Archive for the 'Fantasy' Category

Stardust - US HD DVD

stardust.jpgMatthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust is a joy to behold. One of the best films of 2007, it was practically ignored on its theatrical release - but the reasons why are hard to grasp. It has a very strong cast - DeNiro, Pfieffer, Danes and a plethora of well known UK comic actors, it is a fantastic feel good fantasy and feels like a modern ‘Princess Bride’. It’s well directed, well acted and very funny, but on both it’s UK and US releases it sunk without a trace… It does seem that a modern fantasy that’s not filmed in New Zealand is doomed to fail from the start. A real shame.

Tristan (Charlie Cox) is so determined to take Victoria’s (Sienna Miller) hand in marriage that when they see a falling star he promises her that he will find it and bring it to her within a week. However, the fallen star turns out to be a beautiful woman named Yvaite (Claire Danes) and during their journey back to the village of Wall, Tristan finds himself falling in love with her. Unfortunately, Tristan isn’t the only person seeking Yvaite; the heart of a fallen star can give the person who takes it eternal life and three witch sisters led by Lamia (Michelle Pfieffer) are determined to do whatever it takes to capture and kill her; she also also hunted by some princes who must retrieve the ruby Yvaite holds to determine which of them will become king…

stardust_070921105550882_wideweb__300x445.jpgWith perfect casting, a touching screenplay, sypathetic direction and a wonderful story, Stardust certainly ticks all of the boxes. Shot mostly in the UK and Iceland, it makes use of the best that these countries can offer with some truly stunning scenery that offers just as much as any New Zealand backdrop. The biggest surprise is just how adept the director, Matthew Vaughn, is with the fantasy genre - it is a far cry from his usual work, but he seems to be able to hold his own.

The US HD DVD is a nice all-round package with excellent picture and sound quality, backed up by a decent making-of, outtakes, deleted scenes and theatrical trailer. It’s not a package that will set the world alight, but offers enough to justify a purchase.

Stardust HD DVD is available on Amazon.com for $19.99 at the time of writing, that’s around £10 at current exchange rates. The standard definition DVD is available for $17.99.

Film: 9/10, HD DVD: 7/10

Posted on 16th February 2008
Under: Fantasy, HD DVD | 1 Comment »

Pirates of the Carribean - Dead Man’s Chest

Oh dear. How far off the mark can Gore Verbinski be with his follow-up to his surprise hit, Pirates of the Carribean. While the first film was a well paced and well judged piece of entertainment, this time we have an over-long series of set pieces with minimal storyline. It’s too intense to be enjoyable and too fast to follow with any ease.

In addition, the characters become even more 2D (if that was possible?!) and their relationships from the first film may as well start from scratch. The only light in the film was Bill Nighy’s portrayal of Davy Jones, but even this can’t lift the film out of mediocrity. Coupled with so-so effects (which frequently suffer from the Star Wars-esque cartoony look) means POTC2 is a massive missfire.

It also seems that any successful film now seems to demand a mammoth two-part sequel that forces the audience to pay up twice to see the full story. Occasionally this works (Kill Bill), but more often than not it’s a massive waste of fimgoer’s money and time (POTC2, The Matrix sequels etc). Also, it’s usually a sign of a bad editor or director who can’t put together a tight story with a decent run-time - and given the plot of POTC2, there wasn’t enough story for one film let alone two.

4/10

Posted on 30th December 2006
Under: DVD, Fantasy | No Comments »

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