Edinburgh International Film Festival

Stardust (2007)

Starring: Michelle Pfeiffer, Robert De Niro, Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Peter O'Toole, Mark Strong, Sir Ian McKellan, Rupert Everett, Sienna Miller, Ricky Gervais, David Walliams, Melanie Hill, Dexter Fletcher, Nathaniel Parker

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

Claire Danes as Yvaine in Stardust

If you're a fan of romance, fantasy and great big, glorious, glamorous fairy tales, then you're gonna love Stardust, the smartest, sassiest and sweetest silver screen myth since The Princess Bride.

And perhaps if The Princess Bride had boasted a budget the size of the moon and featured every star in the glittering British and Hollywood firmament, it would have turned out just like Stardust. In fact, so celeb-studded is this adorable slice of whimsy, it's almost distracting. From Ricky Gervais as a deadpan dealer in dodgy artefacts to Rupert Everett and David Walliams as palely loitering ghosts, Dexter Fletcher as a rough'n'ready pirate and Peter O'Toole as (what else?) the king, there's a famous face wherever you look – and that's before you throw in Hollywood heavyweights Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro – yup, the world and his two-faced dog is just desperate to be part of this delightful fantasy.

Mark Strong and Charlie Cox in Stardust

It's a newcomer, however, Charlie Cox, who plays our hero, Tristan Thorn, a humble shop boy – or rather, a boy who happens to be working in a shop, until something better comes along. Which of course it does, in the radiant form of fallen star Yvaine (Claire Danes). Now, the heart of a star bestows eternal life, so as soon as glowing heroine touches down, she's in danger from three evil witches, headed up by an alternatively beautiful and hideous Michelle Pfeiffer (proving, yet again, that she's so much better as a mature character actress than she ever was as a young ingénue) and the would be king of the magical kingdom of Stronghold, Prince Septimus (a glowering Mark Strong).

Sounds a bit silly? Of course it is, it's a fairy tale. But anyhow, the plot is immaterial, because this film is all about the look, the feel, and the simple, marvellous joy of being transported to another world, just like Tristan, by the magic of cinema.

True, I've seen better CGI, read snappier scripts and definitely witnessed far finer acting, and yet there's just something about his film that really works on every level: visually, intellectually (although don't expect Shakespeare – other than Robert De Niro's joyously scenery-devouring camp airborne pirate, Captain Shakespeare) and most of all, emotionally. Eschewing the darkness of Harry Potter and the scariness of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in favour of fun-filled, frothy fantasy that's straight from the annals of Terry Gilliam, Stardust will appeal to adults and kids alike, and is destined to become a BBC Christmas film favourite. Superbly uplifting and heart-stoppingly magical, Stardust is an adrenaline shot for the imagination: gorgeous, dazzling and truly stellar.

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