This is a fun movie. First of all, it is based on a Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, and Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I’ve only read a few of his books (American Gods and Good Omens (with Terry Pratchett) immediately come to mind), but Gaiman has the ability to take trite formulas and turn them on their heads in a most entertaining manner. In this instance it is the lost heir, quest, and true love formula. He makes this stuff new and fun. He also uses one device I’ve begun to really enjoy when it shows up in movies — the characters who stand outside the action and comment on what is going on. In this case it is the heirs who have been murdered; they hang around as ghosts, commenting on what the other heirs are doing.
The cast also goes a very long way toward making this movie enjoyable. Charlie Cox (shown in the photo above with Claire Danes) plays the typical dark haired/dark eyed/soulful hero, and does a good job of it. I’ve enjoyed watching Claire Danes since I saw her in “Romeo + Juliet,” and she shines in this role (pardon the pun). In most movie posters you will see Michelle Pfeiffer — yes, she is beautiful, and wicked, and a joy to watch. Robert De Niro is Captain Shakespeare, a man with a secret; he does a great job.
We saw this movie a couple days ago, and I already want to go back and see it again. I read an interview with Neil Gaiman, and he said he was afraid the reaction to this movie would make him hot news in Hollywood — there is a very good chance it will. Go see it. It’s rated PG-13 (I’d take my grandchildren to see it), and I give it a 4.8.