Thursday, January 03, 2008
Written by Puño Estupendo
Being a comic book reader, I'm always curious about any film adaptation of the medium. Most seem to be mediocre at best but I'm usually compelled to see them nonetheless. Sometimes this curiosity can lead me to a bad place. It's quite a kick to the shins seeing a character that you're really fond of on the printed page be watered down or neutered into something that only vaguely resembles the source material. Granted, this story was also in novel form (which was also written by Gaiman) but all of my preconceptions were based on the comic book version, which is very stylish and pleasantly hearkens back to old school fairy tales and myths. Matthew Vaughn's directorial version of this handles itself pretty well.
Stardust tells a tale that begins with a young man that dares to go through to the other side of a wall that borders his village. An old guard is posted by the one place that has a break in it and he reminds him that it is forbidden to cross into the land that lies on the other side. Through a little moment of humorous trickery, Dunstan Thorn gets past the old guard and discovers a village, very unlike his own, on the other side. Carnival like and quite literally magical, Dunstan sees a beautiful girl and is immediately smitten. This quickly leads to a commencement of that passion and then Dunstan must return to his home, leaving his new love behind. Cut to months later and a newborn baby is presented to Dunstan, his son Tristan.
What follows is a tale of Tristan off on a journey that goes in his father's footsteps for reasons of the heart. As clichéd as it sounds, a fairy tale of wonderful proportions plays itself out. Stardust takes the viewer on a welcomed journey of the fantastic and all under the umbrella of classic storytelling. Evil witches, misplaced love, magic, and even a little bit of a coming of age. It's a tale of escapism and is crafted very solidly from Gaiman's well-devised source material.
Though the look of the film could have benefited from more inspired presentation, Matthew Vaughn still delivers a story well worth watching. Everything could have visually been more fitting were it in more of a Terry Gilliam-type fashion, but it still comes through because of the solid plot line. Totally ignore the Robert DeNiro plugs from all of the press; he's miscast and has one of the most poorly delivered takes on a character that I've seen in quite a while, but the film is still solid despite these weaknesses.
You can even watch this one with the kids without having to roll your eyes too much. It'll keep you more than hooked and you'll be glad you followed through with Tristan's journey.