Hollywood Hues
Cosmic tumble
The world of witches, warlocks and goblins is fetchingly created in Stardust
writes Ervell E. Menezes

Michelle Pfeiffer as a witch in Stardust
Michelle Pfeiffer as a witch in Stardust

We’ve had all kinds of creatures from the outer space martians, moon-beings and even extra-terrestrials (remember ET?) but a star falling to earth seems to be the first so far. And in Stardust this star (Claire Danes) is no ordinary meteorite but comes in the form of a beautiful young woman whose long tumble through the cosmos has left her in peril and her secret powers besieged by an incredible array of seekers. From a love-struck young villager Tristan (Charlie Cox) who needs the star to win his beloved Victoria (Sienna Miller) to a ferociously wicked witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) determined to gain back her eternal youth to a covetous prince and many others, all wanting to in her heart.

That then is the premise of our story and it takes place in a land called Stardust (no, not the film mag) and it is just adjacent to the English village called Wall, so named because no one dares not cross for fear of facing all kinds of ethereal spirits. So the stage is set for witches and warlocks, goblins and flying pirateship captains (Robert DeNiro) and it’s a free-for-all with the special effects (FX) folk running amok in the latter half of this razzle-dazzle entertainer, a sort of updated Star Wars.

Based on a novel by Neil Gaimen this quaint world is fetchingly created by director Matthew Vaughn and imaginatively shot by cinematographer Ben Davis. But its inordinate length (120 minutes) works against it. The variety of characters from the King (Peter O"Toole) and his seven ambitious sons (Rupert Everett and James Flemying among them) helps and there are some cute asides, like De Niro doing his drag/can can act for one but these are few and far between as the allusions to classics. There’s a retake shot from Titanic which could be missed with the blink of an eye and a few other niceties But the excessive razzmatazz and the never-ending narrative clearly bogs down the fare and one is left with a feeling of ennui. Quality is sacrificed at the altar of quantity and this trait is getting quite common in Hollywood these days.

So between all these variables one gets only flashes of brilliance. Michelle Pfeiffer enjoys her witchcraft (an enore after Witches of Eastwick) act and Calire Danes is back to the good girl after a series of villainous roles, Charlie Cox is green at the gills and oldies O’Toole and DeNiro academic, Sienna Miller too fleeting a role and others flitting in and out of the spotlight, but thanks, no thanks, Stardust can scarcely be recommended for all its technical brilliance. See it only if you have nothing better to do.