Simon Dillon reviews the film


Stardust, the seminal novel from fantasy author Neil Gaiman, is, in the author's own words, a "fairy tale for adults". Although certain elements have been watered down to keep this adaptation within the confines of a PG certificate, its still really not a film for children. The primary audience is fantasy obsessives (of which I am one), although those who are merely curious will be rewarded with an enjoyable romance, whilst being reminded of old favourites such as The Princess Bride and Terry Gilliam's lighter films (especially his recent film The Brothers Grimm).

Young shop boy Tristan promises Victoria, the girl he thinks he loves, that he will bring back for her a fallen star from a magical realm that exists beyond a wall near their town. Once inside this parallel world, Tristan discovers this star is in fact a beautiful girl, Yvaine. He insists she accompanies him back to his world to show Victoria, but before long she begins to fall in love with him. However, Yvaine is in great danger. She is in possession of a jewel that Lord Stormhold's three living son's (Primus, Secundus and Septimus) vie for in order to claim his throne (the ghosts of their four dead brothers amusingly comment on the action from the afterlife like a Greek chorus). Even worse, three witches, led by the monumentally nasty Lamia, wish to capture Yvaine so they can cut out her heart and use it to regain their youth.

Performances are a mixed bag. Charlie Cox and Claire Danes are fine as Tristan and Yvaine respectively, but Sienna Miller is not the radiant Victoria I imagined from the book (a young hero might perhaps be prepared to brave the Boxing Day Next sale for her, but recover a fallen star? Nah, she's not worth it). Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett and Mark Strong are all good as Primus, Secundus and Septimus respectively. Michelle Pfeiffer's Lamia is an absolutely superb villain, but Robert De-Niro's camp sky pirate Captain Shakespeare is seriously misjudged. Peter O'Toole and Ricky Gervais have enjoyable but pointless cameos and Ian McKellen narrates the start and ending in appropriate fairy tale fashion.

Screenwriter Jane Goldman make a decent fist of adapting Gaiman's unique brand of romantic wit, and director Matthew Vaughn's foray into the fantasy genre is by and large a successful one. If nothing else, the Isle of Skye locations are used to tremendous, majestic effect (if occasionally enhanced by CGI). Oh, and for the pop music apologists out there (of which I am one) Take That's song on the end credits is really good (a future number one perhaps).

From a spiritual perspective, the pros and cons of the romantic worldview are present and correct. As usual, the moral seems to be "follow your heart" - a flawed idea that goes against Biblical thinking ("The heart is deceitful above all things", Jeremiah 17 verse 9). If I always followed my heart, I'd end up in serious trouble. However, it's equally foolish to disregard one's heart entirely ("Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart", Psalm 37 verse 4). Such theological musings will probably not cross your mind when viewing Stardust, but nevertheless, in spite of some objectionable ideas, the irony of Tristan's quest is as pertinent here as it was in the book. All in all, the lessons he learns are worth heeding. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.