Are you looking for a feel-good movie that has wit, charm, humor, intelligence, a bit of swashbuckling derring-do and sweet romance? A film offering beautiful location scenery (Scotland, England and Iceland) and a talented cast of Brit and American actors giving memorable performances?
Then might I suggest 2007’s Stardust, a delightful fantasy film centered around the magical kingdom of Stormhold. There’s a race by scheming witches, fratricidal princes and a young man infatuated with the village beauty to capture a star which collided and bonded with a gem as it fell to earth. The witches want the star in order to reclaim their long-ago lost youth; the princes want the gem so they can become the next king of Stormhold and the young man, Tristan, wants to capture the star for the girl he fancies to prove his devotion to her.
There’s a problem: Tristan (Charlie Cox) lives in the village of Wall, and he is never supposed to cross over the wall into Stormhold. His father Dunstan (Nathaniel Parker) reveals that Tristan’s mother was from Stormhold, and she left a Babylon candle for her son, which will allow him to travel to any desired destination.
He lights it and is transported to the location of the star. Much to his surprise, it has a human form, that of a lovely young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes). Much to Yvaine’s dismay, Tristan takes her prisoner, intending to return to his sweetheart Victoria with Yvaine as her gift.
Of course, things do not go as the young man has planned, and a great adventure gets underway that involves a magical inn, a flying ship of pirates who capture lightning, led by Captain Shakespeare (Robert DeNiro) and more.
Danes is absolutely incandescent as Yvaine, even without the help of special effects (her bleached-out eyebrows do take some getting used to, I must admit). Cox is a sweet and likeable hero who undergoes an attractive physical transformation in the course of the film.
Michelle Pfeiffer has great fun as the eldest witch, Lamia, who uses what is left of the three witches’ last captured star to restore her beauty as she tries to chase down the celestial body. Mark Strong is a villain to watch as Septimus, the prince who is pitted against the other remaining brother Primus (Jason Flemying) in an effort to capture the throne. The other five brothers, including Rupert Everett and Julian Rhind-Tutt, are now ghosts (having done each other in) who look in as a sort of Greek chorus and provide amusing commentary on the proceedings. And the narrator for the film is none other than Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen.
The film is based on a 1998 book of the same name by Neil Gamain. Gamain gave his approval to trim portions of the rather large novel to keep the film a reasonable length. The author said he also agreed to a larger dose of whimsy and humor in the film than is found in his book. The author said he preferred the filmmakers depart somewhat from the book and craft an enjoyable film, rather than attempting to slavishly follow the source material and ultimately fail. I have not read the book but I can certainly attest to the creation of a very enjoyable movie.
The film is currently airing on Showtime in the U.S., and is available through Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. It is also available on DVD and Blu-ray at very reasonable prices through Amazon.
It’s something the whole family could enjoy together and it’s definitely not just a chick flick. I could easily see Mr. FL sitting down with me to watch Stardust. This romantic fantasy-dramedy really has a magical quality all its own. Highly recommended.