Promoting movies these days takes genuine skill. Selling films that appear to be blockbusters but in reality are megaton bombs is a key to good promotion.  Stardust is one such fantasy film with ads promising the earth but ending up delivering the backyard instead.  Whilst it boasts a great cast, the nightmarish script pinches bits from much better fantasy films without adding any new ingredients.
Divided by a great wall that splits their land, the village of Wall is a party to strange events.  Tristan (Charlie Cox) promises to catch a falling star to prove his love to his girlfriend.  Venturing into the country’s forbidden half, he discovers the star has turned into the female form of Yvaine (Claire Danes). Yvaine’s arrival causes a cavalcade of otherworldly miscreants, including wicked witch Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), to begin the quest to capture her for their own nefarious ends.  With help from the likes of cross dressing pirate Captain Shakespeare (Robert De Niro), Tristan finds his noble romantic deed has taken on a bizarre epic quest.
Stardust fails as a timeless fantasy by having a confusing narrative over burdened with camp humour.  Mixing elements of Shakespeare’s works and Celtic myths, the script’s unevenness unsuccessfully draws the viewer into its world.  Playing like a poor mans Terry Gilliam fantasy, Stardust never seems to take flight and enjoy the wonder of its’ universe.   The use of contemporary humour drags the film from a fantastical realm into fantastic silliness.  Seemingly having a joke at, and not with the audience, the films messy indulgence hides some potentially intriguing plot angles.
Director Matthew Vaughn handles the swashbuckling action with ease, but neutralises any gains with logic leaps even a fantasy cannot hide. The casting is its’ saving grace.  Michelle Pfeiffer and De Niro camp it up outrageously, almost treating the script with the deserved disdain.  Their amusing scenes liven up the dull story although De Niro in drag may cause some people nightmares.  Charlie Cox as the swashbuckling hero equips himself well, capturing the classic matinee idol role.  The production design provides a pleasing visual feast that distracts from the achingly slow moving screenplay.
Steadfastly remaining unfocused in tone, Stardust’s brew of humour and fantasy conjures up an unpleasant cinematic odyssey for its audience.  Only Pfeiffer’s and De Niro’s fruity performances provide interest in a film that quickly fades away like a burning supernova.
Rating out of 10:  3

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