Over Christmas while visiting family in Greenville, SC, I bought a stack of books at my favorite old haunt: Barnes & Noble. Among those books was Stardust by Neil Gaiman (more about this in a sec). Being a grad student with a raging blagoblag addiction, I don’t have a whole lot of time to read for pleasure. When I had a week to read during my vacation this summer, I did manage to catch up slightly. First I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, which I loved. I also read The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Mind you, I don’t read anything because it’s an Oprah Book Club book (the thought sickens me to the core), but I did first hear it mentioned when my wife Donna was watching Oprah a while back. I tend to sit by on the computer while she watches TV. It’s an unfortunate feature of my brain that I can’t not pay at least a little attention to the tube when it’s on. So I heard about the book and the premise seemed interesting. I’m big on post-apocalyptic stuff, and The Road did not disappoint. It was a very dark and sad tale of a father’s love and perseverence in the face of utter desperation.
Returning from this digression, I actually finished reading Stardust just prior to said vacation, but it had taken me several months to do so. Really that’s a shame when you consider how short the book is. Just before I finished reading it, I saw a preview on TV that looked extremely familiar: an air ship, a fallen star, a unicorn, and Wall. I love when a movie comes out that really gets me excited. When Stargate came out years and years ago, I was just walking by the TV and it captured my attention and riveted me for the remaining 20 seconds. I remember thinking, I have to see this movie. I didn’t quite get this thunderbolt for Stardust, but I did get a nice chill.
I deliberated reviewing the movie here with spoilers, but decided in the end to avoid that. I highly recommend reading the book. One of the things I like about Neil Gaiman is that he takes old ideas, like fairy tales, and makes them new. If you haven’t read his short story “Snow, Glass, Apples” (off of Smoke and Mirrors), you are really missing out. Stardust the movie was good, but there were additions, deletions and modifications that bothered me at first. The fact that Gaiman is an executive producer eased that pain a little, since I can only assume he had a major creative influence in the end product. The main thrust of the book — the central love story — still came through in the movie, which was the important part. Also, the special effects were decent and the pace of the adventure never left me wondering what time it was. So all in all, a very enjoyable movie. If you haven’t seen the movie or read the book, then I suggest starting with the movie if you suffer as I do with modifications.