I had extreme reservations about seeing this film, mainly due to the nonexistent or negative publicity surrounding it mainly due to the fact that there have been a number of fairy tale movie disappointments in recent times like "Chronicles of Narnia" or "Polar Express". It didn't matter that Neil Gaiman wrote it, because I wasn't sure if he could write the type of movie I would like anyway. (Actually, Jane Goldman and Director Matthew Vaughn wrote the screenplay.)
Anyway, I am happy to say, and with Lee's encouragement to go see it, that "Stardust" is the surprise movie of the year and ranks up there with "Grindhouse" as my two favorite movies of 2007 and is a contender for one of my favorite movies of all time.
It has in its cast some of my favorite actors of all time like Robert DeNiro (in one of his best roles) and Peter O'Toole, and others that I respect very well like Michelle Pfeifer and Claire Danes. But good actors do not necessarily make a good movie, nor does good directing alone, which is done by Matthew Vaughn, who has only directed "Layer Cake", previously, but is in line to direct the upcoming "Thor". Good writing does! If you don't have a good script in the first place, the old "you can't polish a turd" phrase applies.
Speaking of casting choices, Lee asked me once what woman is my type. I have never heard of or seen Kate Magowan before, but I was immediately entranced by her appearance and her performance, and she isn't even the main star. And of course, there's good eye candy with Sienna Miller and even Claire Danes, who doesn't come off as plain as she usually does.
The movie is at once very fantastical and is paced very well. There is a lot of humor and at once reminds me of "The Princess Bride", but unlike that film's jarring returns to Peter Falk and Fred Savage, this movie stays in its fairy tale setting the entire time. It also reminds me of two other films that I enjoyed very much, "Time Bandits" and the recent "Nanny McPhee". "Stardust" is better and is a definite must see that should be seen on the big screen to be fully enjoyed. The visual effects, though plentiful, do not burden down the proceedings as the story is consistently the main focus, not the effects.
Without spoiling anything, there are three storylines going on that actually tie up very nicely by the end of the film. One is of a dying king (O'Toole) telling his surviving sons what they need to do to become the next heir to the throne; a second is of three witches (the main one being Pfeiffer) who need to find another solution to help refresh their lost beauty; and the final one is the story of Tristan (Charlie Cox) who wants to marry the beautiful Victoria (Sienna). She concedes to do so if he can fulfill this one task. Through a number of twists and turns, it is accomplished with great satisfaction and with some surprising results. Ian McKellan handles the narration chores throughout and although I am usually against excessive narration in a movie, this is done very well.
Despite some violence, this is really a movie that the entire family can enjoy and be entertained. They don't make movies like this very often. I'm glad they did this time out.