Andy Bockelman: The enchantment of 'Stardust'

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The fantasy adventure "Stardust" may seem familiar in its story at first, but it quickly reveals itself to be as remarkable as the heavenly bodies that adorn the night sky.

Tristan Thorn (Charlie Cox) is a good-hearted boy with his head in the clouds. In love with a spoiled girl named Victoria (Sienna Miller), he is willing to do anything to prove his devotion to her. He gets his chance when the dying king (Peter O'Toole) of the magical land of Stormhold challenges his sons to find a ruby, which he launches from the castle using the last of his energy.

However, the ruby travels so far that it reaches the sky, knocking out a star and causes both to plummet to Earth. Tristan sees the star fall to Earth, and romantically promises to bring it back to Victoria for her birthday. When he finally finds where it has landed, he discovers that instead of the glowing stone that he expected, the star is a person named Yvaine (Claire Danes), who is in great danger.

Not only are the king's brutal sons (Jason Flemyng and Mark Strong) after the ruby, but a murderous witch named Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) wants to cut out Yvaine's heart in order to gain immortality for herself and her sisters (Sarah Alexander and Joanna Scanlan).

Danes is angelic as Yvaine, and has fine compatibility with Cox, who is highly charming. The two of them are a fine pair of heroes, but the amount of villainy is staggering.

Flemyng and Strong are captivating as Primus and Septimus, the oldest and youngest of seven brothers, the rest of which died under suspicious circumstances in which at least one of their treacherous siblings had a hand.

Pfeiffer goes above and beyond the evilness of her character, but still manages to keep the level from becoming too campy. Playing less malicious characters are Ricky Gervais as Ferdy the Fence, a dealer of unusual goods such as two-headed dogs, and Robert De Niro (in his most outlandish performance to date) as air pirate Captain Shakespeare.

Adapted from fantasy/science fiction mainstay Neil Gaiman's book, many of the characters and plot points are altered from the original story, not really becoming a major benefit or drawback either way.

Whether or not those familiar with the book will be outraged by the changes is the least of worries, though. Although the movie has amazing visuals and agreeable contemporary humor, it does itself a disservice by toning down some of the content, making it less intense than it should be.

Yes, it makes it more family-friendly, but it seems that with what they already include, going full tilt would only make the film better.

This is the same problem that is obvious with some of the casting because a force of nature like O'Toole needs more material than he gets in his tiny role. Additionally, with a narrator like Ian McKellen, using voiceovers more often could not possibly be a bad move.

Even though it has its faults, one undeniable strong point of "Stardust" is its originality. Drawing on many different kinds of folklore, it is a delightful, lively update of these stories, and an enchanting piece of entertainment.

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