REVIEW: TERMINATOR 3: RISE OF THE MACHINES

CAST

Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maggie)
Nick Stahl (Sin City)
Kristanna Loken (Bloodrayne)
Claire Danes (Homeland)
David Andrews (World War Z)
Mark Famigllietti (Flashforward)
Earl Boen (Marked For Death)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)

John Connor has been living off the grid in Los Angeles following the death of his mother, Sarah. Although Judgment Day did not occur on August 29, 1997, John still fears a war between humans and the machines. Unable to locate John in the past, Skynet sends a new model of the Terminator called the T-X to July 23, 2003, to kill other members of the Human Resistance. The T-X is more advanced than previous Terminators and has an endoskeleton with built-in weaponry, a liquid metal exterior similar to the T-1000, and can reprogram other machines. Unlike previous Terminators, its standard appearance is female. The Resistance sends a reprogrammed Terminator (T-850 – Model 101) to protect the T-X’s targets including John and his future wife, Kate Brewster.After killing several other targets, the T-X locates Kate and John at an animal hospital, where the former works and the latter had been stealing from; but they escape with the Terminator’s help. The Terminator takes John and Kate to a mausoleum where John’s mother is supposedly interred. Inside her vault, they find a weapons cache left at Sarah’s request in case Judgment Day occurred. Police arrive and a gun battle ensues, but the three escape in a hearse. The T-X also arrives and chases the Terminator and the others, but they escape. The Terminator reveals that John and his mother’s actions merely delayed Judgement Day, and that his plan to drive John and Kate to Mexico to escape the fallout when Judgment Day begins at 6:18 p.m. that day. John orders the Terminator to take him and Kate to see Kate’s father, a Lt. General who is supervising the building of Skynet after Cyberdyne Systems went defunct as an attempt to destroy Skynet’s core, and threatens to kill himself if the Terminator refuses. The Terminator calls John’s bluff but agrees to take them after Kate orders him to. The Terminator reveals that he killed John on July 4, 2032; Kate sent him back from the future after having him captured and reprogrammed, and is the only one who can give him orders.At the Air Force base, General Brewster faces pressure from the President to activate Skynet to stop a computer virus infecting computers all over the world, unaware that the virus is Skynet establishing control over the worldwide computer network. John and Kate arrive too late to stop Skynet from being activated, and its machines begin attacking the staff. Brewster is mortally wounded by the T-X, which arrived before John, Kate, and the Terminator. Before dying, he gives Kate and John a code book and the location of what John believes is Skynet’s system core. John and Kate head for the tarmac to take General Brewster’s airplane to reach Crystal Peak, a military base built inside the Sierra Nevada that is hardened against nuclear attack. The T-X and the T-850 battle each other, and the T-X severely damages the T-850 before reprogramming it to kill John and Kate. The T-X pursues John and Kate through the military base but becomes trapped when a particle accelerator is activated and the magnetic field bonds it to the accelerator. In the hangar, the Terminator, unable to control his outer functions but still consciously aware, attacks John and Kate before John convinces it to reject the T-X’s control, and deliberately shuts its corrupted system down, enabling John and Kate to escape. Shortly after they leave, the Terminator’s system reboots.John and Kate reach Crystal Peak and begin entering the access codes to gain entry when the T-X arrives by helicopter. Just as she is about to attack, the rebooted Terminator arrives in a second helicopter and crashes into the T-X, crushing it. The T-X pulls itself from the wreckage and attempts to drag itself inside the bunker to follow John and Kate. The Terminator holds the bunker open long enough for John and Kate to lock themselves inside, then uses one of its hydrogen fuel cells to destroy both itself and the T-X.John and Kate discover that the facility is not Skynet’s core but a nuclear fallout shelter and that Skynet has no core because it had merged with the Internet. Judgment Day begins as nuclear missiles are fired at locations worldwide, killing billions. They begin receiving radio transmissions on the emergency equipment. John tentatively assumes command by answering radio calls asking for assistance, guidance and direction from all over the country.I would definitely recommend this film to anyone that liked the previous Terminator films. I would hope that you can enjoy this for what it is and not what James Cameron might have done had he directed the film. Just because Cameron opted not to direct the film does not mean it’s a bad film.

