Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goldman
Based on the Novel By: Neil Gaiman
Cinematography By: Ben Davis
Editor: Jon Harris
Cast: Ben Barnes, Robert Deniro, Claire Danes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Charlie Cox, Sienna Miller, Henry Cavill, Mark Strong, Jason Flemyng, Rupert Everett, Peter O’Toole, Ian McKellan, Ricky Gervais
In a countryside town bordering on a magical land, a young man makes a promise to his beloved that he’ll retrieve a fallen star by venturing into the magical realm.
For the grand adventure that the film is. It lacks an epic feel or grandiose locations and sights. Half the time it feels like the surroundings are sets. The film does end up better then you’d imagine though.
The lead Ben Barnes seems to be miscast. He feels weak and in effect unbelievably when he eventually becomes heroic. Especially when all the supporting characters are much richer and entertaining than the lead. Who lacks charisma and never comes close to being dashing. Though they try to make him so. Maybe that was the intention to go against type but it ends up not working at all.
What I really appreciate about the film is it’s macabre sense of humor and a mean streak to go with all this fantasy. While keeping the film fu adds a general sense of danger rather than films like THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Which while funny feels almost childlike and storybook clean. Whereas this film is a storybook and fantasy fairytale but with a bit of an edge. so that the film plays more for teens and adults.
Words like cute and fun come to mind while watching the film. Though it’s not what I would expect a director like Matthew Vaughn to make especially after his debut film LAYER CAKE a gangster film. He went to make this a full-fledged fantasy adaptation which is a wise choice showing he has range. In his talents though so far all of his films are adaptations. He is showing a diverse resume as he hasn’t made a truly bad film yet. So he has shown his talent which I would expect as a former producer of Guy Ritchie films.
The film is a fun little fantasy that you can get lost into the universe of and enjoy yourself. Which is rare these days. At least without it seeming processed and set up to sell toys.
It’s better than I personally thought it would be. The world they live in is never clearly defined. We never get to know the characters some of whom just seem like ideas more than developed characters integral to the story, Almost like distractions to pad out the story and have us not realize how thin the main story is but letting us get caught up in the situations, though the film is quite likable. The film stays within the fantasy limits but also tries to come off as smarter or more winking to the audience then most films of it’s type.
Though disappointingly another fantasy world that lacks minorities. It’s not a huge point but one I’d like to note probably not entirely the filmmaker’s fault but more could try. Minorities are underrepresented or not represented in most Fantasy Sci-Fi leaving you to wonder are they afterthoughts or in these so-called fantasy worlds are they Aryan wonderlands. Sorry to go off on a rant just a point that needed to be expressed.
Terry Gilliam Also almost directed the film which is a perfect example of the right director with the right material, but after directing THE BROTHERS GRIMM he was wiped out creatively. This would have been actually better for him to make.