Bourne & Stardust

[asa left]B000WZAE1I[/asa] I saw two movies this weekend, two very different movies. Stardust, and the Bourne Ultimatum. I don’t know what it says about me that I really liked both these movies, but I did.

[asa right]B000VWYJ86[/asa] Stardust is a classier, less campy The Princess Bride. I’m sure I’m not the first one to say that, because it is the obvious comparison. I really like The Princess Bride, but I love it for its humor and quirky dialog. And for Mandy Patinkin.

“Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!”
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die. “

Stardust is lovingly and carefully told. There are moments of humor — Robert DeNiro provides the best ones, which I won’t give away — but mostly this is the story of a quest. A young man goes into a magical kingdom to retrieve something in order to prove himself to the girl he loves. Or he thinks he loves. There are witches and spells and enchanted princesses, evil kings (a truly fine performance by Peter O’Toole) and even more evil princes, a gallery of ghosts, a flying pirate ship. And that’s before the credits.

No, no. I’m kidding.

All in all, Stardust is a really fine way to spend two hours when you need to be whisked away from your daily work and troubles.

If you are feeling stressed or over burdened, you might want to save Bourne Ultimatum until you’re back on your feet. It takes off at high speed and rarely pauses so you can catch your breath. There is one big problem with the backstory, but they were also clearly setting up another sequel and I’m willing to give them time to straighten that out. This is a firecracker of a movie, perfectly edited. I don’t know what they did differently in the fight scenes, but to me at least they seemed to be on a new level of realism as far as physical punishment. Of course there is all kinds of out-of-this-world weapons play; I’m talking about hand-to-hand confrontations.

I think Matt Damon is a truly gifted actor, better with every movie — although I will say that his performance in All the Pretty Horses was so subtle and still emotive that it will probably always stand out for me. I know a lot of people disliked that movie but I admire it and rewatch it every now and then.

Joan Allen is an excellent and under-valued actor of the first order, so my hope is that if there is a fourth movie — pretty much a foregone conclusion, given the box office bonanza these movies have been — that Joan Allen comes along for the ride.