Tuesday, December 11, 2007

That was Mark Heap? From Spaced? Really?

I was really, really looking forward to seeing Stardust. I'm sure I've mentioned, in the past, being a huge fan of Neil Gaiman's work. I have all of his novels. I've even read them! I have 3 DIFFERENT copies of Stardust. Hell, I actually even have 3 Sandman tattoos. So, it's not an understatement to say that I have enjoyed his stories.

Which, of course, makes it difficult to watch a film adaptation without comparing it to the source material. It's the same as watching a remake of a beloved film. You don't really want to fault it for not being the original, but it's not the same story.

In the case of Stardust, the changes don't hurt the story too much. There are a few things that I really wish had been left in from the book though. For example, when the star falls to Earth, or more specifically, Stormhold, we are told immediately that the star is a person.
In this case, Claire Danes, or Yvaine. In the book, it's a mystery, for at least a few pages, that this is the case. And, from what I can recall, when Tristan finds her, we (as the readers) do not know what she is. We learn with him. This would not have been a bad change if not for the scene following her fall to Earth and preceding Tristan's discovery. In this scene, we see Michelle Pfiefer as a witch who wants the star in order to remain young. And, she eats a part of the heart of the last star that fell to Earth.

It's a subtle difference, really. I think, though, that it makes a difference in how you view the characters. This shows you, right away, that the witches are horrible. There is no question about it. It's like letting you know that a stop sign is red by hitting you in the face with it though. Had a little mystery existed as to the nature of the star, we could have learned that the witches were evil a little slower, and then let it build and develop over the course of the story. Unfortunately, director Matthew Vaughn decided to go a bit over the top with it. It's fine, and it works, it just could have worked better.

Then there was Captain Shakespeare, as played by Roberto De Niro. The EFFEMINATE Captain Shakespeare. This is a character that is largely not in the book. There is a somewhat similar character, in that he also has a flying ship, but Capt Shakespeare is new. And a bit odd. I could never tell if it was really funny or really disturbing to watch him prance around in a dress, give Tristan a makeover, and try to hide it all from his crew. It was decidedly strange, however.

The other big difference is the ending, which I won't go into to much detail about. It's not that the ending is changed, it's that the events leading to it have. I understand that the decision was made in order to make the ending more cinematic, but it's still kind of sad. If only because I love the ending from the book. Not every movie needs a climactic battle at the end.

Despite some minor changes though, it stays very true to the story. It has the same sort of feel as the novel did. And that's the hard thing to capture in any adaptation. The casting was spot on, and having Ian McKellan to narrate the story was a great choice. 8 bolts of lightning in a tube out of 10.