STARDUST Blu-ray Review

     September 13, 2010

With the upcoming X-Men: First Class, Kick Ass and his memorable directorial debut Layer Cake, it’s no wonder people forget Matthew Vaughn’s sophomore directorial effort, Stardust. It’s just your average $70 million Hollywood adventure fairy tale starring Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro and Claire Danes. Oh, and it has Mark Strong, Ricky Gervais, Sienna Miller, Rupert Everett and Peter O’Toole in it too. Yeah, who would remember a movie like that? And did we mention that it’s based on an award-winning novel by none other than legendary writer Neil Gaiman?

Stardust is an entertaining and imaginative film that’s criminally underrated. Maybe this brand new Blu-ray will change that. Hit the jump for more.

Out of all those famous names mentioned above, incredibly, none of them play the star. The star is Tristan, played by relative unknown Charlie Cox, a young boy raised alone by his father in a town called Wall. The town is named that because of its stone wall marking the entrance to a mysterious, forbidden land called Stormhold. On his 18th birthday, Tristan makes the decision to cross the wall and retrieve a fallen star to prove himself to the woman he loves. That star isn’t exactly a star, though. It’s Yvaine, played by Claire Danes, and Tristan isn’t the only one who wants something from her. There are the princes of Stormhold who want her necklace in order to be King, there’s the witch Lamia, played by Michelle Pfeiffer, who wants Yvaine’s heart in order to be immortal and then there’s an elaborate cast of characters all of whom will make it almost impossible to Tristan to bring Yvaine back to Wall to woo the woman he loves.

The narrative of Stardust is extremely rewarding because there’s always so much going on. Everyone has ulterior motives, we keep discovering new and exotic landscapes and all the while, the characters are developing into people the audience cares about. A perfect example is Robert De Niro’s character Captain Shakespeare, the leader of a ship who fishes the skies for lightning, only to be revealed as something totally different. That kind of twist is what makes Stardust so special. And while its fantastic elements might make it seem like it’s for kids, it does get a bit scary at times, warranting its PG-13 rating. This isn’t Lord of the Rings, but it’s not Sleeping Beauty either. Kids can watch it, just know the film gets dark at times.

The Blu-ray release has a few additional specials features from the original 2007 DVD release. For one, we now have a commentary by co-writers Jane Goldsmith and Matthew Vaughn, who also directed of course. Then there’s Crossing The Wall: The Making of Stardust (the original DVD was called Good Omens: The Making of Stardust, I can’t tell if there’s a difference.) It’s a 5-part, almost hour long documentary featuring sections on the original story, adaptation, casting, shooting and special effects. Overall, it’s nothing that you haven’t seen before, but any fan of the film will find plenty to enjoy here.

The other new feature to the Blu-ray is Nothing is True: Behind the Scenes with Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess. This 10 minute feature is just Gaiman and Vess, the guys who created the original novel, walking around the set of Stardust. They point out the magic of moviemaking, talk to some of the crew, it’s basically what happens when a site like Collider goes on a set visit…except with Neil Gaiman instead of Frosty. It’s pretty cool, I only wish it was longer and was made with a little more style. The whole thing screams home movie.

The rest of the extras are the same as the original release. Five deleted scenes, mostly all extracted humor, and then a blooper reel that features plenty of Ricky Gervais. The one thing of note is the final deleted scene called The Next Ruler of Stormhold. It’s basically an extended ending and is worth watching for sure, though, the real ending of the film gets across the same message in a more poignant way.

Stardust is one of those films that didn’t really hit it off with the American audiences yet deserves to be rewatched over and over again. I loved it when it first came out and after revisiting this Blu-ray, with the transfer and sound one would expect, it made enough of an impression to work its way into the annual rotation.

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