Summer Movie Flashback: Stardust

tn_stardustrundmcafterlabordayOkay, I know it’s after Labor Day, so it’s weird that I’m continuing with this retrospective on summer movies. But you know what, they also say to never wear white shoes after Labor Day. Did that ever stop Run DMC? Fuck no. So I’m gonna keep going until I get to 2012.

Also, consider global climate change. It’s still go-out-at-night-with-no-coat weather here even though it’s Seattle, so it doesn’t seem like summer’s over to me. Therefore I find myself watching STARDUST.

The nice thing for me about this series is seeing movies that I never had much (if any) interest in, never heard anything that great about, so I watch them with no expectations at all. It’s been kinda funny how easy I’ve been on some of these and then you guys jump in and stab them a thousand times and eat their skin off and pee on ’em (metaphor). Like, I was surprised how much most of you hated VAN HELSING and especially MR. & MRS. SMITH, which I didn’t think was good but didn’t say much bad about. I think that’s ’cause alot of you saw them on the big screen when they were new and there was still hope for them to be classics. And I’m watching them having already written them off years ago.


The hard part is that some of these summers are slim pickings for something appropriate that I haven’t seen already. I almost ended up going with MR. BROOKS for this summer. I kinda want to see it, but it’s not really the kind of movie I’m trying to celebrate here. I looked at the budget for STARDUST ($70 million according to IMDb) and I saw that it had lots of effects and movie stars and everything. It absolutely could’ve been a big summer movie if anybody went and saw it in a theater on purpose. That just wasn’t in STARDUST’s horoscope that day.

But I gotta admit it’s kinda good. It’s a fantasy movie about a magical kingdom and witches and ghosts and shit – not in the dry LORD OF THE RINGS vein, more like fairy tales. More like Terry Gilliam Lite. It’s directed by Matthew Vaughn before he did KICK ASS, and it turns out he’s better at being cute and whimsical than edgy and in-your-face.

Based on a book by comic-book-guy/BEOWULF co-writer Neil Gaiman, it’s about a wimpy young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) who, to win the heart of the girl who ignores him (GI JOE’s Sienna Miller, the credits tell me), travels to a forbidden magical realm to retrieve her a fallen star. He finds the star in a crater but it turns out it’s alive, and it’s Claire Danes. Its name is Yvaine. (I used the subtitles.) I’m not clear if they’re saying that stars take on human form when they fall, or if this star was already Claire Danes floating up there in the sky. The second one especially would fly in the face of what I know about astronomy.

Come to think of it, falling stars aren’t even stars anyway, they’re meteorites. So how the fuck was she a star in the sky and then he saw a falling star and it was her. What the fuck is this bullshit. This fantasy world is a lie. Speak truth to power.

mp_stardustAnyway, there are alot of complications. 1, she was knocked out of the sky by a necklace, which she now has, which one of the 7 princes will need to become the new king when their dad dies. And also they gotta kill each other, so they’re kinda evil, and Mark Strong is trying to get the necklace. 2, it turns out if you cut out the heart of a star and eat it you get the ol’ eternal life, so an old hag witch (Michelle Pfeiffer, SCARFACE) is trying to catch her to munch on. But Tristan enslaves the star with a magic chain to take her to that pretty girl back home, and she goes along because also he says he has this magic candle… well, it’s a long story.

Point is, they’re chained together travelling, so it’s kinda like that movie THE DEFIANT ONES, or FLED. Only they fall in love, so it’s more like THE CHASE with Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson. Or PATTY HEARST? Maybe not. But maybe THE SURE THING. It’s a romance.

There’s alot of imaginative ideas about how this world works, and alot of funny concepts. The witch needs two goats to pull her cart, so she finds a guy with a goat and turns him into a goat and takes both of them. Later she needs two people to pretend to be her daughter and her husband, so she turns the goats into people – but the fake husband who was a goat and was never a person doesn’t know how to act like a human so he makes weird faces and jumps on top of tables and turns doorknobs with his mouth. But nobody says anything. In a climactic duel the witch uses a clay doll to voodoo a guy, and after that works she cleverly uses the doll to move his corpse around and make it sword fight Tristan.

There’s a gimmick where as each of the princes die they join their brothers in a growing entourage of ghosts watching the proceedings. They’re glowing cartoony guys that look like they’re about to try to hitch a ride on your doom buggy. I like how they’ll be human characters in the movie desperately trying to become king, then all the sudden they die, so they re-materialize as ghosts for the first time, they realize they’re dead and look disappointed, but immediately accept defeat and watch to see what their surviving brothers will do. They’re pretty good sports about it, is my point. You’d think they’d get all pissy.

