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DVD Review



Starring: Charlie Cox, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Ricky Gervais, Mark Strong, Sienna Miller and Peter O'Toole
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: PG
Available 25 February 2008

Young Tristan Thorne sets out to recover a fallen star in the hope of winning the heart of the prettiest girl in his village. Tristan’s journey takes an unexpected turn when he discovers that the fallen star is actually a beautiful, ethereal young woman named Yvaine. But Tristan is not the only one seeking the star - an evil witch needs Yvaine's heart in her quest for eternal youth, and there's also a number of power-hungry princes, only one of whom can be crowned king if he manages to acquire the necklace that Yvaine is wearing. Tristan has to outwit them all if he is to take the star back home and win the hand of his true love...

Stardust is based on the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, which was subsequently released as a novel.

On the outskirts of an English countryside town, a wall divides our world from that of a magical land known as Stormhold. There is a hole in the wall which is guarded by an old man. Years before one man made it across the wall and met a beautiful woman who seduced him and gave birth to his child. This baby was sent back over the wall to be raised with his father in the human world. The child has since grown into a young man, called Tristan, who makes a promise to his beloved that he'll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm. But once he finds the star he discovers that it's actually a beautiful woman named Yvaine.

Tristan is not the only one searching for Yvaine: Lamia, one of three witches, wants the star's heart in order to make her and her sisters young and powerful again; and the sons of the recently deceased king of Stormhold are chasing her because she possesses a ruby that will allow one of them to ascend to the throne. The race is on to see who can get to Yvaine first, and before Tristan can take her back to the human world.

This movie not only has a great story and impressive production values, but it also has some of the best names in the business popping up in the most absurd roles. It's a testament to director Matthew Vaughn that he takes some incredible actors and casts them in roles that really challenges them.

Michelle Pfeiffer plays Lamia, the evil and ugly witch who is desperate to keep her looks and her powers; Peter O'Toole plays the king; Ian McKellen provides the opening and closing narration; Sienna Miller (Layer Cake) plays Melanie, the girl Tristan is trying to impress; Ricky Gervais (The Office, Extras) plays Ferdy the Fence - but in reality he's just playing the same role he always plays; David Kelly plays the guard; David Walliams (Little Britain) and Adam Buxton (Adam & Joe) play two of the dead princes; Mark Williams (The Fast Show) plays Billy... The list just goes on and on...

And Robert De Niro... If you thought the man was a great actor, then his role here will reaffirm to all why he is one of the most respected thespians on the planet. He plays a character that is about as far removed from his usual roles as is humanly possible - and he looks like he had a blast doing it too.

If there was one issue I had with this movie it was with the music. Ilan Eshkeri's score is incredible, but anyone who is a fan of soundtracks will instantly spot major influences in his work. Far be it from me to claim that he may have paid homage to other composers work (or ripped off, if you like) but there are huge segments that seem to be lifted almost note for note from other movies. These include Howard Shore's score for The Lord of the Rings trilogy; Alan Silvestri's Van Helsing; Danny Elfman's Batman Returns; James Horner's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn; and Klaus Badelt's Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Extras include an audio commentary with writer/director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman; Good Omens: The Making of Stardust (30 min behind the scenes featurette which points out many interesting aspects. It was interesting to see that the princes horse-drawn carriage was actually based on a 4x4 Hummer); Deleted Scenes (5 min 35 sec worth of scenes cut from the final film. These scenes can be played individually, or as a single featurette. Thank goodness the final scene set in the palace was cut - it would have made the ending to the film a little too sickly sweet); Blooper Reel (5 min 25 sec collection of outtakes - some of which didn't look like outtakes and most of which are rather dull); and Theatrical Trailer.

The audio commentary is well worth listening to. Highlight include the fact that Lamia's knife was originally designed for Magneto in X-Men: The Last Stand, but was never used; the director wasn't aware that some of the fire effects had a green hue - because he's colour blind; information on a homage to Taxi Driver that never got shot; Ricky Gervais wanting the sign to his office to simply say "The Office"; the fact that De Niro and Gervais ad libbed about 50% of their scenes - and that De Niro was incredibly quick with his comebacks; Gordon Brown visiting the set without being properly briefed, and thought that the director was American; and the fact that there's a homage to the end scene in Star Wars at the end of this movie.

This is one of those movies that thousands of children will grow up and reminisce about in the same way my generation did with Star Wars, Indiana Jones and the Back to the Future movies.

The end result is a truly magical movie that all the family can, and will, enjoy.


Darren Rea

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