Stardust (PG-13)

Action/Adventure 128 August 10, 2007
By Robert Wilonsky
This is less an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 1999 novel than of its dust-jacket synopsis. This will come as disconcerting news to fans of the author, whose delicate, jigsaw-puzzle fantasies are populated by contemptuous faeries and sanguine mortals. Lost in Stardust is the poetry of Gaiman’s writing, which is replaced by brute-force storytelling. Still, the story itself is sturdy enough to survive; it’s as old as papyrus itself — a quest tale in which a young man named Tristan (the generic Charlie Cox) must endure myriad perils in order to fetch a fallen star that’s the object of his alleged true love's deepest desire. Alas, the star is far more than a radiant rock; she’s a young woman called Yvaine, played by Claire Danes, who’s also being chased by are a trio of witches, chief among them Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), and two would-be kings. Stardust will accrue many comparisons to Rob Reiner’s The Princess Bride, but director Matthew Vaughn’s variation on the theme isn’t as playful as Reiner’s, and when Stardust does delve into comedy, it fails miserably. Robert De Niro shows up halfway through as a closeted, cross-dressing captain of a high-flying pirate ship, and he’s an utter distraction — a reminder that, hey, this is just a silly movie about silly things starring famous people acting silly.
Matthew Vaughn Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O'Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro Neil Gaiman, Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn Michael Dreyer, Neil Gaiman, Matthew Vaughn, Lorenzo di Bonaventura Paramount Pictures