Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Stardust (film review)

I've been keen to see this since seeing the trailer a few months back and then finding out it's based on a book by Neil Gaiman - a British sci-fi/fantasy/horror author with a confounding story-telling style. Years ago NG did a collaborative book with Terry Pratchett called Good Omens, which I maintain is still one of the best books about the 'end times' ever written. It's a hoot too.

So, to the film. Well, Stardust is billed as 'the fairy tale that won't behave', and that's a pretty good summary. Although after Shrek, Hoodwinked and the imminent release of Enchanted, Stardust is more like a classic fairy tale than a demythologising of the genre.

In fact, it's a beautifully filmed, acted and thought through grown up fairy tale. Michelle Pfeiffer is known in our house as 'Mmmmmm, Michelle Pfeiffer' - at least by me; the effect of her Catwoman role on an impressionable 15-year old. Here she does a sterling job as a rapidly aging villain. And as the heroine fallen star Yvaine, Clare Danes simply shines.

But most of the other characters are morally ambiguous - in other words, realistic. The only dip in acting form is one-trick pony David Brent, sorry, Ricky Gervais. But it's satisfying seeing him meet a grisly end (ooh, sorry, spoiler there).

It's a good time to be a fantasy movie fan. Before Stardust, we had a trailer for The Golden Compass, the adaptation of the first of Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy. New Line, of Lord of the Rings fame, are handling it and it looks absolutely awesome.

Beowulf - the father of all fantasy stories - is on the big screen again. Enchanted is coming out soon. And even Elizabeth I is getting a Hollywood makeover into a warrior princess in an epic retelling of the Spanish Armada, which can only be classed as 'historical' in the loosest sense of the word.

Jongudmund's verdict on Stardust: 8.5/10 "Get thee to a cinema."

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