Enchanted
ENCHANTED. 2007
Director: Kevin Lima

STARDUST. 2007
Director: Matthew Vaughn

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



An absolutely charming & occasionally funny tale of Disney-type cartoon characters crossing through a dimension into modern New York, Enchanted (2007) is almost science fiction in posing a "what if" query. What if people who behaved like Disney cartoon characters confronted & were confronted by the real world?

Cinderella-like Giselle (Amy Adams) can induce talking animals to dance with her & do her chores. When she becomes "real" in New York, she still has this power, though the primary wildlife consists of rats, flies, & crippled pigeons. One beasty from the cartoon world has crossed over with her, & is now a semi-normal chipmunk surprised to realize he can no longer speak & having to become very good at pantomime.

EnchantedIn her cartoon world she was able to induce everyone around her to burst out in song. And curiously enough, she can turn a street in New York city into a veritable musical number. There could've been more of the cheographed songs, but thee big numbers suffices.

But the city imposes as much on her as she on it. To everyone she meets, she's a nutter, even if a fun & pleasant nutter.

Rationalist attorney & single father Robert Phillips (Patrick Dempsey) & his kid Morgan (Rachel Covey) end up trying to protect Giselle from herself, intending to in some way to help her out by fobbing her off somewhere, but end up keeping her.

Robert the rationalist is much, much slower than the kid to realize, & believe, there's something of the supernatural going on with her.

Giselle has been tossed into our dimension by the wicked Queen Narissa (Susan Sarqandon), who is the aunt of the Prince Charming figure, here called Edward (James Marsden). Prince Edward pursues Giselle across the dimensional divide, & the absurdities he attempts to impose on his new surroundings require him to be one powerfully dim bulb to never quite catch on to reality.

Giselle, however, is beginning to change from cartoon character to real human being. She is beginning to doubt she wants to return with her prince to the cartoon dimension. She's falling for the attorney, & becoming very attached in a motherly way to Morgan, & motherless Morgan has fallen for her. It remains only for the rationalist to stop being such a cynical mensch & wise up that fairy tales are real.

EnchantedBut the wicked Queen Narisa has been observing through her magic mirror as Edward attempts to bring Giselle home.

She begins to worry her rival in beauty won't stay in exile. So she too crosses the barrier, bringing her poison apples.

This bitch is very ably played by Sarrandon. Her transformation into a dragon is almost as scary as in the Disney cartoon. The CGI isn't very "real" but only a cartoon dragon; so we don't really get to see what it would be like if that were real.

There are many things happening before big Ball & the climax with the dragon, a romantic comedy of misudnerstandings. The attorney's girlfriend Nancy (Idina Menzel) is jealous of Giselle, not convinced Robert is just helping a crazy girl. And of course Nancy's not wrong in her suspicions, even if the attorney thinks there's nothing going on.

His girlfriend, however, has a romantic streak that cannot be fulfilled outside of movies, & it is soon obvious she's more suited to Prince Edward. She just might be the better bride in the land of animation, though when Edward becomes king, we can easily guess Nancy will be the power behind the throne.

A silly film of course, it nevertheless has great moments like the spoofy but wild swordfight with reanimated corpse, or the nasty witch in her campy cool goat-drawn chariot. Shtick predominates, but it's all sincere & of a sweet variety of shtick.

Suited to children & tweens for sure, there's just enough depth to it to hold adult attention too. The novel changes to the fairytale situation such as the nature of the magically awakening kiss, & a princess becoming the heroic figure saving her man, will be grin-worthy revisions for viewers old enough to grasp simple ironies.

For adult interest the one weak point in all this affectation is Amy Adams' performance as Giselle. She's a mediocre actress whose comic timing falls short of brilliant, & she's even a mediocre beauty rather than fairy-tale-pretty. Kids won't notice her shortcomings, however, even if adults might.


Stardust A small rural village has for hundreds of years guarded a portal, night & day, into another world. In Neil Gaiman's Stardust (2007), one unbelieving young man dares to cross the crack in the ancient stone fence, & is instantly a believer.

He meets a woman leashed by a slender chain, claiming to be a princess enslaved by a witch. She seduces him & he returns to his own dimension, doing nothing heroic during his brief presence in this fairy tale realm. But nine months later a baby boy is brought to him to raise.

