In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he'll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Starring Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Mark Strong, and Michelle Pfeiffer
Initial Review by Phil Crone
While Stardust does subvert one of the bigger tropes in fairy tales, it ultimately embraces others. This is still a hero’s journey love story. The only difference here is that Tristan took a while to realize who he was after. I did enjoy Charlie Cox & Claire Danes as Tristan & Yvaine, but I never actually bought into their relationship. Why does Yvaine start falling for Tristan after he saves her in the inn? He had to do that to get Victoria! I was still emotionally invested in the ending, but I credit that to caring more about Tristan finding happiness than this relationship actually working. Speaking of the end, it was nice to see Yvaine ultimately save the day, proving to be more than just a damsel.
Getting to that end though is a bit of an issue. Stardust stumbles pretty heavily in the third act. The movie clocks in at 127 minutes, and I have a feeling they could have easily stood to either have 160 minutes or cut out some of the fat. One thing I always appreciate is when every character proves to be vital to the story in some way, and that was the case here. However, the sizes of roles were a little difficult to grasp. Look, I get it… You get Robert De Niro in your movie, you have to feature him. However, a lot of that stuff just didn’t work at all. He wasn’t a funny character, no matter how hard they tried to make him one. Again though, you have to keep him in in some way thanks to training Tristan to fight, getting them closer to the wall, and the lightning catching that proves to be important-ish in the fight with Lamia. And that’s the big issue here. What do you cut? It felt like Matthew Vaughn got to the scene where Tristan and Yvaine were dropped off near the wall, and the clock was already nearing 100 minutes. I’d be curious to see what additional info is in the book, as there were just a handful of bizarre things in the third act with almost no explanation. I felt like we needed some more explanation of Una and the witch that ordered her around. The whole scene where Tristan was turned into a mouse was just bizarre and pointless. Why did the witch feel compelled to do that?
Stardust is a fine fairy tale that likely was a better book than it is movie. I did enjoy my time with it, but I was left a little confused by some of the decisions made. Given that it’s Neil Gaiman, I assume the source material was great, and there’s a great movie in it somewhere. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.
+ Questions some of the tired tropes of the genre
+ Tristan is a character that’s easy to root for
+ All actions prove vital to the story
- Still falls into tropes
- Tough to buy the Tristan/Yvaine relationship
- Captain Shakespeare