After teleporting away with the Babylon candle, Tristan and Yvaine end up on a cloud. No, really. They're standing on clouds. Look, I know this is a magical fairytail land where falling stars are people, but people can stand on clouds now? What, did Yvaine not hit any on her way down?
They're here because Yvaine's home and Tristan's home are in two rather different places, so the candle dropped them half-way. And they're out of candle.
They bicker for a while, each trying to one-up the other on my annoyance meter. They are quickly snatched off of the cloud by a nearby airship. By which I mean a literal boat with a Zepplin strapped to it. So now we're in Final Fantasy.
If the clouds are solid enough to support a human's weight, how does the airship pass through them? Oh, don't worry about things making sense, fantasy writers; just tell the audience to shut off their brains.
So, the pair find themselves tied together and thrown into the ship's hold. Naturally, they argue. Because it's romantic or something. However, something really odd happens, something that is probably part of the reason for the better reviews for this movie.
The conversation plays out as follows:
Yvaine: Tell me about Victoria, then.
Tristan: Well, she... she... There's nothing more to tell you.
Yvaine: The little I know about love is that it's unconditional. It's not something you can buy.
Tristan: Hang on! This wasn't about me buying her love. This was a way for me to prove to her how I felt.
Yvaine: Ah... And what's she doing to prove how she feels about you?
Tristan: Well... Look, Yvaine, you'll understand when you meet her, all right?
At no time does The Princess and the Frog have a conversation even remotely like this. See, in that movie, a good
movie, the writers aren't trying to subvert anything. They're not trying to, within the context of the story itself, contrast a good romance with a stock, cliché, immature romance such as the one between Tristan and Victoria.
Stardust is desperately trying to contrast bad romance with good romance, the difference between idolizing a woman and actually loving her. The Princess and the Frog isn't trying to make an explicit contrast about relationships; they're simply presenting a good, solid, mature romance between two actual characters. If you as the viewer choose to use this as a bludgeon or argument against bad romances in fiction, that's your choice. The Princess and the Frog isn't explicitly
trying to make that contrast; Stardust is.
Making this explicit contrast requires two things. First, you must present a stock, cliché, immature romance. That's fine, but that means you have now damaged your movie by introducing a stock, cliché, immature romance. You're spending precious screentime on something that makes the audience's eyes roll.
This is magnified by the actual nature of this relationship. It isn't just a stock, cliché, immature romance; they decided to make it hurt that much more by making Victoria an absolute whore. See, if she weren't stringing Tristan along, she would simply be the object of his affection. And while her being entirely indifferent to Tristan's affections make Tristan seem that much more pathetic, that can still be resolved within the context of the movie. Unrequited love is a constant, even in reality. But no; they have to make Victoria into a villian-esque character.
This undermines part of the point of this scene, and therefore the entire movie. See, if Tristan is not wholly responsible for his relationship with Victoria, then it's not really about immaturity on his
part. Victoria bears some responsibility here for leading him on. She didn't tell him in jest to go get the falling star and she'd marry him. She's 100% serious about that (at least, she seems to be): if Tristan gets the falling star, she'll marry him.
Tristan is thus the tool of a manipulative bitch, not the immature brat trying to get someone who can't be bothered with him. This breaks the moral of the movie.
The other thing you have to do is present a mature, fulfilling romance. I'll discuss this more when we get to that part.
After Tristan starts to realize that Victoria may not actually be worth a damn, someone walks into the ship's hold. And the pair are confronted by...
No. No, it can't be. It's not possible. They can't be doing this. He can't have needed money this
badly. And now he's in this movie. Being in this film means that he'll be reading dialog that will make me hate him, and I really don't want to do that. Why did it have to be...
...they are confronted by Robert De Niro
De Niro's character starts raving and threatening them. But it's a very strange scene. He speaks one line fairly softly, but then says something belligerent loudly, after which his crew (listening at the door) howls in approval. It's pretty obvious that he's being nasty for the sake of his crew, but at the time I couldn't figure out why. The reason... God, I hate this movie... we'll find out a bit later.
In any case, De Niro's character, named Shakespeare
(I had a deep and abiding fear that he would cross over to England and become the actual Shakespeare. Thankfully, this does not occur) throws a manikin out of the ship, pretending it is Tristan. Oh, how I wish it actually were. He makes a spectacle of taking Yvaine back to his cabin to presumably rape her for the next few hours.
No, as I said, it's all an act and Tristan is fine. He says that he'll pretend Tristan is a nephew, and that he'll give them passage as close to the Wall as he can get. After all, Tristan is still trying to take his slave to his girlfriend, despite his recent little introspective moment.
Speaking of which, why the hell doesn't she do anything at this point? She's not tied up anymore. She seems to be willingly going along, and there's no reason for it. The candle's gone, so he can't bribe her with passage back into the sky. And Shakespeare seems the decent sort; if she wanted, she could probably get him to protect her. But no, our doormat doesn't do anything
to escape from the douchebag; after all, that would derail the love story.
As for Shakespeare, we now get the reason for him putting up this act for the crew. He wants to have a fearsome reputation, because his father had a fearsome reputation. So he has to act like a ferocious killer in front of other people, even though he's not.
Um, why? He's not a pirate; the ship farms lightning, which they then sell to people. The closest thing to a reason for why he might need
a reputation is a one-off line that suggests that farming lightning is illegal, but that's about it. Other than that, there is no
reason to need to cultivate such an image.
And what exactly is he hiding with this reputation? Apparently, he's a cross-dresser. He may also be gay; it's rather unclear. What is very
evident is that we get to see Robert De Niro in a dress.