Eighteen years later Tristan (Charlie Cox) is of an age to claim his destiny. He's in love with the village beauty, or thinks he is at least, but as town nerd he hasn't been taken seriously as a suitor.

Really Victoria (Sienna Miller) is a silly thing, unworthy of Tristan's affection if he wasn't just a horny teenager foolishly judging the girl by looks, not character. Her actual boyfriend bullies him, as Tristan is the town geek.

When one evening he's failing at his poor attempts at courtship, Tristan & Victoria see a falling star, which lands in Stormhold across the barrier wall. He promises to bring her that fallen star as proof of his love. She obviously prefers the town jock, but suddenly her vanity is intrigued. She promises to take his suit more seriously if he really brings her a star.

StardustNow bare in mind stars are living beings that observe the earth, perhaps a little bit like angels or gods. When they fall upon the earth they become mere stones on the ordinary side of the barrier. But when they land in Stormhold, they have human form.

The King of Stormhold (Peter O'Toole) is dying, & his successor must be decided upon. It's a whimsically bloody businesses with his many sons killing one another off one by one. Each dead prince lingers as an unseen spirit, not to be liberated to the afterlife until a new king is settled. The increasing number of ghost-princes become a comedic chorus to the events.

The king had many sons but only one daughter, unseen in eighteen years. And the son of Princess Una (Kate Magowan) is one more possible heir, though Tristan has no idea who his mother is.

He's only in Stormhold to find the star. When he finds, he snares her in the magic leash, but at the same time becomes the protector of the beautiful star-maiden Yvaine (Claire Danes). He intends to keep his promise to Victoria, & bring the star-maiden to her.

Meanwhile three witches have just about run out of the last fallen star they captured, whose shining heart they've been eating bit by bit in order to extend their own lives & youth. Without a fresh heart, they'll turn into hags, then die.

So they want the newly fallen star-maiden to sacrifice & eat her heart. Foremost among these nasty witches is Lamia, played by Michelle Pfeiffer with a pure delight of disgusting evil. Pfeiffer is not at all unwilling as an actress to look simply repulsive as she ages & decays & loses her hair during her pursuit to kill the star-maiden get back her youth & power. In many ways she completely steals the film, evil often being so much more interesting than wussy dumbass goodness.

StardustTristan does not know that if the star-maiden ever crossed the barrier, she'd turn to stone or stardust, like any other meteor. He's not a whole lot smarter than others in the tale, & continues to act heroic mainly to fullfil his promise to the girl on whom he has a schoolboy crush.

When the star-maiden falls for him, she does not declare herself, as he's still such a dunce he won't let go of the crush on vain Victoria. Yvaine is willing to cross the barrier just because she's willing to die for love.

The star-maiden also wears the late king's jewel of kingship. When all the other brothers are dead, the remaining villainous prince still can't be king until he gets that jewel. So Prince Septimus (Mark Strong) pursues Yvaine & Tristam with as much venomous intent as the witch Lamia.

Tristam is helped along the way by a sky-piriate in a flying ship, played by Robert De Nero. He's called Captain Shakespeare, a name he assumes sounds mean & rugged, because he can shake a spear at his enemies.

At first De Niro seems totally bad at his role of pirate. His attempts at menace are totally lame. But when it turns out he's secretly a sissy who cross-dresses & likes to do peoples' hair, his character springs to comic life, & his fondness for Tristan & the star-maiden makes him a delight as a screwball character.

Many other fairy tale shinanigens proceed, toward the inevitable happy ending when Tristan realizes the girl he had a crush on is really a perfect match for her fatuous boyfriend. He leaves them to his love, though not before proving he's become a hero rather & no longer a geek (an authentic hero wouldn't've had to proven that). He skitters back to Stormhold to save the star-maiden, defeat the evil witches, & become the new king with the star-maiden his queen.

As a comedy Stardust is pretty good, not superb. As a romantic fairy tale it's no classic, but enjoyable. As a kid-flick it's perfect, without quite so much of the usual reliance on CGI, & more focus on excentric characters, & telling a real story with some lovely moments. For adults it'll seem pretty hoky at times, but forgo all logic & cynicism for the duration, & it'll win entertain the whole family at any age.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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