Stardust

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

A village lies near a gap in a stone wall bordering the magical kingdom of Stormhold. The gap is guarded constantly but Dunstan Thorn manages to go through and meets an enslaved princess, Una. She offers him a glass snowdrop in exchange for a kiss. Nine months later, the Wall Guard delivers a baby to Dunstan, saying his name is Tristan.

Eighteen years later, the dying king of Stormhold throws a ruby into the sky, decreeing that his successor will be the first of his fratricidal sons to recover it. The gem hits a star, they fall together and the remaining sons, Primus and Septimus independently search for the gem.

In Wall, Tristan sees the star fall and vows to get it for the object of his infatuation, Victoria, in return for her hand in marriage. Tristan learns that his mother is from beyond the wall, and receives a Babylon candle that she had left for him, which instantly takes the user to any desired location. Tristan lights it and is transported to the fallen star, personified as a beautiful woman named Yvaine. He promptly chains her to take her home to Victoria.

Three ancient witches in Stormhold resolve to eat the fallen star’s heart to recover their youth and replenish their powers. Their leader, Lamia, eats the remnants of an earlier star’s heart, and sets off to find Yvaine. She conjures up a wayside inn as a trap.

Yvaine becomes tired, so Tristan chains her to a tree and promises to bring food. In his absence, a unicorn releases her but unwittingly takes her to Lamia’s inn. Tristan discovers Yvaine gone, but the stars whisper that she is in danger, telling him to get on a passing stagecoach, which happens to be Primus’s. At the inn, they interrupt Lamia’s attempt to kill Yvaine. Lamia kills Primus, but Tristan and Yvaine use the Babylon candle to escape into the clouds, where they are captured by pirates in a flying ship who teach Tristan how to fence.

Septimus discovers that, as the last surviving son, he need only find the stone to claim the throne. He learns it is in the possession of the fallen star and realises that the heart of a star grants immortality.

After leaving Captain Shakespeare’s ship, Tristan and Yvaine confess their love for one another and spend the night together at an inn. Come morning, Tristan leaves Yvaine sleeping and goes to Wall with a lock of her hair, to tell Victoria he won’t marry her, having fallen in love with Yvaine. When the lock turns to dust, he realises Yvaine will die if she crosses the wall, and rushes back to save her.

Yvaine finds Tristan gone, and starts walking towards the wall, thinking he abandoned her for Victoria. Tristan’s mother Una notices Yvaine walking to her doom, so takes the caravan of her enslaver, a witch named Ditchwater Sal, to the wall to stop her. Lamia arrives, kills Sal, and captures Una and Yvaine, taking them to the witches’ castle. Septimus and Tristan both pursue Lamia, agreeing to work together for the time being. Barging into the castle, Septimus recognises the princess as his long-lost sister and Una informs Tristan that she is his mother.

Septimus and Tristan kill two of the witches, but Lamia uses a voodoo doll to kill Septimus and make his corpse fight Tristan. Lamia is about to finish Tristan off, when she appears to break down over the loss of her sisters. Lamia frees Yvaine but her feigned defeat was just a ruse to bolster Yvaine’s broken heart. As Tristan and Yvaine embrace, their love allows her to shine once again, vaporising Lamia in a blinding flash of starlight.

Tristan retrieves the jewel that Yvaine was wearing. As the jewel turns red, Una explains that, as her son, Tristan is the last male heir of Stormhold. He becomes king with Yvaine as his queen whilst Dunstan and Una are reunited. After 80 years of ruling Stormhold, they use a Babylon candle to ascend to the sky, where Tristan also becomes a star and the pair live forever in the sky.

REVIEW:

Take a minute and think of a film that you know you’ve seen before and liked, but can’t remember much about it. Well, that is Stardust for me. Before this afternoon, I know that I’ve seen this at least 3 or 4 times, but my memory of it is selective, at best. Does that mean this is a bad flick? Only one way to find out!

What is this about?

To win his true love’s heart, wide-eyed Tristan Thorn journeys to a forbidden realm to retrieve a fallen star that has taken human form. But the star is being pursued by an evil witch and others looking to possess her celestial powers.