The story also sort of  gently questions the values of these sort of romantic tales when (SPOILER) he pretty much succeeds in his quest to bring the girl a star and then realizes that if she’s impressed by that she must be a fuckin idiot. Then he falls for somebody he actually knows instead of just stares at. It’s an obvious but sweet message.

There’s a pretty big cast of familiar faces. Or maybe not that familiar because for example I didn’t notice Rupert Everett as one of the prince/ghosts, or Henry Superman Cavill as the douchey fiancee of the girl Tristan is trying to steal. But also there’s Peter O’Toole as the dying king, and Jason Flemyng as one of the princes, and Robert DeNiro as a (SPOILER – closeted) pirate leader on a flying ship who teaches Tristan to swordfight and also gives him a makeover. Ricky Gervais has a pretty funny scene as an asshole that DeNiro tries to sell lightning bolts to. The movie recognizes that he’s annoying so he quickly gets cursed to only talk in animal noises.

Oh, that’s weird, I just noticed that Gervais got his name on the poster. It’s pretty much a cameo.

My favorite performance in the movie is Pfeiffer as the lead villain. Although the movie heavily features a surprising amount of DDE (dodgy digital effects), the actual makeup effects are extremely well done, and Pfeiffer is constantly evolving/devolving from hot middle-age Pfeiffer to hideous hag, because any use of magic causes her to lose her fake beauty. She probly hadn’t played such a colorful character since BATMAN RETURNS, so she gets really into it. She also has a great moment where she breaks down and cries about the pointlessness of this whole fight just to look young. Okay, so she doesn’t mean it, but she makes it seem like she does. It made me miss Michelle Pfeiffer, when she used to sometimes be in the type of movies I would watch.

One small criticism: while it’s not an ugly movie by any means it’s easy to imagine Tim Burton, Gore Verbninski or alot of other dudes making it look gorgeous, which seems like a fair expectation for a fantasy movie. I guess Vaughn’s movies always look a little dull, and with a low standard for digital effects (although not anywhere near Stephen Sommers levels). Despite this, I think the overall enjoyableness of STARDUST raises my opinion of him a little. It’s definitely too cutesy for some of you fellas, but in my opinion it’s a good version of this sort of shit. Not bad.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 at 2:09 am and is filed under Fantasy/Swords, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

91 Responses to “Summer Movie Flashback: Stardust”

  1. I think it’s a lot better than “not bad”, Vern. In fact, I would say that it’s the greatest movie of it’s kind since THE PRINCESS BRIDE. It’s too bad that it didn’t get too much notice in the US, because it was huge around these parts. And Gervais is on the poster because he’s a huge star all around the world.

  2. “He’s a huge star all around the world”

    Not in Germany!

  3. No, of course, you have your own versions of everything English. So how would you rate STROMBERG against THE OFFICE?

  4. I just think it’s funny when somebody that’s barely in a movie gets their name on the poster. It’s not like his scene is Alec Baldwin in GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. It’s more like a celebrity walk-on in a Muppet movie.

  5. pegsman: Honestly I don’t like both. Or the American version of The Office.

    But yeah, putting cameos on a poster is actually more common in DTV land, if you think about it. So many people with blink-or-you-miss-it cameos receive top billing there.

  6. One Guy From Andromeda

    September 4th, 2013 at 3:07 am

    German popular culture is so provincial, even though they had to admit that Stromberg was ripped off of the Office the “creator” is still celebrated as one of the sharpest creative minds in the industry – because he created Stromberg!

  7. One Guy From Andromeda

    September 4th, 2013 at 3:08 am

    Back on topic i might have to check this out after all, since apparently it was made by this Neil Gaiman. I have seen Coraline and that one Doctor Who episode he wrote and am beginning to suspect he might be pretty good.

  8. One Guy From Andromeda

    September 4th, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Back on topic i might have to check this out after all, even though fantasy isn’t really my thing, since apparently it was made by this Neil Gaiman. I have seen Coraline and that one Doctor Who episode he wrote and am beginning to suspect he might be pretty good.

  9. One Guy, You really should check out Gaiman. Especially the SANDMAN comic series.

    In 2007 Ricky Gervais was a bigger star than any of the other actors in this movie, so I guess that explains the name on the poster.

  10. But you have to give STROMBERG one thing: Christoph-Maria Herbst is a much funnier and versatile actor than Gervais!

    Just last month I started reading SANDMAN (mostly because the first issue was available for free on Comixology) and I definitely will keep reading.

  11. One Guy From Andromeda

    September 4th, 2013 at 3:37 am

    German ripoff Gervais funnier than Gervais? No accounting for taste, especially in Germany ; )
    But lets not sink to discussing which actor we personally thinks is more versatile, it would be neverending… agree to disagree.

