“Stardust” is proof not all bargain bin picks feature bargain list casts. “Stardust” features the likes of Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Robert De Niro, Peter O’Toole, Ricky Gervais and more. It was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also helmed the recent fan-favorite “Kick-Ass” and is currently overseeing the latest “X-Men” flick. But even at only three years old, the flick has been reduced to a foot note in Vaughn’s career, having long since slipped through the box office cracks – and marking it prime bargain bin material.
Based on the novel by Neil Gaiman, the movie finds the intrepid young Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox), who vows, to quote Perry Como, “to catch a falling star and put in his pocket” – all to impress the stuck-up girl of his dreams (played rather convincingly by Sienna Miller). Unfortunately, the star – named Yvaine (and played by Claire Danes) – has other ideas, but her plans to return to the night sky are trumped by the bumbling Tristan. Their relationship begins like all true romances – with bondage – as Tristan quickly ties her up to take her back to show his would-be girlfriend Victoria, but Tristan isn’t the only one after the star. A ruthless prince (Mark Strong) and an equally murderous witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) are both vying for a little star power of their own.
I’m a self-admitted Neil Gaiman groupie, but “Stardust” is among my least favorite of his novels – which makes it all the more interesting “Stardust” is my favorite Gaiman adaptation so far. Before this, Vaughn was known for the Daniel Craig thriller “Layer Cake” as well as producer credits on Guy Ritchie films, and he brings the same grounded mentality to this fairy tale film, which he describes as “Midnight Run meets the Princess Bride.” It’s not the first fairy tale film appealing to an older audience, but succeeds on a far more accessible pace than more recent fantasy fare, thanks in no small part to a crew of lightning-harvesting pirates lead by a gay Robert De Niro. It’s this balance between pace and plot which makes Vaughn’s final product a perfect predecessor for the over-the-top yet well-rounded superhero fare to come.