Monday, October 08, 2007


I went with a friend to see Stardust recently. She told me on the way that she did not like violence. She hates Tim Burton, as his movies are prone towards violence. Oh, this isn't Tim Burton, I replied. It's Neil Gaiman, whose graphic novels and movies are prone towards...

And let me just say right here and now: there are many ways to die in this movie. Just ask any prince. Falling. Drowning. Stabbing. Being zapped by a witch. Many ways. Most of them funny.

A young man named Tristan (played winningly by Charlie Cox) tries to win the heart of his rather cold but beautiful girl in the 'hood (played by Sienna Miller) by finding and bringing her a fallen star. The fallen star is actually a girl (played by Claire Danes), and whomever retrieves her has much to win.

The plot sounds simple, but it's actually several threads that, due to excellent writing, come together at the end in a most satisfying way.

The actors are all charming, and the big actors are even moreso. Michelle Pfeiffer plays the bad witch, Lamia, who seeks the star to make her and her evil sisters young again. She plays comedy so well in this movie -- who knew? And she is still stunningly beautiful, which makes it altogether bewitching that she should choose to look so old and ugly in many of the scenes.

You've never seen Robert DeNiro like this! He plays Captain Shakespeare, captain of an airship and its pirates. And he has to maintain a certain ne'er-do-well reputation that is getting harder and harder to achieve.

And all the princes who die come back to life. Well, not life, really, but an in-between zone, looking gray and how they actually died -- sometimes with an ax still in the head -- waiting for the last heir to ascend the throne vacated by that old king, Peter O'Toole. The princes are our chorus, commenting on what's going on. And they are hilarious.

The characters are wonderfuly drawn, truthfully acted, and the film is a wonder to behold.

My friend had a wonderful time. It's a fable, she said to me before the movie started. How much violence could there be? Well, a lot. But even the dead characters in this one have a good time.

Thumb's up.


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