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Sometimes it’s just nice to sit back and enjoy a creative visually rich fantasy film, and that’s exactly what Stardust is. In addition to the stunning special effects and entertaining fairytale like story, the film is also equipped with a fabulous all star cast. We’re graced with the talents of Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, and a lesser known but greatly talented actor named Charlie Cox.
I can honestly say that this is one of the most entertaining and memorable fantasy films I’ve seen. Some films that come along remind you of the great magic that can be created onscreen and I don’t think this one has gotten enough credit for doing so over the years.
The story this film sports is very unique and inventive. The main character is an underdog type young man who seeks to win the heart of a young woman in his village and in order to do so he promises to bring her back a fallen star form of the ever beautiful Claire Danes. What he also didn’t account for was a wicked witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) and a power hungry prince (Mark Strong) who are both also after the star for their own selfish reasons.
The story operates in classic fairy tale fashion, throwing in unique fun details along the way. Sometimes films in the fantasy genre can be executed poorly by just phoning it in and relying solely on Disney type tropes, but Stardust doesn’t fall into that trap.
The script protects us from boredom by keeping the pacing right and not packing all the fun into one segment. There’s a constant comfortable stream of excitement, visual treats, and heartwarming romance.
I’d never seen Charlie Cox in anything else before this but I was thoroughly impressed by his lead performance. Cox fits the bill physically, he’s extremely handsome and is able to bring the charm naturally.
On top of him being physically fit for the character, he’s also an uber talented actor. He makes you love him almost automatically, I just wanted to jump into the film and take Danes’s place as his love interest. Speaking of Danes, she’s great as the fallen star… she’s positively radiant. On top of their individual skilled performances, they have stellar romantic chemistry. Chemistry doesn’t really come with a how to guide, it’s pretty much just there or it isn’t, and luckily for this film, the chemistry is strong between Cox and Danes.
Michelle Pfeiffer – an actress I absolutely -adore goes above and beyond here, giving one of the best wicked witch performances I’ve ever seen! She revels in the wickedness of her villainous character and embraces the fun campy nature of it. Every time she came onscreen it was nonstop fun and entertainment, this is one of her best performances for sure.
I can’t not mention Mark Strong’s delicious performance here! Strong is the perfect pick for this evil prince, not only does he look the part but he’s able to play it so well. And he, like Pfeiffer, understands the campy somewhat tongue in cheek nature of the script and plays his role accordingly.
As for Robert De Niro, he’s good here as he is in every film he does, but I will say that he doesn’t make as big of an impression as the other castmates. De Niro’s lesser impression is really just because his character is smaller.
The last thing I have to say about the cast is really just a side note: I completely forgot that Henry Cavill was in this until I re-watched it recently! This was probably one of his very first films as it was in 2007, before he became a star.
He has a very small role but he sure was lucky to be in such a good film as his career was gearing up. On to the visual aspects at play here…. the special effects really are a marvel to witness!
The magical CGI doesn’t look fake or overdone and most of it has a really beautiful look to it. The set design is even more stunning than the effects. I was so struck by the elaborate sets, they are all so detailed and impressive and they add so much to the film’s overall feel.
My favorite set piece by far was the witches lair which is a huge building with chandeliers and grand staircases. The outside of their lair is also really cool because it’s down in a sort of hollowed out piece of land… hard to describe but suffice to say it’s very striking.
And lastly I must praise the films costume design! Everyone’s costumes are very fitting, especially Pfeiffer’s and the other two witches. Pfeiffer’s dresses are just beautiful and they match her so well – bravo to the costume designer!
Stardust is an exceptional fantasy film that goes above and beyond in just about every way. The cast is phenomenal, the script is creative and highly entertaining, and the visuals are stunning! This gets a big thumbs up from me!
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