  12. Sorry, I just think that Gervais is pretty one note (both as comedian and actor) while Herbst is constantly surprising me in all his different roles. (But like I said, I’m not a fan of any version of THE OFFICE)

  13. No, let’s make a huge deal of this…

  14. Good review, except it leaves out the fact that Mouth is the person who saw STARDUST in the theatre. I liked it. Except De Niro; he was obnoxious. Did he sing & dance? I forget these things. Yesterday I wore a white belt; I’m as edgy as Run DMC. (Don’t tell Serial Mom.)

  15. I went out of my way to watch this one on the big screen (being a big fan of Gaiman and The Princess Bride). I think the man-of-the-match award should go to Danes for this one. She just oozes natural chemistry, no matter who her leading man is. Check out how awesome she is with Billy Crudup in Stage Beauty (by far his best performance).

    I’m glad you watched this and that it kinda raised your opinion of Vaughn, Vern. I think the guy’s pretty good. He’s certainly never disappointed me. To be honest, I never really understood your hate for Kick-Ass. I will admit, though, that all his movies suffer from DDE. Kinda weird.

  16. Mr Vern, i think you will really like MR BROOKS. For a long time i was hesitant to watch it due to mixed reactions, but i ended up really loving the movie. All actors are good, Demi Moore in the movie is the ultimate MILF, but the real joy is watching the banter between Kevin Costner and William Hurt. Those two together are great and they make the movie. And for once Hurt really looks like he’s enjoying the movie he’s in, with a very lively performence. I’d love to watch more movies with both Costner and Hurt, they have a great screen chemistry together, it’s easy to tell they are good friends in real life too.
    Also, Costner is really good at playing a psychopath.

  17. It’s funny, I forget this was actually a flop, because this was actually pretty big in the UK, and felt even bigger because the theme song from Take That was never off the radio that summer, and has rarely been off the radio since, somehow. Can’t comment on the movie as I haven’t seen it, and don’t really want to as it’s not my sort of thing. But I did see and like MR BROOKS very much

  18. I have to admit, I didn’t really like this one. Part of it was because of the book — I am not trying to say that this wasn’t as good because they changed stuff from the book (like, the ACT of changing things from the book is in and of itself a bad thing), but a lot of the key elements in the book were just straight-up better.

    The ending of the book, for instance, is this weird sort of anti-climactic, bittersweet ending, where Michelle Pfeiffer’s character just misses her last shot at the star and then I think Mark Strong just sets her on fire by mistake, and that’s it. The evil witch is just a side-plot in the main story, which is about Tristan trying to impress this girl, which also ends with him just kind of realizing, “Oh, this was dumb, what was I thinking?”

    And then in the movie it turns into this big, flashy battle with a witch and also voodoo, and that’s fine, there’s nothing principally wrong with that, except 1) it’s not anything we haven’t already seen in a million movies, and 2) a lot of it doesn’t make any sense (see, for example, Yvaine’s power to suddenly explode and destroy the witch. What? Why does she have that power?). I would have liked to have seen the movie hew a little more closely to the book, just because the elements of the book would have made such a unique and interesting movie, it’s kind of a shame we don’t get to see it.

  19. haha, braak, I’m sure you didn’t mean it this way, but your argument kind of sounds like “the book was better because it’s anticlimactic and boring.”

  20. Yeah, I think Vern will like MR. BROOKS, too. I put it right up there with MINDHUNTERS in terms of straight-faced absurdity (Demi Moore as a millionaire supermodel FBI agent, a town full of serial killers who all seem to know each other, DEXTER-esque phony psychology treated like the gospel), but it also has a killer ending and a couple of excellent performances from Kevin Costner and William Hurt. The film is the first to recognize that Costner’s essential aloofness can be kind of creepy, and it lets Hurt, previously one of the blandest actors in the business, chew the scenery in magnificent fashion. Between MR. BROOKS and HISTORY OF VIOLENCE he turned from the guy I kept confusing with John Heard into a real scene-stealer. It might not fit the theme of Summer Movie Flashback but you should check it out anyway, Vern.

  21. @Dan Prestwich: When will movie studios finally stand up and give us the BORING, ANTICLIMACTIC MELODRAMA WE DESERVE?!!?!?!?

  22. I want a $200 million adaptation of the first half of THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA

  23. I agree with Pegsman, best movie of this kind since Princess Bride. Not quite as quotable, etc. But still funny and charming. Though I guess I had no expectations when I watched it either. And the DeNiro character does kind of annoy me with heavy-handed stereotypes that made him rather ridiculous, but I can accept it, because it’s still kind of heart warming. I really like both Claire Danes and Michelle Pfeiffer, so perhaps I was more predisposed to like it? At the end of the day it was entertaining and even had a nice enough message for me to overlook its flaws. It’s really charming, and I’ve made several of my friends watch it.

