A magical fairytale, for adults as much as for children, 'Stardust' combines imaginative writing, superb acting and great locations to produce a stunning visual treat that compels you to engage with its characters, leaving you hooked from the off.

In the sleepy village of Wall the residents go about their everyday business, happily living in the bubble created by the wall surrounding their small townsland, staunchly protected by an elderly local guard (Kelly). But there's always one who becomes too curious for his own good and the young Tristan (Cox) wasn't taking no for an answer when the guard warned him of the dangers of going over the wall. He wasn't lying, for on the other side of the wall lay Stormhold, a magical town, where nothing was as it seemed and wizardry was the order of the day.

The purpose for Tristan's trip was a noble one. He was in love with the village beauty Victoria (Miller) and wanted to prove his devotion to her by retrieving a falling star and presenting it to her as a birthday gift. The only problem was that he had never before seen a falling star and certainly wasn't banking on it taking the form of a radiant young woman, named Yvaine (Danes). But seeking her out wasn't really the challenge here. Getting her home to Wall in one piece was going to prove difficult when Tristan realised that she was a wanted woman.

Witch Lamia (Pfeiffer) was on a quest to chop Yvaine's beating heart out and use it a source of eternal youth for her and her evil sisters Empusa (Alexander) and Mormo (Scanlan), and she was prepared to use every trick in the witch's handbook to get what she wanted, with great comic results. Also on the trail of Yvaine were three princes, Septimus (Strong), Primus (Flemyng) and Tertius (Heap) - aided by the ghosts of siblings deceased - each seeking to become king following the death of their father (O'Toole). But in order to become king they needed to retrieve the trinket that hung around star Yvaine's neck.

Cue madcap chases across some breathtaking scenery (wonderfully shot from above) and plenty of hairy encounters with all kinds of weird and wonderful characters, including the crafty Ditchwater Sal (Hill) and the hilarious bartering rogue Ferdy the Fence (Gervais). But the best adventure comes in the form of the pair's meeting with the pirates of the sky, aboard Captain Shakespeare's (De Niro) air-ship. De Niro camps it up as the macho captain with a secret fancy for frills, in what is a perfect comedy performance, that will have you in fits, proving that his versatility in such roles is endless. 

'Stardust' appeals on so many levels, cleverly layered for its audience, which should stretch across the generations - although undoubtedly peppered with more adult humour than most of its counterparts and more than proving that fairytales are not just for the kiddies. The script is fantastic, combining non-stop humour with genuine emotion and delving into the mythical in a charming manner. Boasting a star-studded cast, the acting here doesn't disappoint either, with more than just the falling star shining - but Pfeiffer and De Niro deserve extra plaudits for their imaginative telling of their character's far-fetched stories, really bringing to life the world we have been asked to buy into.

If you've always had a soft spot for the magical, like a good love story, are obsessed with sorcery and myths or just enjoy a good story well-told then don't miss this genius comic treat on the big screen, for full impact. It shines as brightly as it promises.

Linda McGee