Stardust (HD DVD)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

The adaptation of comic books to movies has become so mainstream in Hollywood that sometimes it’s hard to tell what movie is a normal fantasy movie and what has roots in comic books. As it turns out “Stardust” is just the kind of movie that I’m referring to. I learned, after watching the very informative featurette, that author Neil Gaiman was the man behind the movie and as it turns out I used to be a fan of Gaiman’s comic books “Sandman” in particular. I remember the trailers for the movie late last summer and kind of dismissed the movie as something I’d watch when it came to disc, though the allure of Michelle Pfeiffer on screen was rather tempting. And speaking of Pfeiffer, she’s suddenly back on the screen lately with roles in “Hairspray” and “Stardust”. That’s good to see. Rounding out the cast of “Stardust” is none other than Robert DeNiro, Ian McKellen, Sienna Miller and Peter O’Toole. Ok, with a cast like that can you really go wrong?

“Stardust” has its roots purely in the fantasy world and we realize that from the opening scene. We meet Dunston Thorn (Ben Barnes) as he’s trying to see what lies on the other side of the mysterious wall. Trickin the guard, he makes it into the forbidden field only to find a world of wonder that awaits him. He “meets” Una (Kate Magowan) and nine months later he’s presented with a baby on his doorstep (you connect the dots as to what happened on that night). We then flash forward eighteen years and meet Dunston’s son, Tristan (Charlie Cox) as he’s pursuing what seems to be an impossible dream. He is trying to woo Victoria (Sienna Miller) and promises her that he’ll retrieve a fallen star from the other side of the wall (as a sign of his love for her). He eventually does make it to the other side of the wall only to meet the star (Claire Danes) and the two must avoid being taken prisoner by Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer) and her sisters searching for a way to reclaim their youth. Along the way they meet all sorts of characters, namely the very eccentric Capt. Shakespeare (Robert DeNiro), who may or may not help Tristan with his quest.

About half way through the movie, I found myself really enjoying “Stardust”. It’s not really the kind of movie they make much of anymore and with all the comic books turned movies being of the super hero genre, it was refreshingly nice to see a good old-fashioned fantasy movie. The movie was a very big undertaking with its $65 million dollar budget (it managed to only take in $40 million at the box office), but it will hopefully find new life on the home video market. I feel the story was strong, a timeless story of romance found and lost and never knowing who you might meet. The cast is good as well and there’s even a few more famous faces in some supporting parts (Rupert Everett, anyone)? “Stardust” has a great storyline and isn’t scary enough that it’ll frighten young children. You might say it has a little something for everyone, and it does.

Video: How does it look?

Ok, good and bad news here. First off, “Stardust” has a pretty good-looking 2.35:1 AVC HD transfer that has some scenes looking like you could touch them through the television screen. The bad news is that a lot of the film is very dark in nature and its reflected in the dark and somewhat muddy scenes. A few of the scenes had some pixellation in them and it gave the transfer somewhat of a ghosting effect. Now it’s not as bad as I make it out to be, but after comparing it to some other HD DVD’s I have to say that I wasn’t too impressed. After comparing it to the standard DVD of “Stardust”, though, I have to say that the best this movie will look is on the HD DVD. For all intents and purposes, this movie does look good but when such a high standard has been set by other live action movies, I was a bit let down here.

Audio: How does it sound?

The audio was also a bit surprising as all that’s offered is a Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack. Now I say “all that’s offered” but it is actually a pretty decent-sounding track. Dialogue is very nice and natural with all of the English accents sounding very resonate. The lone Yank in the movie is Robert DeNiro, but when you see how his character behaves, I don’t think he can be pigeon-holed to having an English accent. Surrounds are prevalent during most of the action scenes and there are a few scenes that really do make the movie work from an audio standpoint. Like the video, I don’t think that viewers will be disappointed with the audio but there’s not a whole lot that stands out as being memorable, either.

Supplements: What are the extras?

“Stardust” could have likely had a lot of supplemental material, but we don’t get a lot of that here. I will say that the included featurette is actually pretty good with interviews with Neil Gaiman, Claire Danes and a few other members of the cast. We get a pretty good look at the set, how it was conceived and Gaiman’s inspiration for the story. Also included are some deleted scenes, a gag reel and the theatrical trailer in HD (the featurette is also in HD).

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