Stardust (2007) [HD-DVD]

Genre(s): Adventure / Fantasy / Romance
Paramount || PG13 - 127 minutes - $39.99 || December 18, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-01-03


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer(s): Neil Gaiman (novel); Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn (screenplay)
Cast: Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sienna Miller, Peter O'Toole, Rupert Everett, Jason Flemyng, Ricky Gervais


Theatrical Release Date: August 10, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Good Omens: The Making of Stardust
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Blooper Reel
  • Theatrical Trailer


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital Plus 5.1), French (Dolby Digital Plus 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital Plus 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Stardust is a fantasy action-adventure in the same vein as A Princess Bride, and is writer/director Matthew Vaughn’s interesting choice as a follow up to the British gangster movie, Layer Cake. Odd choice, but I like seeing a director try new things, and when it works, all the better!

Stardust based upon a popular novel, which was subsequently released as a graphic novel, by Neil Gaiman. These numerous fantasy-based novels-turned-Hollywood-flicks, at least to me, stem from the popularity of the “Harry Potter” books and their success with “The Chronicles of Narnia” following suit. While Stardust never received the same critical or financial achievement as those others, I felt story wise, it was a better tale... at least better than Narnia.

The story centers on Tristan Thorn (Cox), a village boy who has his sights set on Veronica (Miller), a beautiful young woman also being wooed by another suitor. While out on an evening for dinner and wine, the two see a falling star. Tristan makes a deal with Veronica that if were to bring back the fallen star, she would give her hand in marriage. Problem is, the star has fallen outside of “The Wall”, a barrier that separates the village from the fantasy world that lies outside. The bigger problem Tristan has, though, is the fallen star is in fact a young woman named Yvaine (Danes) and she is the center of who will become ruler of the kingdom with the successors after her as well as a witch (Pfeiffer) who wants to kill her to gain eternal life. Got all that?

Stardust succeeds on a variety of levels. The cast is well rounded with Claire Danes doing a fantastic job as the luminous and innocent star; Charlie Cox as the de facto Prince Charming; Michelle Pfeiffer makes her return to the big screen as the villainess witch, Lamia and Robert De Niro gives a fun cameo appearance as a tough as nails pirate named Captain Shakespeare. Rounding out the cast you have Sienna Miller (Factory Girl), Ricky Gervais (“Extras” and “The Office”), Jason Flemyng (Transporter 2), Rupert Everett as one of the Princes vying for the crown and Peter O’Toole as the King.

The second thing that works is the story itself. It has that classic feel to it while also making fun of the genre it’s in, but not in a wink-wink Shrek kind of way either. It has fantasy, action, adventure and romance, a combination that works every step of the way thanks, I think, in large part to Matthew Vaughn who undertakes a project that could’ve been an utter failure.

Simply, Stardust is a fun movie that ignites some kind of nostalgic feeling, a crossover of old with new Hollywood. It’s not one of the great movies of the year nor is it one that I will necessarily stop and watch if I see it on the grid, but it is cute and a good movie for the entire family. Is it sappy? Yes. Is there anything wrong with that? As long as it’s done right, not at all.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Unfortunately the features fall well short of anything of worth. A commentary from Vaughn would’ve been invaluable as he could’ve expanded further on the casting and his own thoughts of going from an indie drama to this CGI-laden Hollywood spectacle with a few top notch actors with De Niro, Pfeiffer and Peter O’Toole. But I digress...

Good Omens: The Making of Stardust (29:15) – This ‘making-of’ featurette is nice but barely scratches the surface of what it took to make the movie. It’s basically a Cliff’s Notes of sorts with the cast and crew talking about their experience and writer/producer/director Matthew Vaughn saying how cool it was to get the cast he did. It also features behind-the-scenes footage with the actors working against the green screen followed by comments with the special effects crew on the transition from stage to CGI. [HD]

Deleted Scenes (5:31) – Five scenes are included but were excised for obvious reasons. Also contains an alternate ending (though nothing that alters the movie). Presented in letterboxed widescreen and are rough cuts with the minimal amount of CGI work done.

A blooper reel (5:23) and theatrical trailer (presented in HD) round out the disc.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Stardust boasts a 1080p High Definition transfer and everything looks fine, but it’s also nothing great either. Colors seem fine but sometimes muted and when comparing to other HD movies, this just didn’t do it for me. Again, it’s a fine transfer, but I expect better from an HD title. **** / *****

And I can say the same about the Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack. Honestly, like the picture, it was very underwhelming. Normally, I can keep the sound level on my receiver to the same and everything from dialogue to action sequences will come through nicely. Here, on the other hand, I had to crank it up much more and even then the action scenes lacked punch and my SW barely got any use. ***¼ / *****



.::OVERALL::.

As far as this HD-DVD title goes, it doesn’t go far enough to warrant a purchase over its SD counterpart. No exclusive features and what is there isn’t that good. The audio and video were both disappointing even though the picture was fine. That said, if you can get this title at a decent price, go for it. The movie is a fun experience and one that a family (I’d say 8+) can all enjoy.


Note: Images are not from HD-DVD source and do not necessarily represent the true quality of the picture.