Movies for Gamers #5: Stardust

This is part of a series of reviews of movies particularly interesting or inspiring for role playing. Because of their setting, style, characters, editing or story. Read the introduction here or here if you are new to this series.

What happens when you let Neil Gaiman think up the story for a movie? Be sure it's dark, comical, and packed with surprises. And that's what Stardust is. It's also packed with special effects. Gaiman felt a bit guilty when he saw what he brought about by just imagining some odd things. It's quite different to dream up a skyship, or to actually have to build one. Even if it's only a mockup!

I'm not sure how it did worldwide, but in the Netherlands it was kind of lost between seasons. When it came out on DVD, it was straight into the low priced category.

Stardust deserved better, because it's magical, sweet and fun. Matthew Vaughn, who also was a producer on Snatch and Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels did a snappy job.

Yes, maybe lead player Charlie Cox isn't Brad Pitt – which may explain the lack of box office effect . His father in the film, Nathaniel Parker, surely has more sex appeal. But Cox plays his part with verve, and his transformation from newbie to a veteran adventurer is believable.

Claire Danes, who plays the literal Star Yvaine the movie Stardust is all about, plays beautifully. Especially her grimaces of disdain and disgust are a joy to watch. Evil prince Septimus played by Mark Strong is a wonderful bastard. And Michelle Pfeiffer is a great witch, enjoying her new found youth, which she hopes to prolong by sacrificing Yvaine. Hey, there even is a part for Peter O'Toole!

But the show is definitely stolen by Captain Shakespeare of the skies Robert De Niro. You have to see him do his thing in the mirror to believe it. And no, he isn't saying “are you talking to me?”

Stardust may be a bit too much of a straight fairy tale to be used in role playing. But you could tweak it a little and use quite a few of the characters and objects in the movie to enrich your campaign. Skyships, tubes with canned lightning, snakelike silver chains to bind people, magic candles to travel with, animated dead bodies, stardust...

And if your players saw it too, they'll know what you're talking about. Maybe they'll even smile, again. Like they did when watching.

1 comment:

  1. It certainly was a movie that got lost in the shuffle a bit. According to the IMDb info bombed quite heavily in the States. I thought it was an enjoyable enough flick with very nice cinematography. Can't help but wonder how Gilliam would have fared with this source material though, the adaptation was a bit safe overall. Which cannot be said for DeNiro's part - his role is a significant further step in the annihilation of his credibility. There's a fine line between irreverence and opening yourself up to ridicule, and with this part Bobby finally crossed it. Let's hope his upcoming renewed collaboration with Pesci lets him redeem himself.

    Anyways, the magic-realistic atmosphere of this movie and Gaiman's ideas could indeed offer enough inspiration for RPG.