Steampunk Movie Review: Stardust (2007)
Wow, it is hard to believe that this movie is already 9 years old! It’s like earlier this week when I was working at Michael’s and a Sheryl Crow song came on over the radio. My bright-eye co-worker was all “Aww, Sheryl Crow. I remember this from my childhood!” and I am thinking I totally used to make out to this song in high school…
But I digress. Stardust is a fabulous film both written and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men First Class). And even more importantly, the film is based on a book by my all-time favorite author, Neil Gaiman. He is best known for his off-kilter and often creepy tales such as Neverwhere and Coraline, but this particular work is a bit of a departure from his normal style. I have seen others liken it to works such as The Princess Bride, and I think this is a fair comparison. As is always the case, the film is not a verbatim copy of the book, but I actually really liked the time that the movie departs from the text, and they fit so well that I have to imagine that Gaiman signed off on the changes himself.
The story centers on Tristan, a most unlikely hero (Charlie Cox, from Daredevil on Netflix). He lives in a small town in the English countryside where nothing much ever happens. At least, not on his side of the enchanted wall that runs along the borderland. In an effort to win his lady love’s affections, he promises to cross the wall and retrieve the falling star they see on her birthday. Little do they know that when a star falls on the other side of the wall, it bears little resemblance to hunks of rock we sometimes find over here (Claire Danes).
The star was knocked from her perch when she was hit by royal heirloom. The king of Stormhold is dying, and in his frustration at his sons (who simply will not get on with the business of murdering each other) he flings the necklace into the sky and says that the prince who retrieves it will become the next king. A band of witches also witness the falling star (including Michelle Pfeiffer’s character, Lamia), and they need her light to stay young and powerful. With all of these factions in pursuit, what is a poor star to do? Perhaps hitching a ride on a flying ship will get her closer to her sisters in the sky, if only she and Tristan and dodge the forces who are chasing them.
The cast is fantastic and besides those I have already named you will see appearances by Peter O’Toole, Rupert Everett, Mark Strong, Ricky Gervais, and Robert de Niro as a fabulous (and I do mean fabulous) skyship captain. This film is funny and heart-warming, and there is even a bit of Gaiman’s special brand of creepy-coolness that will keep surprising you all through the film. It may be a fairy tale, but this is not your average Goose or Grimm.