Overall: 19/20 – A
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Actors: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Sienna Miller, Mark Strong, Michelle Pfeiffer
I’m a sucker for a good fairytale. Always have been. Probably always will. The best kinds have kings, princes, princesses, magic, and pirates. Or maybe that’s just Stardust, released in 2007. A fairytale conceived by Neil Gaiman, it had mixed reviews in theaters but ended up being one of those movies that developed a cult following. Tagged as the “Fairytale that won’t behave,” and narrated by Sir Ian McKellen himself, it features all the requisite characters plus many more, and follows the epic and unconventional journey taken by its main lead to become a man.
The Plot – There exists in the world a kingdom known as Stormhold. Upon the king’s death, what remains of his seven sons engage on an epic quest to find a jewel that will grant upon the lucky finder the right to rule the kingdom. Along the way, if they should so happen to murder their siblings in an effort to reach the jewel first, so be it. Meanwhile, on the other side of a magical Wall which guards the kingdom and is the realm of us mortal folk, a young lad, named Tristan, struggles to win the heart of his one true love and navigate the pitfalls of becoming an adult. In order to fulfill his promise her, he vows to cross The Wall and bring her back a fallen star to gain her hand in marriage. Unknown to him, the fallen star has actually taken the shape of a woman named Yvaine and it was in fact the magical jewel that knocked her out of the sky to begin with. As Tristan and Yvaine make their way toward the wall and his village they must contend with witches who seek to eat her heart (to revitalize their magic), the princes who seek the jewel she carries, and some well-meaning pirates led by a cross-dressing Robert De Niro. Along the way, they learn what they are made of and what true love can be.
It is a fantastical story filled with witches, ghosts, soothsayers, pirates, princes, princesses, and magic. In other words, it’s got all the hallmarks of a great story. Luckily, the writers and author knew how to weave such a tale. There are no lagging times, the dialogue is witty, snappy, and meaningful. There is character development in spades which is unusual for this type of movie. And the ending perfectly wraps up everything and leaves no questions unanswered.
The Acting – There are so many familiar faces in this movie. And happily enough, they play more than just bit characters. Michelle Pfeiffer is beautifully evil as the witch Lamia. Whether she’s young and beautiful or old and spotted (her character switches between both), she is perfectly cast. Robert De Niro as stated, plays a cross-dressing pirate who works hard to maintain order with his crew. It is clearly seen in the movie that he is having a blast playing his pirate. One of the main princes is actually Mark Strong. His voice is menacing, his actions terrible, and he is so much fun to watch. This brings us to our two main characters, Tristan and Yvaine. Tristan is played by a young Charlie Cox. While he is now known for playing Marvel’s Daredevil, he actually has not had that many credits to his name which is a true tragedy. He delivers the dialogue with finesse and plays brilliantly off of Claire Danes as Yvaine. Danes has had a host of movies to her name and she plays the sarcastic star with great aplomb. She is amazing in this role. Other notable names in this movie include Rupert Everett, Henry Cavill, Ricky Gervais, Mark Williams, Peter O’Toole, and Sienna Miller. As stated, there is a lot of star power in this movie – pun intended. They all work seamlessly into the plot and every actor blends into their role (with the exception of De Niro – but it’s hilarious to watch).
The Visuals – There are only a handful of true sets: the pirate ship, the witches lair, the tavern, and the village of Wall. The attention to detail on these sets, however, is impeccable and all feel very authentic. The sweeping vistas are gorgeous for their treks across country. The magical elements are usually just a green mist or are seamless shifts of bodies, and there’s honestly not a whole lot of CGI involved. Which for a fantasy film is actually unheard of. The costumes are periodic and well tailored. Everything is very colorful and all colors are used which is a nice change of pace whereas nowadays most movies have one cool color palette and no warm colors. However there are plenty of vibrant greens, blues, yellows, oranges, and whites involved in this movie which make it visually very pleasing to watch.
The Music – The music in this movie makes me so happy. Written by Ilan Eshkeri it has exciting sweeping moments that do exactly what a musical score should – push the energy forward. The sweeping orchestral movements carry you away and make every moment a memory. The flying ship song is the perfect spirit of adventure as is the epic chases scenes at the beginning. There are no dull moments where this soundtrack is concerned and is an excellent representation of how music should be written for movies. The goal is to enhance the action without overwhelming it and Eshkeri pulls it off.
Overall: this movie is truly a classic fairytale and is one that can be watched over and over again. The acting is as magical as the story itself and all the elements work. It is a well crafted movie which is hard to find in the current climate of shoot -em up superhero movies (which I stil love – but for different reasons).
Adults: The perfect adult fairytale filled with excitement, adventure, and love. A good movie to watch if you have any love of fairytales or kings and queens.
Children: Suitable for older children, there are some scenes that might be scary for true littles. But it’s a sound fairytale that will enchant them even if they don’t necessarily understand all of the quips.