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REVIEW: LITTLE WOMEN

CAST

Winona Ryder (Black Swan)
Gabriel Byrne (Stigmata)
Trini Alvarado (The Frighteners)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring It On)
Claire Danes (Romeo + Juliet)
Christian Bale (Batman Begins)
Eric Stoltz (Caprica)
John Neville (Odyssey 5)
Mary Wickes (Sister Act)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Matthew Walker (Highlander: The Seires)
Donal Logue (Gotham)

The film focuses on the March sisters: beautiful Meg (Trini Alvarado), tempestuous Jo (Winona Ryder), tender Beth (Claire Danes), and romantic Amy (Kirsten Dunst), who are growing up in Concord, Massachusetts during and after the American Civil War. With their father away fighting in the war, the girls struggle with major and minor problems under the guidance of their strong-willed mother, affectionately called Marmee (Susan Sarandon). As a means of escaping some of their problems, the sisters revel in performing in romantic plays written by Jo in their attic theater.Living next door to the family is wealthy Mr. Laurence (John Neville), whose grandson Theodore, nicknamed “Laurie” (Christian Bale), moves in with him and becomes a close friend of the March family, particularly Jo. Mr. Laurence becomes a mentor for Beth, whose exquisite piano-playing reminds him of his deceased daughter, and Meg falls in love with Laurie’s tutor John Brooke (Eric Stoltz). Mr. March is wounded in the war and Marmee is called away to nurse him. While Marmee is away, Beth contracts scarlet fever from a neighbor’s infant. Awaiting Marmee’s return, Meg and Jo send Amy away to live in safety with their Aunt March. Prior to Beth’s illness, Jo had been Aunt March’s companion for several years, and while she was unhappy with her position she tolerated it in the hope her aunt one day would take her to Europe. When Beth’s condition worsens, Marmee is summoned home and nurses her to recovery just in time for Christmas. Mr. Laurence gives his daughter’s piano to Beth, Meg accepts John Brooke’s proposal and Mr. March surprises his family by returning home from the war.Four years pass; Meg and John marry, and Beth’s health is deteriorating steadily. Laurie graduates from college, proposes to Jo and asks her to go to London with him, but realizing she thinks of him more as a big brother than a romantic prospect, she refuses his offer. Jo later deals with the added disappointment that Aunt March has decided to take Amy, who is now sixteen (and now played by Samantha Mathis), with her to Europe instead of her. Crushed, Jo departs for New York City to pursue her dream of writing and experiencing life. There she meets Friedrich Bhaer (Gabriel Byrne), a German professor who challenges and stimulates her intellectually, introduces her to opera and philosophy, and encourages her to write better stories than the lurid Victorian melodramas she has penned so far.In Europe, Amy is reunited with Laurie. She is disappointed to find he has become dissolute and irresponsible and scolds him for pursuing her merely to become part of the March family. In return, he bitterly rebukes her for courting one of his wealthy college friends in order to marry into money. He leaves Amy a letter asking her to wait for him while he works in London for his grandfather and makes himself worthy of her. Jo is summoned home to see Beth, who finally dies of the lingering effects of scarlet fever that have plagued her for the past four years. Grieving for her sister, Jo retreats to the comfort of the attic and begins to write her life story. Upon its completion, she sends it to Professor Bhaer. Meanwhile, Meg gives birth to twins Demi and Daisy. A letter from Amy informs the family Aunt March is too ill to travel, so Amy must remain in Europe with her. In London, Laurie receives a letter from Jo in which she informs him of Beth’s death and mentions Amy is in Vevey, unable to come home. Laurie immediately travels to be at Amy’s side. They finally return to the March home as husband and wife, much to Jo’s surprise and eventual delight.Aunt March dies and she leaves Jo her house, which she decides to convert into a school. Professor Bhaer arrives with the printed galley proofs of her manuscript but when he mistakenly believes Jo has married Laurie he departs to catch a train to the West, where he is to become a teacher. Jo runs after him and explains the misunderstanding. When she begs him not to leave, he proposes marriage and she happily accepts.It’s a small scale masterpiece that will leave you in tears. The film is honest and true in it’s portrayal of human emotion. It went from being an adaptation of the book to it’s own story and portrayal of people and their lives. It’s beautiful aesthetically and dramatically, and a real gem of a film.

