I saw the movie first on HD-DVD (yes, dead format, I know, who'd have thought Sony of the Betamax, ATRAC3 and UMD would get something right) last week and was pleasantly surprised. The film had slipped past my radar -- and that of most of the public -- when it was first released in theaters. But it turns out to be one of the more enjoyable movies I've seen lately. Stardust is the story of Tristan Thorn (in the book it's Tristran) who passes through a breach in the nearby wall of his perfectly normal 19th century English village and enters a land of magic and faerie. The big name stars are Robert DeNiro as Capt. Shakespeare of a flying ship, Michelle Pfeifer as an evil witch and Claire Danes as Yvaine, a fallen star.
Tristan, in an effort to win the heart of a shallow and soulless, yet attractive, village girl, vows to cross mountains and oceans to return to his love the fallen star, thinking it what it is in this world -- a piece of metallic rock. Instead, Tristan discovers that in the world of faerie, the star is a beautiful young girl and he becomes her protector against an evil witch who wishes to cut out the star's beating heart and in so doing gain youth and vitality.
The film is rated PG-13, but I think that most kids 9+ could handle it. After all, it's a fairy tale at its core.
The book the movie is based on was written by Neil Gaiman. Gaiman was intimately involved with the production of the movie, yet there are notable differences, large and small, between his fairy tale story and what appeared on the big screen.
Usually the book is better than the movie. I can't say that that's the case here. I'm not saying the book is worse. I'm say the book is ... different. It's an odd sort of middle ground that you seldom find yourself in. The book is somewhat less violent than the movie, and it also follows a slightly different plot line. The endings of the two are different -- but it's difficult to say that one is superior to the other. They're just different.
If you're looking for a good read or a good night at home watching a movie, I don't think you can go wrong with Stardust.