STARDUST (2007) (HD DVD)
Writer/director Matthew Vaughn and co-screenwriter Jane Goldman have created a fun fairy tale based on the graphic novel by Neil Gaiman illustrated by Charles Vess. Fans of the novel will notice changes in the adaptation, but if they are acceptable to Gaiman (“those places where they changed things to make it work as a movie, work just fine.”), they shouldn’t cause too much of a fuss.
The story is set 150 years ago and takes place in the English village of Wall and the magical land of Stormhold. A chance meeting and passionate evening between Dunstan, a young Wall lad, and Una, a young Stormhold lass, produces the infant boy Tristan who is left on Dunstan’s doorstep.
Eighteen years later, The King of Stormhold is on his deathbed. He gathers his remaining sons and tells them the new King will be determined by whoever recovers a ruby necklace. When the king takes it off, the necklace flies off into the night sky, dislodging a star, and both plummet to the ground.
That same evening in Wall, Tristan, who has grown into an awkward young man, is attempting to woo the hand of Victoria, who is only interested in the gifts he has to offer. They notice the falling star, and in attempt to prove his love Tristan proclaims that he will retrieve the star for her. When he finds the star, he discovers she is a young woman named Yvaine, who put on the King’s necklace before Tristan arrived, but he doesn’t let that sway his plans to present the star to Victoria. Yet, things don’t go as he planned. Yvaine has no desire to follow him, and as he will soon discover Lamia the witch is in pursuit of the star because a star’s heart grants immortality.
Being a fairy tale, the “happily ever after” ending isn’t surprising, but the journey is engaging and well worth taking. Stardust is filled with action, adventure, and good humor, and the plot takes interesting and believably motivated turns. The only thing that keeps it from being recommended to all families is the slightly risqué nature of the character Captain Shakespeare.
The Special Features include “Good Omens,” an informative, 30-minute feature that examines the making of the film from different departments and the theatrical trailer presented in HD, and available in SD are understandably deleted scenes that are uncorrected and a blooper reel.
The DVD is presented in 1080p High Definition. The production team made great use of color and the UK countryside. The transfer looks very good but not great, in part because of the director’s choice to shoot with a soft focus at times. This accentuates the film’s fairy tale look, but at times causes the lines to lose their clear, sharp distinction. The audio is Dolby Digital Plus 5.1. The loudness of the music and actions scenes can be a little too much in comparison to the quieter moments, but appears to be the current norm for most Hollywood productions.