 

REVIEW: ROMEO + JULIET

CAST

Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception)
Claire Danes (Brokedown Palace)
John Leguizamo (Kick-Ass 2)
Harold Perrineau (Constantine)
Pete Postlethwaite (Solomon Kane)
Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas)
Brian Dennehy (First Blood)
Dash Mihok (Gotham)
Jesse Bradford (Swimfan)
Zak Orth (The Other Guys)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Diane Venora (The Jackal)
Vincent Laresca (COach Carter)
Miriam Margolyes (Babe)
Paul Rudd (Ant-Man)
Vondie Curtis-Hall (Daredevil)
M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner)
Christina Pickles (Masters of The Universe)

In Verona Beach, the Capulets and the Montagues are arch-rivals. The animosity of the older generation—Fulgencio and Gloria Capulet and Ted and Caroline Montague—is felt by their younger relatives. A gunfight between the Montague boys led by Benvolio, Romeo’s cousin, and the Capulet boys led by Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, creates chaos in the city. The Chief of Police, Captain Prince, reprimands the families, warning them that if such behavior continues, their lives “shall pay the forfeit of the peace”. Benvolio meets Romeo on a beach. While playing a game of pool they learn of a party being held by the Capulets that evening which they decide to gate-crash. Romeo agrees to come after discovering that Rosaline, with whom he is in love, is attending.The Montague boys meet their friend, Mercutio, who has tickets to the Capulet party. Romeo takes the ecstasy Mercutio gave him and they proceed to the Capulet mansion. The effects of the drug and the party overwhelm Romeo, who goes to the restroom. While admiring an aquarium, he and Juliet see each other and fall instantly in love. Tybalt spots Romeo and vows to kill him for invading his family’s home, but Fulgencio stops him.Romeo and Juliet sneak into an elevator and kiss. The nurse spots them when the doors open and drags Juliet away, while revealing to her that Romeo is a Montague. At the same time, Romeo realizes that Juliet is a Capulet. Mercutio takes Romeo from the party, but he sneaks back to the mansion, hiding under Juliet’s balcony. Juliet emerges into the yard and proclaims her love for him before Romeo sneaks up behind her. Juliet warns him that he is risking his life, but Romeo tells her he does not care whether he is caught. Knowing her nurse is looking for her, Juliet tells him that, if he sends word by the following day, they will be betrothed. Romeo visits Father Lawrence, telling him he wants to marry Juliet. He agrees to marry the pair in hopes that their marriage will help ease the tensions between the families. Romeo passes the word on to Juliet’s nurse and the lovers are married. Tybalt encounters Mercutio just as Romeo arrives. Romeo attempts to make peace, but Tybalt assaults him. Mercutio intervenes and batters Tybalt, and is about to finish him off by hitting him with a log when Romeo stops him. Tybalt then wounds Mercutio with a shard of glass, which Mercutio claims is merely “a scratch”. But as he realizes the cut is much worse than he thought, Mercutio curses both the Montagues and the Capulets before dying in Romeo’s arms. Enraged, Romeo chases after a fleeing Tybalt and guns him down.Captain Prince banishes Romeo from the city. Romeo goes into hiding with Father Lawrence, who treats Romeo’s injuries and says that, after some time passes, he will help Romeo and Juliet return to the city and reconcile with their family and friends. The nurse tells Romeo that Juliet is waiting for him. When Romeo climbs over Juliet’s balcony, she kisses him and they consummate their marriage. Fulgencio decides Juliet will marry Dave Paris, the governor’s son.The next morning, Romeo narrowly escapes as Juliet’s mother tells her that the family has promised she will marry Paris. She refuses to marry, so her father threatens to disown her. Her mother and nurse insist it would be in her best interest to marry Paris. To get out of this, Juliet runs away from home and sees Father Lawrence, very angrily imploring him to help her and threatening to commit suicide. Father Lawrence proposes she fake her own death and be put in the Capulet vault to awaken 24 hours later. Romeo will be told of the plot, sneak into the vault, and once reunited the two can travel to Mantua. He gives her the potion which mimics death. After saying goodnight to her mother, Juliet drinks the potion and falls into a coma. She is found in the morning, declared dead, and placed in the vault. Balthasar, one of Romeo’s cousins, learns that Juliet is dead and tells Romeo, who is not home when the messenger arrives to tell him of the plan.Romeo returns to Verona, where he buys poison. As he goes to the church, Captain Prince finds out he is back, and tries to capture him, without success. Father Lawrence learns that Romeo has no idea Juliet is alive. Romeo enters the church where Juliet lies and bids her goodbye. She awakens just as Romeo takes the poison; the two thus see each other before he dies. After he dies, Juliet picks up Romeo’s gun and shoots herself in the head, dying instantly. The two lovers are discovered in each other’s arms. Prince condemns both families, whose feuding led to such tragedy, and coroners remove the two bodies.Always loved this version. Wonderful for teenagers studying the play. Superb performances from every actor in the film, and such energy in the filming/direction,.

