Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Stardust and Volver--Similar Yet Different

I've got a HUGE backlog of movie reviews, so I figured I better start doubling up again...

A month or so ago, I watched Stardust and Volver over the same weekend. While some might say that these movies are extremely different, I would argue that they share some very similar "fantasy" elements. But I can't say much about Volver without spoiling it, so you'll just have to trust me.

Stardust was hyped to the hilt when it came out, but then got fairly awful reviews, so I didn't end up seeing it in the theater as I had originally planned. Since it had been compared to my absolute favorite movie of all time, The Princess Bride, I was very curious about what it would be like, but then skeptical after the scathing critiques rolled in. So I forgot about it.

Eventually it made its way to my place courtesy of Netflix, and I have to tell you that I don't understand why there were so many haters out there for this movie. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I loved it, but I truly enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone who liked The Princess Bride. Perhaps the movie-going audience at large has grown too cynical to enjoy a true fantasy tale that's also downright goofy in parts, but not me. It probably didn't hurt that my expectations were really low before I watched it. I usually can't stand Claire Danes, who plays one of the leads, and I even got over my dislike of her (and I dare say she did pretty well in her role). Perhaps it was because I was distracted by all of the other stuff in the movie for which I'm known to have a particular affinity: unicorns, magic, witches, pirates, ghosts--I was in my glory.

There are also some other big names in the Stardust besides Ms. Danes... Michelle Pfeiffer and Robert De Niro... even Ricky Gervais and Sienna Miller have small roles. And none other than Gandalf (Ian McKellen) is the narrator. Here is a two-and-a-half-minute trailer that will give you a good feel for the movie.

I thought the only downside was that it was pretty long at 2 hours and 35 minutes... but it didn't drag or anything.

As for Volver, like I alluded to above, it's kind of hard to say much about the movie without spoiling a few of the twists. It comes to us from acclaimed Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar, and therefore is in Spanish with English subtitles. Both my husband and I realized that you have to read REALLY fast to catch everything. It stars Penelope Cruz as a mother who is trying to make ends meet for herself and her teenage daughter... very much a story about friends and family. I knew absolutely nothing about the movie before I watched it, and I really, really liked it. Some crazy things happened early on that I did not expect (and which made me wonder, "What kind of movie is this?"), but you just have to trust me and stick with it past the early scenes and you will be rewarded. But if you don't like subtitled movies and aren't a quick reader, then it's definitely not for you. All of the trailers I found gave away major parts of the movie, so I'll leave it at that!

- e

1 comment:

Craig said...

Hopefully, Lost fans are allowed to come crashing through the fourth wall and come read about the non-Locke-related life of e. :)

I haven't seen Volver, partly because of lack of opportunity, but more because I'm never sure what I think of Pedro Almodovar. Do I dislike him? No, but I'm not sure I like him either. Maybe it's that he likes to ask us, the audience, questions that we wouldn't want to ask ourselves.

Stardust, on the other hand, I went out and saw as quickly as possible when it was in the theater. Not only do I love films in the style of TPB or Willow (another film that came to mind when I watched Stardust), but I adore pretty much anything written by Neil Gaiman. Even for someone as cynical as I must admit to being, it was just so much fun and I really enjoyed it.