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  • Neil Gaiman's Stardust

    I...didn't know until recently, possibly old news. But...a movie!

    http://www.fandango.com/stardust_76912/movietimes?date=


    This really excites me beyond most of the movies that are coming out this summer. I loved this book, and think it's underrated as compared to most of his. The book was a lot less dark than his usual, which may be why it's not touted as highly. I hope they do a good job with the movie. It looks kinda campy/cheesy, but not bad. What do you guys think?
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  • #2
    This is THE movie I'm waiting for this season. I love the book too, it's a rather simple and direct tale that knows what it wants to do and entertains warmly along the way. Yeah, not as dark as American Gods, but it has it's creepy bits and they work well. Kind of like Anansi Boys. Anyway, it's a great romantic tale.

    The movie will look a lot of things, as the marketing department has no idea what to do with it. You're seeing a lot of DeNiro like he's a major character but he's a bit part. Most of the advance word from people at early cut screenings (Harry @ AICN, Neil himself) say it as faithful to the spirit of the book as a movie can get. It's a romantic fairy tale, and the trailers make it look adventurey, comedy, and it has all that, but it's not the gist. I hope it's not the gist.

    I'm hoping this has a lot of the spirit that made The Princess Bride such a classic. It looks like it could.

    Done rambling.
    Radhil Trebors
    Persona Under Construction

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    • #3
      I saw the film at a special press screening that was arranged for my editor at Starlog and myself a few weeks ago, and so far, itÆs far and away my favorite film of the summer. The sad thing is, as Radhil quite rightly points out, the Paramount marketing people do not have a clue about what to do with this film and the trailers are nowhere near successful in terms of capturing the spirit of the film. Charlie Cox for example, who plays Tristan (not Tristran as itÆs spelled in the book) is superb, and yet to watch the trailers, heÆs practically invisible. I was lucky enough to see several big chunks of the film while I was interviewing director Matthew Vaughn back in January and IÆve been talking it up ever since, but if Stardust succeeds, it will only be by word of mouth, not from ParamountÆs grossly off-track marketing strategy.

      IÆve had a number of people recently ask me, if youÆre a fan of the original Gaiman/Vess illustrated novel, will you be disappointed by the film? Definitely not. There are quite a number of changes, but with one small exception which I wonÆt spoil here, none of them bothered me at all. In fact, Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman have added even more texture to the original material, such as the feuding princes, who have a greater (and much funnier) presence in the film. They also managed to plug up a big story hole concerning TristanÆs mother, which always bugged me in the original story.

      Radhil, I have to take exception with one point, which is that De NiroÆs Captain Shakespeare has a æbit part.Æ His role is actually quite substantial, and may be one of the changes that really divides up the die-hard fans. As readers of the book will recall, Tristran and Yvaine are picked up by the sky ship and basically carried to another location where theyÆre dropped off, all in the course of a page or two. In the film, theyÆre picked up by Captain Shakespeare and his crew, who sail the skies collecting lightning, which they then barter for supplies. At that point, just about an entire act has been added, involving Tristan, Yvaine, the Captain and his crew. Again, I donÆt want to spoil things, but if you read Harry KnowlesÆ AinÆt it Cool News review, he basically gives away the major spoiler regarding the captain. As I say, die-hard fans will either love it or hate it; my editor thought that section was great, although IÆm still a bit on the fence about it.

      Regarding the differences between the book and film versions, Gaiman himself recently told me he considers it the difference between the æEarth IÆ and æEarth IIÆ versions of Stardust (a reference to DC Comics continuity); they both happily exist simultaneously, and fans can enjoy both if they want to.

      If you folks will indulge me in a self-serving plug here, I suggest you look for the next issue of Starlog, which will feature a special Stardust section, featuring interviews with Vaughn, Cox and artist Charles Vess who illustrated the original novel (our Gaiman interview, which was set up too late, will hopefully be in the following issue). I think the section is going to look fantastic, featuring some brand-new Stardust art that Charles provided, which I think will be seen in this issue for the very first time. That includes a brand new giant spread of the Faerie Market that has to be seen to be believed. And weÆll hopefully be running a shot of CharlesÆs first illustration for the Stardust sequel, which Neil tells me will be called Hellflyer. Please make sure you pick up a copy of that issue, because my publisher is going out on a limb by devoting so much space to this film not knowing if it will be a hit or not, but I promise it will be worth it.

      I apologize for running on a bit here, but as I say, I canÆt recommend this movie enough, and since Paramount isnÆt doing a great job of promoting it, the fans will really have to pick up the slack and spread the word.