REVIEW: IGBY GOES DOWN

CAST

Kieran Culkin (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Claire Danes (Homeland)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Amanda Peet (Identity)
Ryan Phillippe (Crash)
Bill Pullman (Lost Highway)
Susan Sarandon (Tammy)
Rory Culkin (Signs)
Jim Gaffin (That 70s Show)
Cynthia Nixon (Hannibal)

Jason “Igby” Slocumb, Jr. (Kieran Culkin) is a misanthropic 17-year-old boy, rebelling against the oppressive world of his strict East Coast “old money” family. His schizophrenic father, Jason (Bill Pullman), has been committed to an institution. Igby fears he will eventually suffer a mental breakdown like his father. His mother, Mimi (Susan Sarandon), is self-absorbed and distant. Igby mockingly describes his ambitious older brother Ollie (Ryan Phillippe) as a fascist or, alternatively, a Young Republican, and that he studies “neo-fascism” (economics) at Columbia University.Igby figures there must be a better life out there, and he sets out to find it, rebelling against his family at every opportunity. After happily flunking out of several prep schools, he ends up in a brutal military academy where he gets beaten by his classmates. After escaping and spending time in a Chicago hotel courtesy of his mother’s credit card, Igby is sent to New York for the summer to his godfather D.H. Banes (Jeff Goldblum).While working construction for D.H., Igby first encounters Rachel (Amanda Peet), his godfather’s heroin-addicted trophy mistress. Rather than return to school, he escapes into the bohemian underworld of Manhattan, hiding out with Rachel and her performance artist friend Russel (Jared Harris). Eventually, he and Rachel have sex. After being suspected and scolded by D.H., he then hooks up with terminally bored, part-time lover, Sookie (Claire Danes), only for her to later leave him for Ollie.Despite seeming cold and distant, Mimi is not unaffected by her rebellious son. She describes Igby’s conception as an act of animosity and it shouldn’t be a surprise that his life follows the same course. His name is explained as a family in-joke. As a child, he would blame his toy bear, Digby, for things he had done, mispronouncing it as “Igby”. In order to get him to take responsibility for his actions, his family would call him Igby whenever he lied. Igby is informed by Russell that his mother Mimi is dying from breast cancer and so he returns to see her. She has arranged to commit suicide with help from Ollie, who feeds her poisoned strawberry yogurt.Before she dies, Mimi makes a final revelation, casually inquiring of Igby, “I take it you know that D.H. is your father?” Igby leaves for Los Angeles in an attempt to finally make a clean break by getting 3,000 miles away from his family.Culkin is especially brilliant , but everyone shines here – Sarandon, Pullman, Danes, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Jeff  Goldblum, and of course Jared Harris, who positively reeks eccentricity without even having to open his mouth. A fine first film from a director/writer who definitely bears watching.

 

REVIEW: THE HOURS

CAST

Nicole Kidman (Batman Forever)
Julianne Moore (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay)
Meryl Streep (Into The Woods)
Stephen DIllane (Game of Thrones)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Linda Bassett (Calander Girls)
Toni Collette (Japanese Story)
John C.Reilly (Cyrus)
Ed Harris (The Abyss)
Margo Martindale (Mike and Molly)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Claire Danes (Brokedown Palace)
Jeff Daniels (Allegiant)

