“Stardust,” frankly, surprised me. Those of you who know me at all are aware of the fact that fantasy is my favorite genre in both movies and books, so whenever a movie that even hints at something other-worldly is released; it is on my personal Must See list. Therefore, I headed to the theater with happy anticipation, my eager daughter again with me, and was not at all disappointed. My surprise was in discovering it to be far better than I had imagined based on the clips I had seen.
In brief: Narrated by Sir Ian McKellen, the tale is set initially in 19th century England. A young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox), who has an interesting lineage, sets off on a quest to retrieve a fallen star for his demanding sort-of girlfriend Victoria (Sienna Miller). To obtain the proof of his affection, he must cross through the mysterious Wall near his humble village; the wall that no one is supposed to cross. Obviously he manages to do so and the adventures begin! He does find his fallen star, but is shocked to discover it is a beautiful woman (Claire Danes) rather than the lump of stone he expected. Still, he is determined! Taking his unwilling treasure with him, he embarks on the journey back to England. Naturally nothing goes right. Aside from the fact that the Star, Yvaine, has an incredibly strong will, they soon discover that she is hunted by others. A group of nasty Princes who desire to be named King are seeking her. But even worse is the evil witch Lamia (the stunningly luminous Michelle Pfeiffer) who will literally stop at nothing to retrieve the star, whose heart is needed for Lamia to survive.
Tristan and Yvaine must eventually work together in order to survive the threats against them. Aided by a cross-dressing, show tune loving Air Pirate named Captain Shakespeare (the ever brilliant Robert DeNiro), the young people gradually overcome the obstacles against them, the greatest being recognizing and accepting the emotions in their own hearts.
Yes, it is a love story! No big surprise there. But it is also very funny with hilarious performances by Ricky Gervais, Mark Strong, and Rupert Everett, among others. There is a tremendous amount of action with sword fights, startling magic, extreme tension as you wonder what is going to happen next, a number of surprising twists along the way, and a wonderfully filmed final battle between the forces of evil and the forces of good driven by love. Every actor was fabulous, the cinematography excellent, the dialogue witty, the visual effects superb, the romance sweet, the timeless moral of true love conquering all shining through the drama, and the fun of adventure lacing beautifully throughout.
It is a modern fairy tale with all the standard elements and many unexpected ones. In the end we are reminded that true love is worth fighting for and happily-ever-after can be attained with perseverance. I highly recommend this movie for all but perhaps the youngest of children who may be sensitive to the fantasy violence.