is the kind of magical adventure Harry
Potter should be. I've never felt much of a creative spark
in Potter, just some made up words and magic lightning.
Stardust has a sense of whimsy that keeps all the pretty
pictures feeling magical, not like some CGI concoction.
The fact that all the sons competing for a throne
are named after numbers is a perfectly irreverent take on scheming royalty.
A "nice" pirate with a dual identity, a witch cooing at her magically
young body and more such characters create a world of whimsy, where it really
feels like anything can happen.
The actors get to do things with their characters that I can't recall seeing.
Pfeiffer makes shapes with her lips that even her vampiest roles did not
bring out. DeNiro does the DeNiro face but in boldly different contexts.
He also plays both sides of his character perfectly.
There is not a whole lot of action. The magic scenes involve a lot of special
effects but it's not like running around chasing or fighting. There is a
training montage and a great climax, in which they play with the swashbuckling
chandelier gag brilliantly, but the focus of the film is on magic. It's
just as exciting because it's creative magic. Semantic mishaps with spells
create obstacles along the plot. Spells cast with one intention have different
what's the point of having everything flavored jelly beans. It's not even
that clever an idea. It's just gross. It also helps that Stardust's
magic is set against a real world backdrop. There may be CGI lightning storms
but they are in the middle of real scenic vistas. The flaming hands/lightning
battles still feel the same as the emperor in Star Wars
but it is what it is.
Stardust is a most impressive vehicle for Charlie Cox.
Whereas most action heroes just get to learn some cool moves, he really
makes the progression from innocent to worldly man. Claire Danes is perfectly
adorable as the glowing star, but it is Cox's show and even the veteran
actors serve his triumph.