With the exception of the opening and final scenes, which depict the 1941 suicide by drowning of Virginia Woolf in the River Ouse, the action takes place within the span of a single day in three different years and alternates between them throughout the film. In 1923, Virginia has begun writing the book Mrs Dalloway in her home in the town of Richmond outside London. In 1951, troubled Los Angeles housewife Laura Brown escapes from her conventional life by reading Mrs Dalloway. In 2001, New Yorker Clarissa Vaughan is the embodiment of the novel’s title character, as she spends the day preparing for a party she is hosting in honor of her former lover and friend Richard, a poet and author living with AIDS who is to receive a major literary award. Richard tells Clarissa he has stayed alive for her sake, and the award is meaningless because he didn’t get it sooner, until he was on the brink of death. She tells him she believes he would have won the award regardless of his illness. Richard often refers to Clarissa as “Mrs. Dalloway” – her namesake – because she distracts herself from her own life the way the Woolf character does.

Virginia, who has experienced several nervous breakdowns and suffers from bipolar disorder, feels trapped in her home. She is intimidated by servants and constantly under the eye of her husband, Leonard, who has begun a publishing business, Hogarth Press, at home to stay close to her. Virginia both welcomes and dreads an afternoon visit from her sister Vanessa and her children. After their departure, Virginia flees to the railway station, where she is awaiting a train to central London, when Leonard arrives to bring her home. He tells her how he lives in constant fear that she will take her own life. She says she fears it also but argues that if she is to live, she has the right to decide how and where.

Pregnant with her second child, Laura spends her days in her tract home with her young son, Richie. She married her husband, Dan, soon after World War II. On the surface they are living the American Dream, but she is nonetheless deeply unhappy. She and Richie make a cake for Dan’s birthday, but it is a disaster. Her neighbor Kitty drops in to ask her if she can feed her dog while she’s in the hospital for a procedure. Kitty pretends to be upbeat, but Laura senses her fear and boldly kisses her on the lips; Kitty laughs it off as if it didn’t happen. Laura and Richie successfully make another cake and clean up, and then she takes Richie to stay with Mrs. Latch. Richie runs after his mother as she leaves, fearing that she will never come back. Laura checks into a hotel, where she intends to commit suicide. Laura removes several bottles of pills and Mrs. Dalloway from her purse and begins to read it. She drifts off to sleep and dreams the hotel room is flooded. She awakens with a change of heart and caresses her belly. She picks up Richie, and they return home to celebrate Dan’s birthday.

Clarissa appears equally worried about Richard’s depression and the party she is planning for him. Clarissa, who is bisexual and has been living with Sally Lester for 10 years, had been in a relationship with Richard during their college days. She meets with Richard’s ex-lover Louis Waters, who has returned for the festivities. Clarissa’s daughter, Julia, comes home to help her prepare. Richard has taken a combination of Xanax and Ritalin and tells Clarissa she is the most beautiful thing he ever had in life, before he commits suicide in front of her. Later that night, Laura, who is Richard’s mother, arrives at Clarissa’s apartment. It is clear that Laura’s abandonment of her family was deeply traumatic for Richard, but Laura reveals it was a better decision for her to leave the family after the birth of her daughter rather than commit suicide. She has led an independent, happier life as a librarian in Canada. She does not apologize for the hurt she caused to her family (Dan and their daughter are also both dead) and suggests that it’s not possible to feel regret for something over which she had no choice. She acknowledges that no one will forgive her, but she offers an explanation: “It [her life] was death. I chose life.” When Julia visits Laura in her bedroom, she treats her with kindness and sensitivity that Laura does not expect to receive.

The film ends with a line from Virginia’s suicide note (in voice-over) in which she thanks Leonard for loving her: “Always the years between us. Always the years. Always the love. Always the hours.”

A great adaptation. Fantastic acting from all those involved. Three women portray / mirror the life of Clarissa Dalloway, heroine of the novel Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. This movie is a masterpiece & the emotion flows like water and at times is very sad but worth watching every minute. A beautifully crafted piece of art.