  24. @ CJ Holden: When you mentioned Christoph Maria Herbst all I could think of was this homophobic Deutsche Start Trek parody, which I regret knowing about: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/(T)Raumschiff_Surprise_-_Periode_1.

  25. Yes, but we’re also aware that PRINCESS BRIDE is a stupid little girls movie made by Rob Reiner, right? And that we’re all adults who can have higher standards, even when it comes to childrens entertainment?

  26. Oh yes, that one. You would be surprised how much the German gay community loves this movie and the people who made it!

    But yeah, Christoph Maria Herbst is in it, although to be honest, these days he is in almost every German movie, that is at least 25% a comedy.

  27. (Of course I was talking to Republican Cloth Coat)

  28. I’d like to think that the German gay community also loves PRINCESS BRIDE

  29. I wouldn’t count on it, considering that THE PRINCESS BRIDE isn’t nearly as well known and beloved as it is in the US. It’s kinda like THE GOONIES. A movies that runs on TV every once in a while and that most people might have seen or heard of at one point, but that never inspired a large or even small cult following or something.

  30. Germans don’t give a shit about PRINCESS BRIDE or GOONIES? Sounds like a utopia.

  31. Stop trying ice skate uphill, Dan. THE PRINCESS BRIDE is awesome and you know it.

  32. Rob Reiner, Mr M. ROB REINER. And Billy fucking Crystal riffing for 5 minutes.

  33. Dan, do you also hate puppies?

  34. Yes, and rainbows and mom’s apple pie

  35. If it’s Michelle Pfeiffer you like, you really can’t go wrong with What Lies Beneath.

  36. Sorry I can’t recommend MR. BROOKS. Its half good, half shit. The Demi Moore bullshit is something straight out of a DTV actioneer, while the Costner stuff is truely worth seeing. You could’ve cut the Moore shit out and MB would’ve been fucking awesome. Imagine shoehorning a DTV actioneer randomly into the middle of HENRY.

  37. Rob Reiner also directed SPINAL TAP, THE SURE THING, and STAND BY FUCKING ME. What’s your point?

  38. Unlike Dan The Man Prestwich, Rob Reiner would never beat up a kitten, steal a blind person’s white cane out of their hand, or shake down a third-grader for their milk money. It’s not about failure to be ruthless or an inability to bitchslap the face of traditional values.

    It’s about Reiner being a no-balls, dickless wonder of a filmmaker. He makes Opie look like Sam Peckinpah.

  39. Seems like serial killer plot fatigue should have set in a looooooooooong time ago, what with all the books, tv shows, & movies that populate their casts with “quirky” “unique” murderers that end up exuding a disturbing sameness in the killermoviescape, and I was resistant to MR. BROOKS at the time, but it turned out to be pretty damn good. But Vern shouldn’t read these comments b/c it’s best to go into the movie with zero expectations or knowledge. And I’ll reserve talkbacking until the official review.

    Rob Reiner helped empower women to [fake-]orgasm in public, thereby heroically lowering the prude quotient of the world; I’m for it.

  40. I saw this one in the theater & really enjoyed it. Michelle Pfeiffer is the best part. I don’t remember the effects being bad, but I do remember Tristan wearing a terrible wig. He goes from either short hair to long, or vice versa, in his transformation to hero & one of them is a wig, but I don’t remember which. I just know it was ugly & I didn’t understand why they couldn’t afford a better one, or just let him have the same hair & maybe style it differently.

    I saw the movie first & then read the book & didn’t especially like it because of the anticlimactic, boring & a little sad ending. Usually if I go that direction (movie first & then the book), I can enjoy them both & appreciate their differences. Going from book to movie is harder.

  41. Although, that said about not liking the book as much, I did read his book NEVERWHERE and really liked it.

  42. I saw Stardust in the theater. My fiance and I were the only people in there but anyway. I really liked it. My Mom must have too because she “borrowed” my dvd copy and never gave it back. I completely forgot that Ricky Gervais was even in the movie. I agree with Vern, more like a cameo in a Muppet movie.

  43. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 4th, 2013 at 11:48 am

    I also think this is the best fairytale/fantasy film in fucking forever and Matthew Vaughn deserves a lot more credit than being compared to Stephen Sommers. Except for Layer Cake (which was just okay) I’ve loved every single one of his films. Wishing Tim Burton directed Stardust seems silly to me, that guy lost his spark ages go, there’s no energy to his films anymore. They don’t look very good anymore either, or do you really prefer the look of Alice In Wonderland to Stardust?

