(This review contains no spoilers)
It is not often that a movie steps up to the plate and hits a home run, especially when that film is based on a well written book. I am not sure that Stardust, the cinematic interpretation of Neil Gaiman’s book by the same name, quite does that, but it certainly comes close! Director and partial screen writer Matthew Vaughn makes a mark with his second film, as Stardust captures Gaiman’s sense of a playful, adult-appreciated fairytale. The film does not delve into anything overly risqué or gory, but the themes that run throughout the story, although acceptable for slightly younger audiences, are definitely slated to entertain viewers with more life experience. It is this refreshing element that makes Stardust a film to be sure to see on the big screen.
The special effects in the film are tastefully done and lavishly executed. The neither detract from the presentation, nor seem gratuitous, but rather propel the story and are almost unnoticeable despite their brilliance. They are just as special effects should be – part of the plot and in a sense, almost one of the actors with whom the audience must interact and gain that sense of suspension of disbelief.
Casting for Stardust is top-notch, allowing Vaughn to make the movie what he envisioned. Professional performers who embrace the roles completely fill each role, from experienced, seasoned actors like Michelle Pfeiffer, Peter O’Toole, and Robert de Niro to somewhat new comers and smaller part performers, like the young, attractive Olivia Grant, who brings her expertise to the screen just as brilliantly as the actors we have seen for years.
Charlie Cox performs opposite Claire Danes and their mismatched level of experience does not show in the least. They work with and off each other stunningly to make the heart of the story unfold perfectly. Michelle Pfeiffer conjures a delightfully evil disposition and still remains compelling. De Niro takes on a new twist to his usual casting and pulls it off with convincing ease. And while he is never seen in the film, the familiar voice of Ian McKellen brings the entirety of the film’s story together for the audience, offering a welcome consistency to the quality of the presentation.