      And Radhil, your reference to Princess Bride is spot-on. According to Matthew Vaughn, it was absolutely a major inspiration for this film, although heÆs not really allowed to say so. Apparently the studio was quick to point out that Princess Bride wasnÆt a box-office success and have been playing down the comparisons. But when you see the film, theyÆre very obvious, I promise.

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      • #4
        Thanks, Joe. Your input means a lot, and we're always glad to have you ramble. I must say, you've got me a lot more pumped up about this now than when i was just happening to find it. The preview didn't really do much for me, like you guys have been saying, doesn't seem to get the feel right. But if the overall movie has it, that's great. I was a big fan of Mirrormask, so I have high expectations.

        A Neverwhere movie on the horizon, mayhaps?
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        • #5
          Thanks for the backup (or full-fill-up, as it were ), Joe.

          Kinda half-skimmed most of the advance reviews, as I don't want to ruin too much of a good thing, so I hadn't really caught on that the skyship scene is more than the gloss-over it was in the book. A lot of things were gloss over in the book, actually, but that was part of the amusement of it. I haven't seen the graphic novel, maybe that changes. Rambling now. Anyway, thank you for setting me straight on DeNiro.

          It was Tristran in the books? Funny, my mind made it Tristan long ago.

          I'll keep an eye out for the Starlog stuff. I also had no idea Neil was doing a sequel to Stardust, so that's extra incentive.

          Smile, Neverwhere actually was a BBC miniseries at one point. Not sure how well it came out - actually not even sure which was first, the show or the novel. I know there's a graphic novel of Neverwhere and for some reason it put me off immensely within minutes of opening it, even though I thought the book was great. I should find the Stardust GN and see if it's in the same way.
          Radhil Trebors
          Persona Under Construction

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          • #6
            The Tristan/Tristran thing caused us a few headaches in terms of covering the film, because we were never 100% sure how it was spelled. Turns out that Matthew Vaughn had misspelled it in a draft of the script and got carried over. Or as Neil Gaiman points out, itÆs the difference between the Earth I version and the Earth II version.

            Regarding a sequel to Stardust, it will be interesting to see what happens. Neil could write the Earth I version, i.e. in print, which could either be Hellflyer, or he could go back and write Wall first, which was going to be the original pre-Stardust novel. But Matthew Vaughn told me he already had ideas for film (i.e. Earth II) sequels, which may not necessarily have anything to do with the Gaiman ideas. I just hope the film is wildly successful so we get ANY sequels.

            Regarding Neverwhere, the mini-series came first, followed by the novelization, and more recently the comic book version published by DC. The original TV scripts were simply magnificent; my wife worked as makeup designer on the mini-series and I covered the entire project from day one for a possible making-of book, but when the first season bombed, the BBC decided not to go forward with anything else, including a behind the scenes book. Someday IÆll write it anyway just for the hell of it, so everybody can hear what it was really like, but basically, NeilÆs scripts were simply too good for what the BBC could do at the time, with a comedy director who really had no great connection to the material. Plus the Beeb, in their infinite lack of wisdom, decided to save a few bucks by shooting it on tape instead of film, which cost them a lot of potential overseas sales. The shooting schedule was far too ambitious, which meant that every single day, another scene or two would drop off the end, which usually meant they got lost forever, which is why the novel is so much richer than the series. Poor Neil got so disgusted that he used to mutter, æThatÆs okay, IÆll just put it back in the novel!Æ but having said it so many times within the directorÆs earshot, he eventually got thrown off the set. So while there are lots of wonderful bits in the TV version, itÆs really a shadow of what it could have been.

            Although I believe there were a number of attempts at a Neverwhere movie, a lot of directors were connected at various points, only to drop out. Neil wrote a huge number of drafts before moving on to other things, but IÆve always had this fantasy in the back of my head, of a Neverwhere movie directed by Tim Burton. Of course it will never happen, but maybe if the Stardust movie is a success, Hollywood will start looking around for another Neil Gaiman property and theyÆll dig up one of those screenplays.

            By the way, hereÆs an interesting piece of Neverwhere trivia. The part of the Marquis was originally written for Richard OÆBrien of Rocky Horror fame, but was ultimately played by Paterson Joseph, a brilliant British actor who happens to be black. Although I couldnÆt see anybody but OÆBrien in my mindÆs eye when I was reading the original scripts, I now canÆt picture anybody other than Paterson, whoÆs a great actor and still a friend years later. But if you get a chance to go back and look at the novel, see how long it takes to figure out if Neil is writing the Marquis as a white character or a black character. And no fair looking at the comic book series, which really has little visual resemblance to either version.

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            • #7
              But if you get a chance to go back and look at the novel, see how long it takes to figure out if Neil is writing the Marquis as a white character or a black character.
              That's easy, for me. By the time the Marquis de Carabas had taken his leave with Door, I had a picture of Carl Lumbly of Alias fame, strutting around like he owned the world with a predator grin.

