Stardust (2007) mini review

based on a comic

So, technically, is Stardust a comic book movie? Well...it's actually a storybook, laden with illustrations. Not the same form of sequential art as you're used to seeing in a comic. However, it was published by a comic book company, written by a comic book writer (though he has also written several novels), published under a comic book imprint, in a comic book format, as a comic book mini series.

Close enough.

Stardust (Being A Romance Within The Realm of Faerie) was written by Neil Gaiman, and published by DC Comics under the Vertigo imprint as a 4-issue mini-series in 1997, illustrated by Charles Vess. The mini was collected, then novelised by Gaiman, with some modifications (take a look at some of the questions Gaiman answers at that last link). And if you watch the film, it notes that it's based on the novel. I was able to pick up the original series and am excited to read it now that I've seen the movie. Unfortunately, the film didn't meet the extremely high hopes I had for it; my wife on the other hand (not into comic book movies or fantasy) was not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised. I guess it depends on what we take into it.

Stardust is the story of Tristran, who crosses the wall at the edge of his village into a magical realm in pursuit of a fallen star for his true love. Easier said then done, when a trio of witches and a bevy of princes are after the same thing. It's a magical tale which I'm sure doesn't do the original justice. That's a pretty big assumption, given that I haven't read the original and that I'm not even overly familiar with Gaiman's work (*gasp*), but I just have a feeling. Directed by Matthew Vaughn (in negotiations to direct the upcoming Thor), the overall idea was amazing, and the acting was excellent. Charlie Cox was good as Tristran, and Claire Danes was great as Yvaine. Some of the bigger names in the film include Robert Deniro, Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns), Peter O'Toole (Supergirl) , and Rupert Everett. Other parts include Jason Flemyng (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, From Hell) and Melanie Hill (From Hell).

But, the movie was just ok; it really seemed to be missing something. The humor seemed shoehorned in, as if the funny parts were added in later to make it appeal to a larger audience. And the story just didn't seem to flow well, as if parts were cut from a larger story and sewn back together.

It was good, but it just should have been more. I think I was also disappointed in the fact that it didn't seem like the Realm of Faerie was truly a different world from ours. It just seemed like our world with a bit more magic.

You might ask how I can give Stardust and Underdog the same rating. Part of my philosophy for rating movies is to understand the genre. The latter is intended to be a silly family movie based on a corny old cartoon. The former is a serious fantasy based on a story by one of today's foremost authors and comic writers. I think they succeeded at about the same level.

See it if you you're jonesing for a light-hearted fantasy film.

Don't see it if you expect to be blown away by a film adapted from Gaiman's work; maybe you should just rent Mirrormask or wait for Death: The High Cost of Living.


Victor said...

Finally, someone else who agrees with my assessment of this movie! I gave it a pretty weak review over at my site ScreenRant.com as well!


Jim said...

I went back and read your review - I think we're pretty much on the same page, though I might have enjoyed Cox's and Dane's performance a little more.

I truly am surprised at the glowing reviews this is getting.

I don't often agree with him, but I like what Roger Ebert wrote about it, which is funny, considering the comments on your review:

"I liked it, but "The Princess Bride" it's not."