Stardust is the brainchild of Neil Gaiman. His novella of the same name was first brought to illustrated life by Charles Vess. The novella and the graphic novel enjoyed a lot of commercial success before being brought to life again as a high-concept movie with Robert DeNiro, Peter O’Toole, Sir Ian McKellen, and Michelle Pfeiffer in pivotal roles.
Comparisons to another cult favorite, The Princess Bride, are unavoidable, and I’m going to make them as well. Both of these movies sing of fantasy and enchantment, and true love and evil. (Ever notice how those two seem to always go hand-in-hand?)
The HD DVD version is spectacular and really brings the brilliance of the visual aspect of the movie to home entertainment systems. The images look like windows to other worlds that you can just reach into, and it shows how seamless the special effects are. The colors, especially the magical way they’re used in the film, are revealed in stunning array. The lightning ship looks both absolutely amazing and real at the same time. This is the way movies should look.
With the uncompressed sound format available on HD DVD, it’s no surprise that the audio portion of the movie is outstanding as well. If you’ve got even a semi-decent surround sound system at home, you’re going to feel as though you’re back in the theater watching the movie again (if you watched it there the first time). All that’s missing is the scent of popcorn (unless you’ve popped some up), and people talking on their cell phones in the background.
The story is wonderful and gentle and, at times, scary. I have to admit that the screenplay done by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman in some ways outshines the source material. Gaiman maintained an even-handed fairy tale approach to the story, but Vaughn and Goldman gave scenes and dialogue to the characters that really allowed the actors and actresses to play them bigger and more meaningful than the prose version.
I read the novel in a single sitting, which speaks strongly of it, but I had my breath taken away at times by the movie. The story of Dunstan Thorne’s first foray into forbidden territory and his one night of love with a mysterious woman quickly turned into the delivery of a child nine months later on his doorstep. With something like that taking place, you know something important is about to happen.