Monday, August 13, 2007


So I'm a little confused about Stardust. I've always been under the impression that it was a novel with illustrations, which is not, to my mind, a graphic novel. In my understanding, a graphic novel is a long comic book. The story is moved forward by the illustration work and the text is integrated with the imagery. An illustrated novel has normal text with illustrations that might illuminate, but do not move the story ahead in and of themselves. All the reviews seem to say that Stardust is based on a graphic novel, while the credits of the movie itself said that it was based on a novel. So I'm confused. Am I wrong about the nature of the graphic novel? Am I wrong about the source material? I don't like this confusion; I like categories and boundaries. Thus, I looked at Gaiman's official Web's referred to as an illustrated novel there so an illustrated novel is what I'm going to consider it. My life? Would be easier if I were less neurotic.

I think it should be said that any cast that includes Peter O'Toole as a bloodthirsty, dying king, Michelle Pfeiffer as an evil witch, and Robert De Niro as a scene-stealing pirate, has a pretty good cast. Unfortunately, the movie doesn't quite work, and the cast is a part of the problem. While the supporting characters are entertainingly portrayed, the leads are less engaging.

The influence of The Princess Bride is visible all over the movie. Now granted, a movie could do worse than to model itself on The Princess Bride. But in the end it doesn't work to Stardust's advantage because in every case it comes out on the worse side of the comparison. And the first problem is that Charlie Cox, as the lead, is no Cary Elwes. He functions almost as a cardboard figure around which everything happens. The charm and sense of comedy that make Westley such a great character aren't there in Cox's portrayal of the earnest hero. Claire Danes is a good enough actress, but she too makes a pallid lead. The other issue is that it lacks the cleverness of The Princess Bride. It's not the sort of movie that's going to be quoted a couple days later, much less twenty years.

In theory, that void could be filled with something. A sense of wonder and magic. A bit of unpredictability (I suck at figuring out endings and still had this one figured before the star even fell). Anything like that. Instead what we're left with is a movie that's fun and funny in some moments, but dull in others. As a whole it's entertaining, but only mildly so.

I do really like Cox's coat in that photo though. Rather more dashing then he ever becomes.


Anonymous said...

It's fun, funny and I love it. You are so wrong. SO What if you can figure out the ending?!?!? It still rocks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I was wondering why I didn't like this movie. You've summed it up perfectly.