role aside from his rather good looks. Same case to Daniel Radcliffe of the Harry Potter fame probably. He is stiff, bland and generic. Boring in every sense of the word. Claire Danes who played the role Yvaine, while she looks dazzling, leaves much to be desired from her performance. There’s something lacking in her output that I cannot pinpoint exactly what it is.
While problems linger throughout the film, the audience were treated to a trip to dazzling locations and good special effects. The cinematography is dark, murky and gloomy to create the tension and atmosphere for the movie. This symbolizes the contamination of the soul brought about by the greed that consumes the individuals pursuing the star. It also emphasizes the importance of light that is emitted from a star.. without the stars, our world will be consumed by oblivion. Another point was made in a scene where the strands of hair of Yvaine were transformed into dust. Love is a double-edged sword… it can make or destroy you.
One notable observation is the time of day Tristan courts Victoria. During the first parts of the movie, courting occurred during the night. But when Tristan finally realized that Victoria is not the woman he really loves, he said this to her during day time. This change from the darkness of the night to the brightness of day time signifies the emancipation of Tristan from confusion… from blindness… from superficial admiration to an acceptance of reality and truth.
The Final Word
The film tries to be a fantasy movie in epic and grandeur proportions. The premise of the film certainly points to that direction. Unfortunately, it failed miserably by reducing the film to a showcase of special effects and cheesy dialogue. It’s not that bad but better keep your expectations low before seeing the movie to avoid being disappointed. Caveat emptor.