Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Surprise of Stardust

It's been a while since I have seen a really good movie. I go to the cinema almost every week, sometimes twice a week, but if you ask me "When was the last time you saw a really good movie", I'll have a hard time remembering.

I loved Borat and Hairspray, Transformers was pretty cool... And that's about it. Since Lord of the Rings, I can't recall a movie that really left an impression, or that made me want to see it again.

It's getting worse when talking about sci-fi and fantasy movies. The choices there are slim to begin with, and the performance is lame, most of the time. Eragon and Bridge to Terabithia are just two examples of shallow, unimpressive movies.

That's why I went to see Stardust with very few expectations. The very impressive cast (Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sienna Miller, Charlie Cox etc.) only made me even more suspicious. Such an amount of heavy hitters is usually a recipe for failure (Shh, don't say "Kingdom of Heaven", ok?).

Actually, I didn't hear a thing about this movie until I saw that there's a screening of it in one of our local theaters. Which was also weird - I see a lot of trailers online and in the cinema, and I didn't recall seeing anything about Stardust.

The bottom line is that it's always good to have low expectations. Stardust really caught me by surprise - and I enjoyed it immensely. It's a fun movie, that doesn't take itself very seriously and has a lovely storyline, full of action and humor. The actors are excellent. De Niro gives a hilarious performance (I won't spoil it for you - I'll just say he's not what he seems at first), Pfeiffer plays a wonderful evil witch and Charlie Cox gives the fresh and young touch. I am not much of a fan of Claire Danes, but she wasn't all bad, either.

The plot isn't all that sophisticated: "In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he'll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm". Your basic Quest-For-Love kind of thing. It's not about CGI and special effects, either, but mostly about the humor, the fun and the lightness of it all.

Mostly it reminded me of The Princess Bride, which became a real cult movie over the years. Stardust isn't an epic of the kind of LOTR, but it's a movie I would love to see again - if only for the wittiness and De Niro's performance.