A young, considerably annoying dreamer (Charlie Cox) promises the hottest lass in the kingdom (Sienna Miller) that he can bring her back a falling star. That leads him to the star herself (Claire Danes, excruciating), the witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) and king (Peter O'Toole) who are hunting her and the flamboyant pirate (Robert De Niro) who's swept up in the mess.
Big questions: Can "Stardust" capture the vision of Neil Gaiman's book, despite the fact that all of the movie's special effects appear to have been retrieved from the '80s? How did all these top-shelf actors get roped into such a bottom-shelf movie?
Skip it: "Stardust" is like nothing you've seen before, and we don't mean that in a good way. This is fantasy that never takes flight but instead sputters around, doing hopelessly earnest and self-consciously weird stuff that just registers as actors pathetically trying to look like they're having fun.
Catch it: Well, you won't see another movie this year that has a unicorn engulfed in flames. Does PETA represent fictional creatures?
Bottom line: "Stardust" is a disaster that's not upsetting but plenty embarrassing--with the exception of a few moments when the movie seems to wink at its own awfulness. The rest of the time it's a ridiculous parody of itself that would fall into the "so bad it's good" category if it weren't so surprisingly boring.
Bonus: Any Howard Dean supporters may want to alert his people that De Niro's pirate has stolen the politician's campaign slogan. As De Niro explains, reputations take "a lifetime to build, seconds to destroy."
Matt Pais is the metromix movies producer.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn; screenplay by Jane Goldman and Vaughn, based on the illustrated novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess; photographed by Ben Davis; edited by Jon Harris; music by Ilan Eshkeri; production design by Gavin Bocquet; produced by Lorenzo Di Bonaventura, Michael Dreyer, Gaiman and Vaughn. A Paramount Pictures release; opens Friday. Running time: 2:05. MPAA rating: PG-13 (for fantasy violence and some risque humor)
Yvaine - Claire Danes
Lamia - Michelle Pfeiffer
Capt. Shakespeare - Robert De Niro
Tristan - Charlie Cox
Victoria - Sienna Miller
Ferdy - Ricky Gervais