 

REVIEW: THE MOD SQUAD (1999)

CAST

Claire Danes (Stardust)
Omar Epps (Scream 2)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Dennis Farina (Get Shorty)
Josh Brolin (Men In Black 3)
Steve Harris (The Rock)
Richard Jenkins (The Cabin In The Woods)
Michael O’Neill (Bates Motel)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Michael Lerner (Elf)
Monet Mazur (Blow)
Mariah O’Brien (Halloween 6)
Eddie Girffin (The New Guy)

The Mod Squad has an intriguing cast, a director who knows how to use his camera and a lot of sly humor. Shame about the story. When you see this many of the right elements in a lame movie, you wonder how close they came to making a better one. The director, Scott Silver, co-wrote the script himself, and has to take some of the blame: This is a classy production and deserves better.
The premise is from the old TV series. Three young screw-ups are interrupted at the beginning of criminal careers, and recruited by a police captain to form an undercover squad. Their assignment: Infiltrate a club where prostitution and drug-dealing seem to be happening. The mod squad doesn’t carry guns (officially, anyway), doesn’t have badges, and I’m not sure if they can make arrests; maybe they’re more like high-level snitches.The members are described by a Rod Serling-type voice over the opening credits. Julie (Claire Danes) was “a runaway–an addict at 18.” Pete (Giovanni Ribisi) “went straight from Beverly Hills to County Jail.” Linc (Omar Epps) “doesn’t blame his crimes on anything.” (He’s black, and so the implication, I guess, is that this is worthy of comment.) In the good-looking opening sequence, filmed by Ellen Kuras, they’re intercut with dancers at a club, get into a fight, and then find themselves being debriefed and lectured by Capt. Greer (Dennis Farina), who orders them to stand up when they talk to him, quit sitting on his desk, etc. Of course their bad manners are a curtain-raiser to bravery, heroism and astonishing crime-fighting skills. The skills, alas, are astonishing because they’re so bush league. The main investigative technique in this movie consists of sneaking up on people and eavesdropping while they explain the entire plot and give away all the secrets. Julie falls for a former lover, follows him to a rendezvous with a drug kingpin (Michael Lerner) and overhears choice nuggets of conversation (“None of them have any idea I know they’re cops!”). Then she follows him home and hides in his closet while the faithless louse sleeps with another woman.

Pete, meanwhile, is even more clever. He creeps up on a hideout and hides behind a wall while tape-recording a full confession. It goes without saying his tape will later be played over a loudspeaker in order to incriminate the bad guys. He uses one of those little $29 microcassette recorders–you know, the kind that can record with perfect fidelity at 20 yards outdoors on a windy day.As the mod squaders were creeping around, eavesdropping and peeping through windows, I grew restless: This is the kind of stuff they rewrote the Nancy Drew books to get rid of. Too bad, because I liked the pure acting touches that the cast brought to their roles. Ribisi (from “Friends,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “The Other Sister”) has a kind of poker-faced put-upon look that’s appealing, especially when he gets beat up and goes back to Beverly Hills and his dad chortles heartily at the claim that his kid is now a cop. Danes (“William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet”) has a quick intelligence that almost but not quite sells the dumb stuff they make her do. Epps (“Scream 2,” “Higher Learning”) is the dominant member of the squad, who tries to protect the others from their insane risk-taking.And there’s a small but indispensable supporting role by Michael Lerner as the crewcut evil kingpin, who intimidates his enemies by dancing with them (“I’m not a fairy–I just like to dance”). He delivers his dialogue indirectly, as an ironic commentary on the horrible things he always seems about to do. So all of this is a good start, but the screenplay just doesn’t provide the foundation. Consider Billy, the Josh Brolin character, who is Julie’s once and future boyfriend. We know from the first moment we see him that he’s no good. We’re tipped off by how suddenly Julie goes for him; if the point were romance, the movie would let them take longer, but since the point is for her to be deceived, she has to rush in heedlessly. No girl meets a guy who dumped her and broke her heart, and immediately drags him into a toilet stall for sex. Especially not now that she’s clean and sober, as Julie is (although the movie repeats the tiresome cliche that all recovering alcoholics immediately turn to drink after a setback–preferably swigging from a fifth). What I’d love to know is how the screenplay got green-lighted. This is a top-drawer film with a decent budget and lots of care about the production values. The cast is talented and well-chosen. The movie is even aware of potential cliches.

