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Movie Reviews by Kristie Groves

Stardust (2007)
directed by Matthew Vaughn
written by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (based on the novel by Neil Gaiman)
starring Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro
Release Date: August 10, 2007
Review by Kristie Groves

Matthew Vaughn made his directorial debut with the crime thriller Layer Cake (2004), and the result of his efforts delighted audiences and critics alike. His second directorial offering, Stardust, is equally delightful, albeit in a more fantastical direction.

The story of Stardust revolves around a fallen star, which becomes a beautiful young woman when it crashes down to Earth. The star, Yvaine (Claire Danes), is the subject of many seekers, from a band of princes to a trio of powerful witches, to any who would learn of her true identity. Each seeker wants or needs her to fulfill their quest.

The story begins in the village of Wall, a sleepy English town. The main strand of the plot revolves around our hero, a young man called Tristan (Charlie Cox), who is seeking to win the love of his boyhood crush, Victoria (Sienna Miller). He vows to find this fallen star to win Victoria's hand in marriage.

He is quite surprised to find not a meteorite in the crater where the star landed, but instead a beautiful woman who is unsure of how or why she has dropped from the sky. Tristan captures her, only to befriend her along their subsequent journey. They form an alliance as several malicious seekers chase them throughout the Kingdom of Stronghold, a hidden realm where magic exists.

The second strand of the plot focuses on the sons of the dying King of Stronghold (Peter O?Toole). They also seek the star, for she possesses the one thing that can decide which of them will be the heir to the throne. This band of brothers scramble after their goal allowing nothing to stand in their way, not even each other.

Claire Danes and Charlie Cox The third strand involves a trio of witches, headed by Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), who seek the star for the power held within her heart. With this obtained, the witches would be able to achieve youth, beauty, and revitalized energy for their black magic, thus giving them advantages in their world.

Tristan is the key to Yvaine's (the star) safety and throughout their expedition together; they come across many interesting individuals, such as a pirate captain, (Robert De Niro) a shady trader (Ricky Gervais), and many other magnificent surprises.

If Tristan can survive and keep his wits about him, he will solve the mystery of his own history and also come out with his one true love by his side.

This reviewer found the storyline to be well done, with smatterings of Monty Python-style humor. The writer of the original novel (Neil Gaiman) hails from England and inspired the humor found within, and Vaughn pulled off this humor perfectly. The cast of actors (including Ian McKellen as the narrator and Rupert Everett), was phenomenal -- they all pulled off their character portrayals with talent and grace.

Claire Danes was radiant as the star Yvaine, and Charlie Cox definitely had the air of an unspoiled young man in Tristan. I was a bit saddened to not see more of Peter O?Toole, however the presence of superstars such as Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro more than made up for this initial disappointment. Rarely do we see Pfeiffer playing such a mischievous role and she was delightful to watch in her supporting role as Lamia. De Niro also brings some surprises as well within his portrayal, which I will not divulge here.

I was a bit surprised that the visual effects were less than anticipated, based on the movie trailers. I was expecting a bit more magic and flare, such as in the Harry Potter Series. However, the acting talent itself was more pivotal to the success of the story. Although more visual surprises would have quickened the pulse of the movie, the acting was more than enough to make this modern fairy tale a victory for this rising young star of a director, Matthew Vaughn.

Vaughn's career is also a journey of sorts. He attended Stowe School in Buckingham, England. While taking a year off to enjoy a Hard Rock Caf?our, he took a job as a director?s assistant in Los Angeles, before returning to University College London to study anthropology and ancient history. However, his summer job gave him the bug for filmmaking and he returned to L.A to start his career.

He shortly found that the competition was fierce, and he returned to England to try his luck there. However, the film industry is anemic in England in comparison to the United States, so he came back to America to realize his dreams of working in the movie business. And thank goodness- he is now one of the most promising young directors we have.

All in all, I would recommend this movie to those who are drawn to fantasy/adventure tales. The comedy throughout makes this film fun to watch and it is easily a movie that can be enjoyed by all generations. It was definitely worth the admission price and it is enjoyable enough to watch more than once.


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