(Paramount, 2007) D: Matthew Vaughn, w/ Charlie Cox, Claire Danes. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NN
Director Matthew Vaughn, best known for British crime thriller Layer Cake, calls this “a fairy tale for adults” during a making-of doc that’s distinguished primarily by the presence of source novelist Neil Gaiman. It isn’t quite “adult” if that means the warm-hearted embrace of onscreen sex and violence. This is more along the lines of The Princess Bride, which it intentionally resembles: a well-made light entertainment.
Hoping to impress his not-so-nice beloved, bumbling young Tristan (Charlie Cox) promises to bring her the fallen star they’ve just seen. Because it’s landed in Fairyland, it turns out to be a beautiful young woman (Claire Danes). His attempts to bring her home are complicated by a wicked witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) and a string of fratricidal princes.
The script is full of witty, smart scenes for the cast to have fun with. Cox and Danes bicker nicely. Pfeiffer revels in the witch’s gleeful nastiness and vanity. Robert De Niro does nicely as a sky-pirate captain who’s much more sensitive than he pretends to be.
Effects fans may be disappointed. There’s some nice work here, but spectacle takes a back seat to character, which is where the beauty of fairy tales always lives.
Extras Making-of doc, deleted scenes, bloopers. Widescreen. English, French, Spanish audio and subtitles.