    Finally, goddamn this film has got a great, epic score. Which is, by the way, another thing you can always trust on with Vaughn’s movies. Finally a guy that doesn’t go for unobtrusive and dull background sounds but proper themes, melodies etc. I wish the movie score would come back in fashion, I miss them!

  44. what the fuck’s supposed to be wrong with pre-NORTH Rob Reiner?

    anyway I haven’t seen this one, so the only thing I can contribute are my thoughts on the year 2007, but don’t worry, it wont be as long winded as my thoughts on 2006

    basically 2007 was just a continuation of 2006 for me, another fantastic year, in other words

    the internet was still fresh and exciting and I discovered a ton of interesting websites that year, including AICN which is what introduced me….to Vern! it was a very exciting year for video games as well, the 7th generation was brand new and had yet to be saddled with the bad trends that would later weigh down video games in general and make gamers like me feel just kind of tired of the whole thing half the time

    in many ways it was even better than 2006 as a matter of fact, but one downside though was 2007 was the beginning of the end for the anime boom in America when the company Geneon went out of business

    by the way, I find it hard to believe that 2007 was now 6 years ago, I mean it feels like a while back no doubt, but 6 years? there’s things from that year that I remember like it was just yesterday, it’s weird

  45. This was a fun one, though maybe a little muddled and bloated in some parts. I don’t really know that we needed to have Iain McKellan narrating things for one. Great ensemble though. And since we’re recommending movies, I’d like to suggest Mark Strong and James McAvoy’s action thriller movie from this year WELCOME TO THE PUNCH, which has some superbly crisp action and badass cinema qualities.

  46. 2007 was the year I started killing people.

  47. I have been told by a bunch of people that this movie is actually pretty good, but boy, did the advertising for this thing just make it look unwatchable. That poster is almost original WONDERBOYS-level actively obnoxious. DeNiro looks to be in full-on mugging mode, and aside from him it just looks chinzy and like a Asylum Studios LotR ripoff.

    But, have a lot of love for Neil Gaiman, and have generally enjoyed Vaughn’s films as well (I don’t blame him for KICK-ASS, since it’s a perfectly well made movie which happens to be an adaptation of a source no one could possibly like). So maybe it’s time to check this one out. Dan, wanna pick up some sparking rose, do our nails and watch a double feature of STARDUST and PRINCESS BRIDE?

  48. “what the fuck’s supposed to be wrong with pre-NORTH Rob Reiner?”

    Don’t worry about them, Griff. They’re just some tough guys. They only like really manly movies, like the kind that are cartoons about robots who fall in love, not girly movies where two grown men train for months to ambidextrously perform one of the greatest sword fights ever captured on film in long, uninterrupted takes. Tough guys aren’t interested in that sort of thing.

  49. “2007 was the year I started killing people.”

    oh dear

  50. Wait, I like movies about cartoon robots falling in love?

  51. I actually have seen STARDUST before, too, and it was fine and actually way better than I thought. But it is in no way a movie that ever needs to be seen more than once.

  52. I’m going to throw another log onto the big ol’ bonfire of praise for this movie. It really is a wonderful homage to fairy tales and myths. Like The Princess Bride, there’s a kind of lightness to the entire proceedings, but the filmmakers manage to smuggle in some emotional gravitas anyway. And the villains are both menacing and endearing. After seeing this movie I was really looking forward to what Matthew Vaughn was going to do next, and then he decided to direct Kick Ass.

    It’s strange that Neil Gaiman’s most famous book is American Gods. Hearing a lot about this Gaiman character, I decided to pick up a copy while I was on vacation a number of years ago. But the entire thing was a big disappointment. The world didn’t seem particularly well thought out and the characters were pretty flat. Except for a short section in the middle of the book, the entire novel was a slog. But then got around to reading The Graveyard Book, and even though it’s for kids, it really blew me away. It seems like he works better on a smaller scale.

  53. That’s the first line from his upcoming autobiography, WORD OF MOUTH.

  54. Gaul, I didn’t say I wished Burton directed it, I just said that he and many other directors know how to make a beautiful image, and Vaughn is not on that team. Yes, I absolutely do think ALICE IN WONDERLAND (probly Burton’s worst film) is, visually only, better than STARDUST. No question. Except for Johnny Depp’s outfit.

    Now if you had said PLANET OF THE APES I might have to think about it longer.

    And although I agree that Burton has lost it I should mention that it was also cool to see Michelle Pfeiffer in DARK SHADOWS, which I enjoyed. But she doesn’t get to do as much as in STARDUST.

  55. Dan: I kind of assumed you loved Pixar movies like everyone else on this sight.

  56. Have you ever wondered why Science Fiction movies are allowed to look ugly (dystopian populated garbage dumps, filmed with handheld cameras), but fantasy movies always need a certain visual brillance?

