Combustible Celluloid
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With: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, David Kelly, Sienna Miller, Peter O'Toole, Rupert Everett, Ricky Gervais, Ben Barnes, Kate Magowan, Melanie Hill, Henry Cavill, Nathaniel Parker, Frank Ellis, Mark Strong, Jason Flemyng, Mark Heap, Struan Rodger, David Walliams, Julian Rhind-Tutt, Adam Buxton, Sarah Alexander, Joanna Scanlan, George Innes, Jake Curran, Grant Burgin, Mark Williams, Olivia Grant, Peter Goodall, Ian McKellen (narrator)
Written by: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, based on a novel by Neil Gaiman
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some fantasy violence and risque humor
Running Time: 128
Date: 08/09/2007

Stardust (2007)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Joy Story

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) and based on a novel by Neil Gaiman, Stardust is the first summer movie of 2007 that actually celebrates storytelling, rather than concept selling. It revels in the idea of inventing great characters, running them through some spectacular, inventive tribulations and coming out, happier, on the other side. In that, it beautifully mixes and balances humor, adventure and romance better than any movie since The Princess Bride (1987).

Charlie Cox stars as Tristan, a poor nobody in the small English village of Wall, completely ignorant of his extraordinary birth. He's in love with the town beauty, the arrogant Victoria (Sienna Miller), and promises to bring her back a fallen star. The star turns out to be a girl, Yvaine (Claire Danes), and besides Tristan, many others are after her. A dying king (Peter O'Toole) sends his sons after the star, and the winner will inherit the throne. Likewise, an aging witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) wishes to secure the star for its essence of immortality. There's a lot more, and a wonderful Robert De Niro is part of it as a flamboyant sky pirate.

What's truly amazing is how effortlessly Vaughn is able to weave all these storylines and characters into a graceful, beautiful flow without any loss of energy or emotional pull. Tristan and Yvaine take just as much time to fall in love as they need to, no more, no less, and none of the other threads get in the way. Talented character actors (David Kelly, Ricky Gervais, Rupert Everett, etc.), turn up providing little sparks in unexpected corners. I imagine the studio heads are already figuring out ways to leech the soul out of it for future sequels, but for now Stardust brings some much needed joy into the world.

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