              I remember going back and trying to figure out if I had the image right, and realizing it had been a bit fast and ambiguous with the description. Flipping through my copy now. It does say white eyes, white teeth, dark face, that's it. You could say just from that, but the manner of the Marquis was what sold me.

              For the on-topic sentence: I'll do my part to get the movie success. My family will be dragged. Friends will be told. Boards will be spammed.

              I like getting excited over a movie like this. It doesn't happen near often enough.
              Radhil Trebors
              Persona Under Construction

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              • #8
                I'm eagerly awaiting Stardust as well. I'm about 85% of the way through the audiobook (read by Mr. Gaiman himself) and am really enjoying it. I've been reading Neil's journal at http://www.neilgaiman.com for several years and seeing how well received the previews have been really has my hopes up. I can't say that I've seen ANY of the Paramount promos, but it's obvious from Neil's comments that they are all over the map and that few of them represent the film very well.

                Still, a well reviewed fantasy movie coming out a couple of months after Harry Potter should do pretty well at the box office, especially with a cast that includes DeNiro, Pfeiffer, and Danes (and Charlie Cox )

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                • #9
                  It's strange, I went back and looked at one of the trailers to see what it was that bugged me so much and I think it's actually the tone that is being badly misrepresented. As anybody who has read the original book knows, the early relationship between Tristran and Yvaine is- ahem- strained to say the least, not surprising, because he wants to take her back to Wall as a gift to Victoria, and she's not happy at getting knocked out of the sky and dragged along by this idiot. In the film, that attitude is clearly presented the same way in their first meeting, but the trailer picks out a singe shot from that scene, which makes it appear that Yvaine is smiling and happy about their conversation, when in fact she's cleared pissed at him. It's that kind of misrepresentation that sort of annoys me.

                  And Wize, the rest of the cast is superb as well, from Peter O'Toole who has a brief but memorable scene as the dying king of Stormhold, to Jason Flemyng and Mark Strong who play the last surviving brothers, to David (Waking Ned Devine) as the wall's aging guard, to Mark Williams as Billy the Goat- it's a long story, but if you've read the book, you probably know what I'm talking about. I know the trailers have been hyping Ricky Gervais way too much, and he's in three scenes, but frankly, I can usually only take Gervais in small doses.

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                  • #10
                    Sorry, that should have been David Kelly, but you all knew that, didn't you?

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                    • #11
                      cloudworld

                      has anyone noticed that the airship bits in the stardust movie trailer (esp the crashing on the water part) are very very similar to an english fantasy novel called cloudworld that came out early last year? does the airship stuff figure as much in the original book??

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                      • #12
                        The airship figured a scant two pages in the book, but it was a very needed solution to a very sticky situation (said situation itself being a very desperate solution to an even freakier and dramatic situation, as befitting a good yarn, and I'm obviously tap-dancing around spoilers), so I can see why it'd be something they play up and expand on.

                        If you're thinking it's borrowed... well, being Neil, it probably is in homage to something. Usually his sources are much older than, oh, the last decade or so. Brooks has been on an airship fetish for about six novels now and he would've been the first I thought of, and I still wouldn't think that's where Neil got it.
                        Radhil Trebors
                        Persona Under Construction

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                        • #13
                          Knowing Neil, his influences go much deeper and even further back. I wouldn't be at all surprised if he remembered a drawing from say, Little Nemo in Slumberland going back a century ago.

                          That being said, I believe it was probably Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman who were responsible for taking those couple of pages from the book- which basically take the characters from point A to point B- and made them a much more important part of the film. Whether or not you like De Niro's character, which will doubtless be a source of much debate in the coming months, the ship scenes are actually used to transform Tristan from a zero to a hero, giving him a more adult look and teaching him some of the skills he needs (although frankly, the amount of sword-fighting in the film is much less than the trailers would have you think- they seem to want us to think he's become D'Artagnon (sp?) when in fact there only a couple of scenes).

                          Personally, I still love the image from the book, of giant sky ships docking alongside even bigger trees.

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                          • #14
                            cloudworld (again)

                            fair dos. still, you should read the book. it's a bit description-heavy at the start, but it's set in a really interesting world divided by a permanent cloudlayer. above the clouds it's a kind of sunlit roman world with leonard davinci style retro-technology and below its a gloomy pictish world. the twist is that the creatures below the world scavenge debris fallen from above and make a religion around it.

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                            • #15
                              I just got a copy of the new hardcover reissue a little while ago, and it's absolutely gorgeous. In addition to the original illustrated story, it's also got about 40 pages of extras, including the original story proposal and tons of artwork. If you're somebody who really loves books, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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