Matthew Layer Cake Vaughn’s scrupulous adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel looks set to take a space at the same box-office graveyard as several other recent fantasy pilots (Eragon, The Dark Is Rising). Vaughn quit his first big directing gig on X-Men 3: The Last Stand to take on this lavish adaptation, co-written with Jonathan Ross’ wife Jane Goldman, but there’s little that’s glistering about Stardust to suggest why.
Star Charlie Cox’s lack of pizzazz as adventurer Tristran isn’t an insurmountable problem, given that wooden central performances are a staple of fantasy films from Star Wars onwards, but Tristran’s adventures in a magical land – as he attempts to win the love of the beautiful Yvaine (Claire Danes) – emphasise his blandness by pitching him against one big-name star-turn after another, from Michelle Pfeiffer as rapidly ageing witch Lamia to Robert de Niro’s cross-dressing pirate. With further cameos from Ricky Gervais, Sienna Miller, Peter O’Toole and David Walliams, plus some lavishly rendered effects involving de Niro’s flying pirate ship, Stardust certainly has its share of entertaining moments, most of which are propped up by a prominent strain of archly British, sub-Monty Python-style humour. Sadly Vaughn’s flabby direction offers none of the caustic punch of his earlier directorial outing. A high-spirited pantomime.
General release from Fri 19 Oct.