Stardust Matthew Vaughn

Stardust Matthew Vaughn

Matthew Vaughn’s cinematic adaptation of Neil Gaimen’s graphic novel, Stardust, is possibly the most widely enjoyable fantasy adventure since the days of Willow and The Princess Bride.

The plot sets up a straightforward enough fantasy romance: a young man named Tristan, raised in the English village of Wall but born in a magical land sealed away on the other side of the town’s namesake, vows to prove his love for his dream girl, the opportunistic Victoria, by bringing her back a fallen star from beyond the wall. Nothing is quite as it seems beyond the wall and Tristan is drawn into a rollicking quest for the heart of celestial beauty Yvaine. To complicate matters, a coven of animal-gut divining witches want to eat the heart to attain eternal youth, and three princes haunted by the ghosts of their dead brothers also seek the star to prove their right to the throne.

The construction of the film is quite marvellous, from the impressive and epic, but not overbearingly flashy, special effects and cinematography to the balance between the delicious scenery chewing of Robert DeNiro’s flamboyant lightning pirate and Michelle Pfeiffer’s beauty-obsessed, withering crone, and the humble reserved charm of the younger leads.

Claire Danes’ measured tenderness and detachment as Yvaine is as fitting as her natural radiance, and Charlie Cox is a tremendously likeable leading man we hope to see a lot more of. By carefully blending the goofy and whimsical with the horrid and grotesque, Stardust creates a world that should be equally enthralling to children and adults alike.

The story’s genius is in its subversion of familiar fantasy conventions, forcing adults to remember the magical wonder of childhood while introducing younger audiences to unconventionally mature scenarios for a PG-13 movie. Vaughn’s careful but uncompromising handling of Gaimen’s darkly funny but moral fantasy has created a modern classic. (Paramount)