What did I like?

Fantasy. What is fantasy these days? Have you ever stopped to think about it? Sure, we all have fantasies about a certain dream girl/guy, but that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m speaking on what creatures live in your fantasy world? For me, witches, magicians, knights, dragons, etc., along with the Greek pantheon. Something this film does very well, I think, is capture that fantasy element. We have witches, ghosts, falling stars that take human form, pirates flying through the air, etc. It may be a bit much, but if I never read the book or saw the movie, knowing all those would be included is enough to at least pique my interest. I’m sure that was the intent, and they capitalized on it very well.

Subplot. Peter O’Toole seems to die in everything he’s in except real life! Ok, that was a bad joke, and if I find out the man died after I post this, I am going to feel downright awful! O’Toole, in this film, is apparently the dying king of Stormhold and has 7 sons, all vying for the crown. As they knock each other off, we see their restless spirits linger on. This whole angle doesn’t become important until the final act, but still, it adds a hint of humor and dark themes foreshadow what is to come.

Daredevil vs. Superman. In the last couple of years, Charlie Cox and Henry Cavil have become huge stars, thanks largely in part to their superhero roles as Daredevil and Superman, respectively. Cox is the star of this film, while Cavil makes a couple of cameos. I just found it interesting that in the scenes they have together, the two are fighting over Sienna Miller’s character. So, basically, we have Daredevil and Superman fighting over the Baroness!

What didn’t I like?

Other stars. Claire Danes’ Yvaine is the only star we see, in human form. Understanding that she is fallen, I still wondered why we didn’t see any of the others. It seems to me that maybe one or two of them would have made the trip down to retrieve her, adding another wrinkle to the plot, perhaps? Maybe I just wanted to see more than just the one star, I guess. It isn’t like she was the last one in existence, but the only other star we were privy to seeing was a flashback of one who had her heart eaten by the witches.

Hole in the wall. A wall separates the real world from the fantasy world, so to speak. There is one whole in said wall and it is guarded by an old man, who is deceptively spry. Here is the million dollar question, though. What is to stop someone from going down a ways and just jumping the wall? It isn’t that tall. If anything, it is more of a barrier than a wall. A horse could definitely jump it. Perhaps this is something that the townspeople never thought of when they put the old man in charge of guarding the hole.

Shakespeare. Robert De Niro gives a great performance as the pirate Captain Shakespeare. I won’t reveal some of his eccentric qualities, but it should be known that he plays quite the character. My issue with De Niro is that I feel like this was his chance to play a Captain Hook type, like his friend Dustin Hoffman did in Hook, and it shows. De Niro is more than capable of playing the actual Captain Hook, rather than some bargain bin version. Maybe it is just me that saw the Captain Hook similarities, though.

Sometimes, one just needs to escape to a far off land full of magic and wonder. Stardust provides such an escape. I hate that this film didn’t become a bigger hit, though. It and The Golden Compass were perhaps a few years ahead of their time. Audiences just weren’t ready. Same could be said for Charlie Cox. I will say that I think this would have been a better picture with better witches. Michelle Pfeiffer has never done anything for me, even in the spray in Catwoman suit, and as a witch who thinks she’s still gorgeous, it just doesn’t work. That being said, I’m sure there are those that feel the opposite. To each their own, but this is an example of how to take this film. For some, it will be their perfect cup of tea, and for others, they may prefer something more along the lines of The Princess Bride. So, do I recommend this? Yes, this is one of those pictures that is meant more for entertainment than anything else, and it achieves that goal. Watch and enjoy!

4 out of 5 stars

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2 Responses to “Stardust”

  1. Great review. Stardust is one of my favourites as well.
    I found something to take delight in, for every character in the movie.. From De Niro’s over the top flowery captain to Claire Dane’s sweet hearted/romantic star. I could easily mention something for every character. I think I’m going to have to re-watch and review it myself. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Mystery Man Says:

    Thanks! def re-watch it and let me know what you think!

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