SRP $29.99 2.35:1(16:9) DOLBY DIGITAL 5.1 PARAMOUNT

Author Neil Gaiman's work is an acquired taste, and this reviewer must admit to never having liked his previous work. "NEVERWHERE," "MIRRORMASK" and other novels were really just too bizarre and inaccessible, however, thankfully, Director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman have done a tremendous job in fleshing out what was good about Gaiman's story, and made it entertaining, fresh, and sometimes brilliant!  The story revolves around a young man(Tristan) and his quest to find a fallen star for the girl he loves(Sienna Miller), but ends up finding a deeper, albeit, more difficult love in the process. Throwing in witches, a star that transforms into a beautiful, sweet girl(Claire Danes) and you've got the formula for the familiar, strange, and ultimately successful drama/fantasy/epic that is "STARDUST."

PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 2.35:1 aspect ratio for dvd(16:9 enhanced) and hd-dvd.  It's a bit disappointing that there's not a commentary here with the director, for him to better explain the "soft" look that he has given the film throughout.  It's definitely frustrating at times, and more-so on the dvd, as colors appear muted at times. The HD-DVD shares the same soft-like filter, however colors are notably brighter in comparison to dvd, but still veers too much in the soft direction. Detail is adequate on dvd, but notably better on HD-DVD(which it "has" to be!) Unfortunately, the softness prevents the title from being reference quality, as there are too few scenes with the "pop off the screen" depth associated with better PARAMOUNT HD-DVD releases.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix provided for the dvd is aggressive, with a fair amount of surround effects kicking in at key moments. The overall fidelity of the HD-DVD is better than the dvd, but neither mix is as well balanced as it deserves to be, with dialogue sometimes overshadowed by a terrific score. As good as the music is, Vaughn relies on it too much to energize the tale unfolding, rather than improving the film's pacing with some needed editing.

PARAMOUNT has provided some extras on both formats, with a "Making of" having the benefit of HD on HD-DVD(of course!) The rest of the extras are only in SD on both formats. Most annoying are the deleted scenes and bloopers, ruined by watermarks covering the center throughout!