  57. I don’t know, GAME OF THRONES mostly just looks like some ugly gray woods out back of an abandoned zipper factory in Bulgaria.

  58. I’d like to see Neveldine/Taylor do a fantasy movie. That cold steel digital look bouncing all over the place from all the GoPro’s rigged to dragons and swords and shit. Cinematic gold, I say.

  59. The Undefeated Gaul

    September 4th, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    Alice In Wonderland seemed to me like a bunch of lifeless CGI that was boring to look at. I saw it once when it came out and not a single shot stayed with me. Then again, maybe even the cool shots didn’t have a chance with me because I’d already checked out mentally. To continue this argument honestly I would have to watch it again, but I really don’t want to.

    Let’s just say I really enjoy Vaughn’s stuff, visually impressive or not!

  60. How long do you think it will be until filmmakers are nostalgic for the shitty digital effects of their youth and start putting it in their films on purpose? Can’t be long now.

  61. I think Vaughn did some nice compositions and lighting in Layer Cake and then I would have to agree with almost everyone on every other movie he has directed about his visual aesthetic.

    I read some shit about Jeff Wadlow and Kick Ass 2 but it looked precisely like Kick Ass 1 to me. No better, but definitely no worse.

    Also, Crustacean, thank you for that point. It perfectly encapsulates the grindhouse movement and a lot of everything else that is wrong with films made for the fan boys(girls).

    Everyone seems to be trying so hard to do something different or conversely cash in on the nostalgia of the past, that most people forget what a simple, clearly defined movie with real emotional stakes can do. I’m looking at you, Die Hard. The one film, Vern and I can both agree completely on – although maybe for different reasons.

    Stardust was a film that meant absolutely nothing to me. Not good enough to like, not bad enough to become incensed over. It just was. But I don’t know how films like that sustain a career. Especially one where he gets a second shot at X-Men after abandoning them way too late the first shot he got. Yet here we all are still talking (actually writing) about it.

  62. I really, really love this movie. And while it would have been nice if the film was visually lush, there’s something nice about a fantasy film whose strengths are rooted in the dialogue and human story-line, as opposed to just punching you in the face with pretty visuals with nothing underneath.

    If the movie has a main weakness, it’s one that it shares with most of Gaiman’s prose work: While the world and supporting characters are incredibly layered and wonderful, his main characters are always, always, ALWAYS, completely flat and lack any agency. They move from place to place on the whims of other characters until the concluding chapters/minutes. This structure (mostly) works in the books, when the depth of the world and the quality of Gaiman’s language overcomes this structure. But, MAN, does it drain from the movies.

  63. I remember Mr brooks being pretty dope.

  64. I’ve seen STARDUST maybe four or five times and I do not get what you guys are talking about. It’s filmed in England, Iceland and Scotland – in some great loooking places. What do you want? Pink trees and a yellow brick road?

  65. “Germans don’t give a shit about PRINCESS BRIDE or GOONIES? Sounds like a utopia.”

    The goddamn Goonies, man. I’m 30, which seems to put me right in the middle of a generational cluster that grew up loving the hell out of that movie and i can’t stand it. I have never been able to stand it. Even when I 5 a two-hour block of other children screaming in my face over VHS was not my idea of a good time. I’ve become super-reactionary about it, I think in part due to northwest Oregon being the epicenter of Goonies Cultdom, seeing souvenirs from some anniversary event my best friend’s wife just had to attend (because hey, Astoria’s just down the road) framed on their wall.

    Stardust is a book I liked when I was 19 and reading it to my Princess Bride-loving then-girlfriend. But at some point…

    “If the movie has a main weakness, it’s one that it shares with most of Gaiman’s prose work: While the world and supporting characters are incredibly layered and wonderful, his main characters are always, always, ALWAYS, completely flat and lack any agency. They move from place to place on the whims of other characters until the concluding chapters/minutes. This structure (mostly) works in the books, when the depth of the world and the quality of Gaiman’s language overcomes this structure. But, MAN, does it drain from the movies.”

    Imagine not liking his language. I don’t. I did when I younger, but one day I picked up Anansi Boys and couldn’t clear three pages. It’s like dad’s droning you a bedtime story but every third sentence is a polite insistence on how clever he is, just listen to that turn of phrase, wasn’t it an island of mellifluous calm in a sea of “the dude shrugged and then the ladybear did this thing that’s a little unusual I guess and the dude’s eyes bugged out woah what a bogus journey this is turning into”.


