Stars come out in dark fairytale
6:35pm Monday 15th October 2007 in Reviews
American audiences didn't take to Stardust, perhaps because they don't like their fairytales to have a dark edge.
And director Matthew Vaughn, who made his debut behind the camera with Brit gangster movie Layer Cake, ensures it's not all sweetness and light in this screen version of a graphic novel co-authored by Neil Gaiman.
In Charlie Cox, he has a dashing screen newcomer as Tristan Thorne, who yearns to break out of village life through the dry-stone wall encircling the community. This secret love child of a mortal and an enchanted princess is in love with Victoria (Sienna Miller) who, unluckily for him, fancies someone else.
Tristan woos her by promising to catch a falling star as a birthday present.
Instead of looking in Hollywood, where you'll find many a fallen star, he crosses the wall into the magical kingdom of Stormhold where he finds Prince Septimus (Mark Strong) and evil old witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), also star-seeking but to restore their fortunes.
Let magic battle commence, with Tristan aided by the star herself, Yvaine (Claire Danes).
Those they meet along the way include a witch called Ditchwater Sal (Melanie Hill), a pirate with a penchant for wearing women's dresses (Robert De Niro) and Ricky Gervais as someone very irritating.
Full marks to Pfeiffer's splendid cackling witch for putting a spell on him and rendering him speechless.
The effects are impressive, the coven of witches magnificently horrid with Lamia ageing visibly every time she casts a spell, and Cox making a fine leading man.
By the time Take That warble Rule The World over the end credits, you can be sure that everyone's well on the way to living happily ever after.
by STEVE PRATT