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Overall Rating

Awesome: 36.11%
Worth A Look40.28%
Average: 2.78%
Pretty Bad: 19.44%
Total Crap: 1.39%

9 reviews, 18 user ratings

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by William Goss

"'Dust Or Bust"
4 stars

Yes, the boy will become a man, and the guy will get the girl. That much is certain. Those aren’t spoilers, but rather universally understood truths regarding the concept of epic storytelling, especially with regard to fantasy, and particularly in terms of fairy tales. It is therefore a testament to the imagination and charm at work in Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s 'Stardust' that such a seemingly typical tale works as well as it does.

In the English village unwittingly neighboring the borders of the fantastical realm of Stormhold, Tristan (solid newcomer Charlie Cox) and Victoria (Sienna Miller) spot a falling star, which he swears to retrieve for her in a last-ditch attempt to win her over. Off he goes, unaware that the fallen star – having now taken the human form of Yvaine (Claire Danes, because Gwyneth Paltrow) must've been busy) – is also sought by several heirs to the Stormhold throne, not to mention a trio of witches, led by the especially wicked and equally vain Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer, having a blast), seeking the star’s youth-restoring powers.

Ambitious in a relative sense and satisfying in a rare one, matters get off to a slow start as the multiple story threads are set up and set off on their parallel and inevitably converging journeys. The narration of Sir Ian McKellen certainly doesn’t hurt in terms of lending an immediate sense of granduer to the tale about to unfold, and the early appearance of Peter O’Toole as Stormhold’s ailing ruler only reinforces the notion of proper, almost distinctly British fantasy to come.

After all of that, director Vaughn (Layer Cake) and co-writer Jane Goldman then bring to the proceedings a self-steadying sense of humor that livens the chase considerably. The slain siblings of seventh son Septimus (Mark Strong) hang around as a ghastly makeshift chorus on his trek, a goat turned human finds his more animalistic tendencies hard to shake, a man turned woman finds his more animalistic tendencies hard to shake, Ricky Gervais does what he does best as a fast-talking fence, and the lightning-harnessing sky pirate that Tristan and Yvaine come to encounter harbors a rather unexpected personality beneath his gruff façade.

It’s actually De Niro’s performance as said sky pirate that singularly shifts Stardust from the level of mere curiosity to worthwhile entertainment, a character who plays off rough expectation only to reveal something genuine underneath just as effectively as the film itself does. The humor is clever enough to hook those who remain unhooked by the more fanciful charms of the characters and circumstances, in a way that brings to mind The Princess Bride. Even a climactic swordfight bears its own off-kilter, if mildly morbid flourish.

There’s an eagerness to entertain on either end of the camera that most Hollywood product goes without on a woefully continuous basis, from its cheeky prologue to the most sincere happily-ever-after since 'Shrek' decided to wink such matters up, so while 'Stardust' may fall with a familiar arc, it shines no less brightly along the way.

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originally posted: 08/13/07 13:46:30
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User Comments

4/09/09 Justin I thought it was great. 5 stars
11/28/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
3/19/08 Me, why? A load of old fluff. Fairy tales tries to be more than a fairy tale. 1 stars
1/07/08 Dina Kind of weird, but interesting. It won me over - Pfeiffer & De Niro are a hoot 4 stars
1/05/08 Ellen Engrossing plot, beautiful sets, and a touch of humor made it a fun ride. 4 stars
11/15/07 Alice Yawn... 2 stars
10/15/07 Keystra Williams I thought it was wonderful. Too bad it tanked. 5 stars
9/17/07 Susannah Strange, sweet & fun! 4 stars
9/02/07 Greybird Every word seconded. Thrilling originality. Intricate plots give grist for brain and heart. 5 stars
8/22/07 robin wonderfully entertaining from start to end. a must have for my home library 5 stars
8/20/07 Meschelle Too much going on. 3 stars
8/19/07 jcjs trite but not, a story, wonderful images, fresh, acting, wonderful, humorous, beautiful 5 stars
8/17/07 Nessus All of the parts fit together well, good pacing, good balance of comedy and drama 5 stars
8/15/07 Dan Charming, magical and fun. De Niro and Pfeiffer chew the scenery wonderfully. 4 stars
8/14/07 kelly Best movie of the year, and i'm not a fantasy fan! 5 stars
8/13/07 BrianWilly It felt like someone made a movie out of an old Sierra game, and that's a good thing. 5 stars
8/12/07 Bill Gosse Pretty bad. If you like it, you hate actual whimsy. 2 stars
8/11/07 Ole Man Bourbon One of the goofier movies I've ever seen. The Princess Retard. 3 stars
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  10-Aug-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 18-Dec-2007



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