    I guess what I’m getting at is: this thing came to theaters and it would have taken a woman to make me go see it. Maybe I should in tribute to my younger self who liked the goddamn book. Sandman you are still pretty good. Beowulf: you could have used more 3D dick flying out my cinema screen but you’re a fair motion picture nonetheless. Neil, would you consider working with Avary on your next novel? I’m starting to think you just need collaborators, is all. You have pretty good ideas–and any theft of such suggest you have excellent taste–but your execution falls flat for me, probably the most important reader in the universe. I’m sorry for ribbing you in this and the previous paragraph but you’re really rich + respected so I bet you can take it no problem.

  66. I guess Alice in Wonderland is a “better” looking film, but I find Stardust more pleasant to look at. Open and comprehensible composition, scenic exteriors, a nice mix of natural and enhanced light.

    I think I’ve grown tired of that over-designed/ gothic studio lighting combo.

  67. I have fond memories of this one and the ubiquitous Princess Bride comparisons are apt.

    This movie made me notice that Claire Danes constantly shakes her head when she acts. Seriously, watch the movie and count how many times she shakes her head. It makes Kristen Stewart’s habit of snorting after delivering a line of dialog seem positively subtle by comparison. Inexcusable!

  68. it makes me sad that THE GOONIES gets shit on so much around here

    I mean come on guys, it’s one of the best kid’s adventure movies ever made, bar none, that movie was fucking heaven to 6 year old me, I mean it’s about kids that find an entire fucking PIRATE SHIP in a cave underneath the town where they live, it doesn’t get any fucking cooler than that

    it was especially cool to me because though I don’t live in Oregon I do live in coastal Georgia, a place where once there were indeed pirates sailing off the coast

  69. 80’s adventure flicks in general are cinematic catnip to me, I love that shit, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, THE LAST DRAGON, FLIGHT OF THE NAVIGATOR, EXPLORERS, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, THE NEVER ENDING STORY, heck there’s even things I unironically enjoy about GYMKATA, because as silly and ridiculous as it is, it still contains some decently exciting moments and even THE GOLDEN CHILD has it’s moments (though that’s probably the worst example I’ve seen)

    I wish they still made adventure movies, it’s all superheroes and shit these days, where are the stories of normal human being going on incredible adventures? SUPER 8’s heart was in the right place but then they had to screw things up by adding an ugly modern CGI monster alien in it at the end, blech

  70. I agree, Griff. THE GOONIES was my favorite movie for several years as kid. Plus, it caused a crush on Josh Brolin that I still have to this day & am not ashamed to admit. Man, I’m glad he developed into a good actor. Let’s not mention my Corey Haim phase after seeing THE LOST BOYS.

  71. I’ve heard that GOONIES is a really offensive movie, like racist and stuff. I may have even passed off this view as my own in conversations in order to appear controversial and play devil’s advocate and stuff, and been roundly dismissed because of it. Does anybody have an opinion of that? Is it reactionary or is there something there? (I’ve never seen the film).

    I’ve also heard it bandied about from people other than Dan the Man that Princess Bride is overrated and mediocre, that Stardust is like how people REMEMBER the Bride through their rose-tinged glasses, but is actually genuinely good. It’s a film I know perhaps too intimately to form a fresh opinion on, but I’d love to hear someone from coming at it from an outside perspective tear it to shreds, much like Vern vs the Ninja Turtles.

    For me the film is one legendary set piece after another … now that I think about it however, the swordfight and “battle of wits” might be the kind, but I’d be willing to bet the scene where Andre gives him a piggy back ride and therefore loses their duel doesn’t hold up as well.

    One thing I do remember is that when I watched the film as an adult after some lapse of time, I realized that Princess Buttercup was quite the wayward skank. It’s easy to center on the “slimiest weakling ever to crawl the earth!” stuff in your memory but for the most part she’s extraordinarily passive and willing to basically give up all too quickly.

    Fuck man, I’d love to read about the film through Vern’s perspective and argue about it with the Outlaw crew.

  72. Data (Short Round from TEMPLE OF DOOM) was a cliched, smart Asian kid, but I didn’t think it was overtly racist. It’s been years since I’ve seen it, but I know I’ve seen it as an adult & didn’t think anything of it. It’s possible I was watching it through my childhood filter, though.

  73. THE GOONIES contains an Asian kid (same kid that played Shortround in TEMPLE OF DOOM) who has a heavy Asian accent, big deal, I mean what, Asian accents don’t exist? just because a character has a silly accent that instantly makes it racist? he’s the smartest character in the whole movies who saves everyone’s asses more than once with the inventions that he creates, there’s more to the character than his accent, the Stepin Fetchit bots in Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS 2 are worse

    yeah, it may not quite be politically correct by today’s standards, but that’s one thing that’s great about 80’s movies, they didn’t give a fuck about political correctness back then and movies were better for it (the kids also cuss a bit, you wont see THAT in a modern kid’s movie either)

  74. Look I’m sorry I started developing taste and discernment at an early age gosh

  75. I’m not saying that I hate GOONIES, just that it doesn’t have a huge cult following over here or that I saw it more often than 2 times within 15 years.

