Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Stardust (2007)

I guess it's appropriate that a movie about a falling star should seem so earthbound. The best fantasies give us fully realized worlds, and then they dance and skip through these worlds, drunk on their powers of invention, as though their feet were not touching the ground. Matthew Vaughn's Stardust, by comparison, trudges through its grubby shopworn world as though it were wearing lead-lined sneakers. The script, based on a novel by acclaimed fantasist Neil Gaiman (which, I would hope, lost a lot in translation), is sprinkled with whimsy and sly British wit, but it's missing the wonder and playfulness that are necessary to make a narrative of this ilk sail; lacking the requisite lightness of spirit (substituting low-grade snark and a boatload of CGI isn't cutting it), Vaughn's film buckles under the weight of its groaning, overstuffed plot. Casting the vapid Claire Danes didn't do the film any favors either -- though she's better than usual, she still hasn't the personality or talent to generate any chemistry with her enthusiastic-if-bland costar Charlie Cox. The only point in which the enterprise breaks free and soars is when Robert De Niro shows up, clearly having a blast, and shocks the film to life for about ten minutes with his hilarious and charming turn as a transvestite sky pirate. The rest of Stardust huffs and blusters to no avail trying to capture the spirit De Niro is able to capture without seeming to try.

Grade: D+


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