Cheat-Seeking Missles

Friday, August 10, 2007

Stardust Is A Must-See

Fallen stars, aging witches, lightening pirates, a girl discovering love and a boy becoming a man ... the makings of a couple hours of magical movie-going.

The movie is Stardust, and if you've seen the trailers, you may have thought it a fantasy film that might be worth seeing. The trailers don't tell it be half -- this is one of the best movies, if not the best movie, I've seen so far this year. Only 300 was in the same league, although they're in very different leagues.

The story is of a country boy's great adventure from boyhood to manhood in a land just over the wall, just over the dimensions, from his home. It's a story of greed and deception, of magic and might, of loyalty and honor.

Near the end of the movie, the object all desire is moving toward oblivion and two good forces and two evil forces (including Michelle Pfeiffer in a delightfully witchy roll) are moving towards her, two to kill, two to save. I think at that moment you would not have found a back against a seat anywhere in the theater; everyone was leaning forward to get just three inches closer to finding out what happens next.

Light will reach your eyes a tiny bit quicker if you're leaning forward, you know.

And when Robert de Niro got into his groove, the laughter just rolled. I think I heard this sound ... best supporting actor ... behind the peels. (Incredible Daughter #3, a ridiculously devoted Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow fan, declares him the best pirate ever, to the amazement of her friends on IMDB's Pirates board.)

Unless, of course, that award goes to the scenery. IMDB says it was filmed in locations in Hertfordshire, just out of London, and that may be true for some scenes near the villages, but the vast landscapes made me think of Patagonia or summertime Alaska, so there was some trickery involved. These backdrops were massive, empty, powerful, and very much a part of the movie, as New Zealand was in the Ring movies.

I am not a movie reviewer and can't pretend to be; everything I've written here has been strained and difficult. It's just this: If you liked The Princess Bride, Pirates of the Caribbean or the Lord of the Rings films, you will love this movie, and will particularly admire the skill of the screenwriters. You'll laugh, be on the edge of your seat, feel like a child again.