Director: Matthew Vaughn
"Stardust" is a refreshing change from the glut of tiresomely trite fantasy films that have come out in recent years on the back of the success of the "Lord of the Rings" and Harry Potter movies.
The film starts out conventionally enough with stalwart narrator Ian McKellen explaining that beyond the English village of Wall lies the fantasy world of Stormhold. The only thing separating them is a small wall which is manned 24 hours a day by a guard.
Tristan (Charlie Cox) is a poor young man from Wall who works in the local shop and is hopelessly in love with the haughty Victoria (Sienna Miller). His determined wooing of her is all to no avail until a shooting star happens to fly past them and land on the other side of the wall. Tristan offers to go and take a piece of the star as a token of his love for her.
It turns out that the shooting star is actually a beautiful young woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes). The dying king of Stormhold (an amusingly wry Peter O'Toole) sent the star to earth with a stone that only his true heir can turn into a ruby. The king's viciously ambitious sons have to find the star in order to find the stone, while an equally vicious witch (played by Michelle Pfeiffer) seeks the star for her own nefarious purposes.
Meanwhile, Yvaine and Tristan are trying to make their way back to Wall in a trade-off. Tristan wants to present her to Victoria to prove that he found the fallen star and in return he promises to let Yvaine use his magical Babylon candle to get her back to her home in the night sky.
The story may sound a bit trite it's actually a wonderfully old-fashioned fairy tale with a wicked sense of humor at times. The relationship between Yvaine and Tristan is particularly touching and has a distinctly adult sensibility. Yvaine gives a moving speech at one point about how love is the only thing that makes gazing down on earth bearable.
There are some amusing cameos from Robert De Niro as a camp pirate and Ricky Gervais as a sleazy merchant. But what really makes "Stardust" such a pleasure to watch is its unabashed sense of romance. It doesn't try to overawe the audience with ludicrously extravagant special effects but instead shows that nothing is more magical than true love.
Opens on Oct. 19 in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania