Evan Almighty

Starring Claire Danes, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Pete O'Toole, Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro
Running Time: 127 mins
Rated: Rated PG
"Stardust,' based on the best-selling graphic novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, takes audiences on an adventure that begins in a village in England and ends up in places that exist in an imaginary world. A young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) tries to win the heart of Victoria (Sienna Miller), the beautiful but cold object of his desire, by going on a quest to retrieve a fallen star. His journey takes him to a mysterious and forbidden land beyond the walls of his village. On his odyssey, Tristan finds the star, which has transformed into a striking girl named Yvaine (Claire Danes).

Firmly grounded in the mythical fantasy genre so popular in the cinema for decades now, Stardust combines several elements from well known fairy stories, fables and myths. If the viewer surrenders over to the world on offer, the film works.

Given the nature of this material, everything about Stardust is big: the acting, sets, costumes, special effects and the choreographed action sequences. It is only the giant music score which dominates far too much. Stardust also has a star-studded cast making cameos throughout, and many of them act against type, pre-eminently Michelle Pfeiffer as the eldest and ugliest step sister.

The core values of the film - liberation comes from the risk of true love and light overcomes darkness - are solid, and it is very neatly packaged here. What is more subtly present is the contemporary cinema's fascination with the metaphysical, transcendent and otherworldly. This is in contrast to the same clientele for this film lacking any great interest in organised religion where these themes are cornerstones for faith.

Stardust is based on what is called a "graphic' novel, a cartoonish presentation of the world it creates. To that end this film is not for young children. There are a number of violent characters and showdowns, and sexual themes as well, which would disturb some adults and their children.
Paramount Out Now
Fr Richard Leonard sj is the director of the Australian Catholic Film Office.

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