REVIEW: STARDUST

CAST

Charlie Cox (Daredevil TV)
Claire Danes (Terminator 3)
Ian McKellen (The Hobbit)
Michelle Pfeiffer (Dark Shadows)
Robert De Niro (Limitless)
Sienna Miller (Layer Cake)
Ricky Gervais (The Invention of Lying)
Peter O’Toole (Supergirl)
Ben Barnes  (The Chronicles of Narnia 2)
Henry Cavill  (Man of Steel)
Mark Strong (Green Lantern)
Jason Flemyng  (X-men: First Class)
Rupert Everett (Shrek 2)
Julian Rhind-Tutt (Rabbit Fever)

A village lies near a gap in a stone wall bordering the magical kingdom of Stormhold. The gap is guarded constantly but Dunstan Thorn manages to go through and meets an enslaved princess, Una. She offers him a glass snowdrop in exchange for a kiss, then invites him on her trailer. Nine months later, the Wall Guard delivers a baby to Dunstan, saying his name is Tristan.Eighteen years later, the dying king of Stormhold throws a ruby into the sky, decreeing that his successor will be the first of his fratricidal sons to recover it. The gem hits a star, they fall together and the remaining sons, Primus and Septimus independently search for the gem.In Wall, Tristan sees the star fall and vows to get it for the object of his infatuation, Victoria, in return for her hand in marriage. Tristan learns that his mother is from beyond the wall, and receives a Babylon candle that she had left for him, which instantly takes the user to any desired location. Tristan lights it and is transported to the fallen star, personified as a beautiful woman named Yvaine. He promptly chains her to take her home to Victoria.Three ancient witches in Stormhold resolve to eat the fallen star’s heart to recover their youth and replenish their powers. Their leader, Lamia, eats the remnants of an earlier star’s heart, and sets off to find Yvaine. She conjures up a wayside inn as a trap.Yvaine becomes tired, so Tristan chains her to a tree and promises to bring food. In his absence, a unicorn releases her but unwittingly takes her to Lamia’s inn. Tristan discovers Yvaine gone, but the stars whisper that she is in danger, telling him to get on a passing stagecoach, which happens to be Primus’s. At the inn, they interrupt Lamia’s attempt to kill Yvaine. Lamia kills Primus, but Tristan and Yvaine use the Babylon candle to escape into the clouds, where they are captured by pirates in a flying ship who teach Tristan how to fence.Septimus discovers that, as the last surviving son, he need only find the stone to claim the throne. He learns it is in the possession of the fallen star and realises that the heart of a star grants immortality. After leaving Captain Shakespeare’s ship, Tristan and Yvaine confess their love for one another and spend the night together at an inn. Come morning, Tristan leaves Yvaine sleeping and goes to Wall with a lock of her hair, to tell Victoria he won’t marry her, having fallen in love with Yvaine. When the lock turns to dust, he realises Yvaine will die if she crosses the wall, and rushes back to save her.Yvaine finds Tristan gone, and starts walking towards the wall, thinking he abandoned her for Victoria. Tristan’s mother Una notices Yvaine walking to her doom, so takes the caravan of her enslaver, a witch named Ditchwater Sal, to the wall to stop her. Lamia arrives, kills Sal, and captures Una and Yvaine, taking them to the witches’ castle. Septimus and Tristan both pursue Lamia, agreeing to work together for the time being. Barging into the castle, Septimus recognises the princess as his long-lost sister and Una informs Tristan that she is his mother.Septimus and Tristan kill two of the witches, but Lamia uses a voodoo doll to kill Septimus and make his corpse fight Tristan. Lamia is about to finish Tristan off, when she appears to break down over the loss of her sisters. Lamia frees Yvaine but her feigned defeat was just a ruse to bolster Yvaine’s broken heart. As Tristan and Yvaine embrace, their love allows her to shine once again, vaporising Lamia in a blinding flash of starlight.Tristan retrieves the jewel that Yvaine was wearing. As the jewel turns red, Una explains that, as her son, Tristan is the last male heir of Stormhold. He becomes king with Yvaine as his queen whilst Dunstan and Una are reunited. After 80 years of ruling Stormhold, they use a Babylon candle to ascend to the sky, where Tristan also becomes a star and the pair live forever in the sky.It’s difficult to think of any negatives with this movie. It’s light, breezy, fresh and fun but not shallow. A great story with intelligent characters it is laugh-out-loud funny in many places, but with some real moments of pathos and emotional intensity elsewhere. Fantasy movies as good as this don’t come along very often these days.