I think – heck, I’m pretty sure – I have a new favourite movie.
I’ve gone trough favourites a lot lately. As many will tell you, my favourite movie from between 1991 and, I don’t know, 2000 or so, was Aliens. Things got uncertain for a while after that. A Knight’s Tale was in there for a while, then Serenity and recently, Transformers.
Last night, though, I went to the DVD store to find something to tide away a dull-TV Friday Night. I narrowed it down to three films; Surf’s Up, Stardust and Ratatouille (I was in a kids’ film mood and Enchanted isn’t out yet). I was keen on Surf’s Up (Shia leBoeuf and Jeff Bridges jamming on dialogue sounds like the hot-buttered awesome), but I figured I’d leave the final call to Vickie, and after telling me I didn’t have to get a kids’ film (no, she loves them too, she just wanted to be sure I didn’t think I was being brow-beaten into a genre) she asked for Stardust.
Now, I’m not a fan of Neil Gaiman; I’ve read Good Omens, his collaboration with Terry Pratchett, and American Gods, and that’s about it. I don’t mind him; I’m just rarely in any hurry to read his work (no, not even Sandman). Vickie’s even further down on the spectrum: She started reading American Gods under sufferance (we’d joined a very short-lived SF&F readers’ club at the Hornsby branch of Borders Books) and got as far as the chapter where Bilquis is introduced before expressing utter disgust and putting the book aside for ever more.
But after seeing Stardust, I told Vickie that I’d love to own a copy of the movie sometime. I’m even tempted to track the illustrated novel down, and am wondering what else of Gaiman’s is in a similar vein. While I’m a sucker for feel-good movies, Stardust felt like occupied a higher order of magnitude; it didn’t make me feel as though I’d had to, I don’t know, reduce myself to its level in order to love it, because it wasn’t afraid to hide its intelligence either. The acting was top-notch all around, I loved the appearances by all and sundry, Robert de Niro was – well, for crying out loud, if you don’t already know, go and rent the fucking thing. The women were great; Michelle Pfeiffer always does quality villainess and although I’ve kind of liked Claire Danes in other work, damned if she didn’t have me falling in love with her myself (only a little, Vickie love!) in this. Oh, and that Charlie Cox fellow? Yep, no problem with him whatsoever.
You know, I’ve always been willing to forgive sequels a little, mainly because in movies, we’re introduced to a bunch of characters with whom, if everything is working properly, we’ve come to like a lot – and after only an hour and a half, they’re gone. And that’s how I felt at the end of Stardust. I want to know more about the world of Stormhold and its people, but especially Tristan and Yvaine, I want to spend more time in their company. But the second greatest complement I think I can give the film is that it needs no sequel. Their story is told and over, and to try and shoehorn more into another movie would simply dilute the magic (even more so than the obligatory soft-rock tune over the end credits).
The greatest compliment? Simply that there are few things that make me quite as wistful as the thought that hopping through the gap in that high stone wall won’t really take me to Stormhold. Not even Peter Cullen lending his voice to Optimus Prime again could elicit that kind of feeling. Transformers is a guilty pleasure, whereas Stardust… well, that was magic.