I think – heck, I’m pretty sure – I have a new favourite movie.

I’ve gone trough favourites a lot lately. As many will tell you, my favourite movie from between 1991 and, I don’t know, 2000 or so, was Aliens. Things got uncertain for a while after that. A Knight’s Tale was in there for a while, then Serenity and recently, Transformers.

Last night, though, I went to the DVD store to find something to tide away a dull-TV Friday Night. I narrowed it down to three films; Surf’s Up, Stardust and Ratatouille (I was in a kids’ film mood and Enchanted isn’t out yet). I was keen on Surf’s Up (Shia leBoeuf and Jeff Bridges jamming on dialogue sounds like the hot-buttered awesome), but I figured I’d leave the final call to Vickie, and after telling me I didn’t have to get a kids’ film (no, she loves them too, she just wanted to be sure I didn’t think I was being brow-beaten into a genre) she asked for Stardust.

Now, I’m not a fan of Neil Gaiman; I’ve read Good Omens, his collaboration with Terry Pratchett, and American Gods, and that’s about it. I don’t mind him; I’m just rarely in any hurry to read his work (no, not even Sandman). Vickie’s even further down on the spectrum: She started reading American Gods under sufferance (we’d joined a very short-lived SF&F readers’ club at the Hornsby branch of Borders Books) and got as far as the chapter where Bilquis is introduced before expressing utter disgust and putting the book aside for ever more.

But after seeing Stardust, I told Vickie that I’d love to own a copy of the movie sometime. I’m even tempted to track the illustrated novel down, and am wondering what else of Gaiman’s is in a similar vein. While I’m a sucker for feel-good movies, Stardust felt like occupied a higher order of magnitude; it didn’t make me feel as though I’d had to, I don’t know, reduce myself to its level in order to love it, because it wasn’t afraid to hide its intelligence either. The acting was top-notch all around, I loved the appearances by all and sundry, Robert de Niro was – well, for crying out loud, if you don’t already know, go and rent the fucking thing. The women were great; Michelle Pfeiffer always does quality villainess and although I’ve kind of liked Claire Danes in other work, damned if she didn’t have me falling in love with her myself (only a little, Vickie love!) in this. Oh, and that Charlie Cox fellow? Yep, no problem with him whatsoever.

You know, I’ve always been willing to forgive sequels a little, mainly because in movies, we’re introduced to a bunch of characters with whom, if everything is working properly, we’ve come to like a lot – and after only an hour and a half, they’re gone. And that’s how I felt at the end of Stardust. I want to know more about the world of Stormhold and its people, but especially Tristan and Yvaine, I want to spend more time in their company. But the second greatest complement I think I can give the film is that it needs no sequel. Their story is told and over, and to try and shoehorn more into another movie would simply dilute the magic (even more so than the obligatory soft-rock tune over the end credits).

The greatest compliment? Simply that there are few things that make me quite as wistful as the thought that hopping through the gap in that high stone wall won’t really take me to Stormhold. Not even Peter Cullen lending his voice to Optimus Prime again could elicit that kind of feeling. Transformers is a guilty pleasure, whereas Stardust… well, that was magic.

5 thoughts on “Stardust

  1. EvilHayama

    Gaiman’s novels waver between disturbing and magical, it sounds like you prefer the second type 🙂
    Others by him like stardust would be Neverwhere and Coraline, although they’re both a bit darker than Stardust. The book of Stardust is different to the movie, so pick that up too if you can.
    Basically stick with his Young Adult stuff if American Gods was too much, it does get worse than that ^^;

  2. IMAGinES

    There are a few book stores up here that stock Sandman collected editions, and if I remember Gaiman’s comments in the Making Of show in the DVD special features, Stormhold is part of the realm of Faerie, which is where Sandman is set.
    Have you read any Sandman, mate? What was your take?

  3. EvilHayama

    I’ve read all of sandman, and some of it is nasty horror, so you probably wouldn’t like those bits. Other bits (later on) have a great mythology to them, but yeah, probably avoid.
    The other one I forgot about is Anansi Boys, a sorta side novel to American Gods, much lighter in tone and without any real nastiness (that I can remember!) The Books of Magic comics are harry potter done earlier, you might like those.

  4. Salidar

    I know I am coming to this late, but I wanted to throw something out there.
    While not a huge fan of Neil Gaiman, I do think he has talent. He has two sides to most of his stories, and I prefer his more fantastic side.
    Neil Gaiman was the screenwriter for the recent animated Beowulf that many lambasted but which I quite enjoyed. He was also the screenwriter for the american version of Mononoke-hime.
    However, in the same vein as Stardust is a movie/story called Mirrormask. I recommend reading the story first then seeing the movie, but that’s just me.
    Did you know Neil Gaiman wrote an episode of Babylon 5? “Day of the Dead”

  5. IMAGinES

    Better late than never, Salidar; I always welcome actual comments on any post. I did indeed know about “Day of the Dead”, and Neil did a damned fine job on that episode. It was one of the better ones of that last season of B5.

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