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Stardust

Matthew Vaughn's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel travels a sword's edge between straight storytelling and winking send-up.

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In the late 19th-century, a love-smitten lad named Tristan (Charlie Cox) travels to a magical land to retrieve a fallen star, who turns out to be human-ish (a somewhat clunky Claire Danes). Director Matthew Vaughn adapts Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel into a mostly entertaining mélange of romance, comedy and adventure, featuring spells gone awry, men in puffy shirts, swordplay and cheesy special effects. Stardust travels a sword's edge between straight storytelling and winking send-up. Tristan's chief foe is a scheming witch portrayed with gusto by Michelle Pfeiffer; his savior is a ship's captain with a secret (Robert DeNiro plying his late-career sideline in over-the-top comic relief); and the requisite British thespians round out the crew. Stardust's plot offers few surprises -- you'll suss it out in the first 15 minutes, and then just wait another two hours for it to play out -- but at least it's a different sort of mid-summer diversion. Starts Fri., Aug. 10. 


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