08-13-2007, 10:03 AM #1Stardust - How to butcher a book **SPOILERS**
When I first saw the preview for this movie I was estatic. It was a great read even barely weighing in at 250 pages. It was written by Niel Gaiman, the author of The Sandman graphic novels as well as several books of short stories and great novels such as Never Where, American Gods, Good Omens, and The Anansi Boys.
His works of fiction are some of my favorites and always deliver. That being said...
This movie was horrible. Even as a viewer with no knowledge of the novel, I would have kept the same view.
First off, the movie was very chopped together and the casting was horrendous. Claire Danes is not a top notch actor. I was thinking that maybe she had gotten better in the time of her absence from the big screen. I also figured that casting Michelle Pfieffer and Robert Deniro in the movie foreshadowed great things, but ultimately let down.
The story is set in England and Deniro loses accents like I lose guitar picks. Last time I checked, I went through 12 in a week. His acting was below sub par, not something you expect from him. He was cast as a cross dressing airship pilot. I think the only appropriately cast roles were of the princes of stormhold, that played the parts relatively true to the characters from the book, despite the whole moving basically being re-written.
As a viewer that enjoyed the book, I was very disappointed in the fact that the book was basically thrown out and the movie just went from scratch. There were several MAJOR changes to the plot and to the characters that just totally ruined it.
The whole beginning had very little to do with the book and was almost like it was put together as an after thought to get the movie moving. What it did was set the movie up for being horrible. The plot was about a young man from the village Wall that traveled to the fair that happened once every 9 or 10 years and how he had a love interested that left him with a child. The child, grew up and was to propose to a girl that barely even looked at him as a proper person, let alone a suitor. Eventually one night when she was trying to get away from him, he proposed saying that he would do anything for her hand in marriage. A star fell and she tasked him with retreiving it for her. So he set off on a journey to recover the star, this happening at the same time as one of the festivals. The journey part being about the only thing that was kept true to the book.
A minor part that they made into a huge role in the movie was the babylon candle. In the book it was a rare candle that the main character recieved after saving a fellow traveler. In the movie, it seemed like every ten minutes there was a character asking for one of these, where in the book, it was used without much flash to show the main chacter traveling to the star. It was also used as an escape device when threatened by one of their assailants. The main character placed his hand into the flames of a burning building to light the little bit of wax that he formed with a wick to use to escape. He burned his arm severely and that was a pretty big part of the book, something the movie didn't even touch on.
The airship pilot was not a crossdresser. The whole scene aboard the ship was as rescue of the two main characters from a cloud. The crew was friendly from the start and were never portrayed as a bunch of Pirates of the Carribean rejects.
Another big part was the princes of stromhold, who strive to off one another until there was one left as king. The parts were played well, but the story was nothing like the original. The brother Septimus was not made out to be a cold blooded killer than ran around murdering any one that he could get his hands on. He was made to be cunning and devious and resourceful. The brother primus, the other major of the 7 princes, was offed in a very un dramatic event...completely destroying the later half of the story where the remaining brother could not be king since he didn't kill primus his self. He vowed revenge and set out to destroy the one who murdered his brother. Septimus did not value the star at all and was in no way, shape, or form made out to be hunting her.
One of the other big plot devices was the jewel of stormhold, which the dying king flung out to the heavens and told his prospective heirs that the one to retrieve it would be the true king. The gem, hit the star and coused her to fall. The gem, held by a chain was made out to be stuck around the star's waist and in plain view of no one. It was even made out that she could only give it to the certain individual that knew what it was and could ask her for it. In the movie, she picked it up and placed it around her neck, flaunting it to every one and anyone she came across.
I know that when you get movies from books, there's usually elements that are chaged and such, but it was more like this was an "inspired by the book" movie that just wanted to go for over the top but fell way too short. I believe a movie that is not well advertised based on such a good book has a responsibility to maintain at least some semblence to the book that it owes it's title and plot to than this did. The acting was generally bad, with a few moments of humour despite such a well know and some times extremely talented cast and had some ok visual effects, but the fact that it was so chopped together and butchered such a good book leaves me wondering why they even did it in the first place.
If you get a chance, read the book, stay away from the movie.
By the way, Rotten Tomatos have it at a 73% postive rating since my last visit. I have no idea how that happened since that's generally perceived as a good rating...I guess after all of these big fanatasy epics and movies like Lord of the Rings, I was expecting another good movie. Even those books remained some what true to the novel despite the scope of the movies and books...
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