  76. ironcupshrug – as a kid in the 90’s, the large majority of kids movies actually from the 90’s were Godawful and I had enough taste to see that at least, compared to shit like FREE WILLY or AIR BUD (basically any movie with an animal = shit) or TURBO: A POWER RANGERS MOVIE or God help us all THEODORE REX (you have not known cinematic hell until you’ve been forced to sit through that flick by your white trash friends), THE GOONIES is fucking THE SEVENTH SEAL

  77. now I feel though like I have to explain something, as a kid I did not live in a white trash neighborhood but there was a family that did live there that were a little white trashy and I used to hang out with their kids and while laughs were had, man, those kids were not smart

    and man, I’ll never forget the THEODORE REX incident, I was only like 5 or 6 but I knew a fucking terrible movie when I saw one

    you know, I just realized something, sometimes childhood kind of fucking sucked

  78. grimgrinningchris

    September 5th, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    That was the kid that played Data/Short Round’s real accent. What the fuck is racist about that? Hell, even spending the rest of his life in the U.S. he still has traces of the accent as an adult.

    Brendan- Though I agree that Gaiman’s protagonists ARE often being pulled through the story more than they are added to it, I still think they are well written and extremely charismatic (especially Richard Richard Mayhew Dick in NEVERWHERE) and often acting more as surrogates for the reader because the worlds and OTHER characters populating those worlds can be so dense and outlandish, we kinda NEED that surrogate to have everything explained to bla bla blah… I guess I can still understand the argument from a narrative standpoint, but hey- they’re just so damn likable, it doesn’t bother me that they can be largely passive.

    Now where is my NEVERWHERE movie? We need a better screen adaptation than the BBC series (which I still quite enjoy despite it being ugly as fuck).

  79. I have to disagree with anyone who tries to marginalize PRINCESS BRIDE. It is a classic, and not just a “girls” movie. It has action, adventure, comedy, and Andre The Giant.

  80. I watched “The Princess Bride” for the first time at something like age 29, and I thought it was great.

  81. Yeah. Not liking The Goonies, I get. I don’t agree, but I totally get it. Not liking The Princess Bride? That’s just incomprehensible. That’s like not liking milkshakes or new school supplies or blow jobs or Calvin & Hobbes.

  82. People like to point to Short Round as the most racist part of Temple of Doom. But really the most racist part of the film comes at the end. For most of the film, Indy and friends find themselves in one of the princely states, areas of India that were not annexed by British rule. While staying there, Indy discovers that there is a terrible cult that has infected the territory and has even the Maharajah under its control. In fact, this princely state even engages in the horrific practice of child slavery. But luckily, at the last minute, the British army comes in and sets everything right. In other words, a colonial power has to use military force to keep those barbaric Indians from harming their own people.

    I still really enjoy Temple of Doom. And you can defend some of these narrative choices, since the Maharajah only does some of these things under the control over the villain. But the fact that the British come in at the end of the film to save the day always makes me really uncomfortable.

    Yeah, and you can’t front on The Princess Bride.

  83. Never got the hype over THE PRINCESS BRIDE at all.

  84. It’s ok Broddie because I never understood you either. :)

  85. RBatty024 – the thing is though, that cult was based on a real cult that existed in India, I understand what you’re saying, but it’s not like they pulled all that stuff out of thin air

  86. Cary Elwes as Robin Hood >>>>>>>> Cary Elwes as Pirate Guy.

    I’m surprised that movie hasn’t been remade though actually. Orlando Bloom as the pirate and The Big Show in the Andre role pretty much sells itself. Maybe the prestigious WWE FILMS could get the ball rolling on that since they’re so eager to change & diversify their image now a days.

  87. Stardust is way underrated.

  88. Offtopic: Is Cary Elwes acting in Saw’s second half just plain awful, or a perverted form of mega-acting?

  89. I’ll back up Griff on the awful-ness of 90’s kids movies (non-Pixar ones anyway). I’m sure I enjoyed some of it at the time because I was a kid and didn’t know any better (I think the only one I hated right out of the gate was the POWER RANGERS movie because my mother’s friends kids who me and my brother were occasionally forced to hang out with LOVED that stupid fucking show, but I digress) but I don’t think it took long for a lot of them to sour. Especially the 3 NINJAS stuff, which basically encouraged kids to be violent and launched the career of noted filmatist Jon Turtletaub (who would go on to helm such classics as COOL RUNNINGS and THE KID).

  90. i enjoyed the movie, but after loving Sandman i kinda hated the book. and Neverwhere. Gaiman went downhill after the comics

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