Movie poster: Stardust Stardust

I was­n’t at all sure what to expect from this movie. The trail­ers did­n’t tell me a great deal about the movie beyond that it was a fan­ta­sy movie, but with so many oth­er fan­ta­sy movies being released this year (Bridge to Ter­abithia, The Last Mimzy, Har­ry Pot­ter & the Order of the Phoenix, The Dark is Ris­ing, The Gold­en Com­pass…), this one just did­n’t stand out among the crowd.

After see­ing the movie, I’m not sur­prised. Through­out the movie, I could­n’t help but think of this film as being emp­ty, hol­low — even use­less — when­ev­er I heard the name of the fall­en star, Yvaine.

The cast & crew tried in vain to tell an imag­i­na­tive tale, yet there was noth­ing orig­i­nal­ly imag­i­na­tive about it. Every­thing, it seemed, was lift­ed from oth­er — much bet­ter, I might add — movies.

A fight scene drew upon a duels seen in var­i­ous Star Wars episodes, and the witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeif­fer) at times seemed to chan­nel Star Wars’ evil Darth Sidious.

Lamia & her sis­ters seemed lit­tle more than slight­ly more com­pe­tent updates of the Sander­son Sis­ters (bonus points if you can name their movie).

The ghosts would have fit right in at Hog­warts School of Witch­craft & Wiz­ardry, and even the con­cept of a care­ful­ly guard­ed secret world of mag­ic & intrigue with­in ours seems far too much like the under­ground world of witch­es & wiz­ards found in the Har­ry Pot­ter books.

And even allow­ing that Star­dust was orig­i­nal­ly a novel­la pub­lished in ’98, all of the above “source” mate­ri­als pre­date even that. In oth­er words, if you want good escapist fan­ta­sy with bet­ter love sto­ries, bet­ter fight scenes, fun­nier gags, wit­ti­er dia­logue, and clev­er­er worlds … Look elsewhere.

Actu­al­ly, there were times that I felt that this movie could have been par­layed into a great par­o­dy of the genre, and it’s a shame that it so often seemed so par­o­dis­tic. It’s a shame that was­n’t their intention.

Not to focus entire­ly on the neg­a­tive, the movie did have a cou­ple redeem­ing qual­i­ties. I was­n’t expect­ing Ian McKel­lan’s nar­ra­tion, and it was per­haps the best deliv­ered dia­logue of the whole film. I also enjoyed some of the moments shared between Tris­tan & Yvaine; how­ev­er, what­ev­er enter­tain­ing on-screen chem­istry they could have devel­oped was hin­dered by a love sto­ry so pre­dictable that it fell flat before even real­ly get­ting underway.

The spe­cial effects & set designs were also well done, though they are eas­i­ly over­shad­owed by those por­trayed in any of a vari­ety of oth­er wor­thy fan­ta­sy films, with the Har­ry Pot­ter films per­haps being the clos­est comparison.

This movie is a rental if you’re a glut­ton for fan­ta­sy. Oth­er­wise, steer clear.

Rat­ing: 3 out of 10

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Rick Beckman