Rated 4.0

In Victorian England, a rural village sits next to a wall that separates it from a strange and magical world. When a young man (Charlie Cox) impulsively crosses the wall to fetch a falling star for his sweetheart, he’s drawn into adventures with the star in human form (Claire Danes) and beset by a wicked witch (Michelle Pfeiffer), a sky pirate (Robert De Niro), and various other fantastic figures. Written by Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn (from the novel by Neil Gaiman), the movie begins with a touch of smirking parody à la The Princess Bride, but as the story advances it straightens its face, becoming a likeable charmer with wit and whimsy to spare. It’s like a bedtime story from playful parents, with plot turns that, despite their storybook familiarity, keep us always slightly off balance.