Cinderella: Movie Review

March 12, 2015 0 Comments

There weren’t that many great films to see in 2015. Focus was alright (I’ll probably write about that next), and Kingsman was pretty decent, while other films such as The Lazarus Effect and Fifty Shades of Grey were barely worth mentioning. But perhaps the one good film you could probably watch would be the one that is most familiar to us all, and almost everyone knows about Cinderella.

If there was ever a time to have a classical Disney feature film to make their transition into live action, now would be a good time to make it. And I have to say, it’s every bit as good watching it as an animated film as it is watching real, live breathing human beings playing out their respective roles. Of course, there are a bit of tweaks here and there. Screenwriter Chris Weitz manages to capture the magic and the compassion that made the original well known. Along with cinematography (brought to you by Haris Zambarloukos) and the special effects, it gives the original Cinderella the improvements it deserves.

There isn’t much to tell about the story, because most people have heard this story before. Kind-hearted Cinderella (Lily James) slaves and toils for cruel Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and her wretched stepsisters, Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger), and despite being working hard to please them, Cinderella isn’t treated as a member of the family, but rather a servant. Then one day, the Prince (Richard Madden) decides to throw a Ball and invites the entire Kingdom in an attempt to find a future bride (or Queen).

Cinderella wants to attend the ball but is stopped by her nasty stepmother and sisters. At her lowest low, Cinderella is confronted by her Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), who offers to help Cinderella, but giving her everything she needs to go to the Ball: a new dress, horses, coach, footman, and especially glass slippers). With her new makeover, she attends the ball and completely sweeps the Prince off his feet (although, he should have been the other way around). Only problem is that all of the magic behind the Dress only last until midnight, and Cinderella has to rush home before her true self is discovered. Fortunately, she leaves a clue on how to find her: a glass slipper. With this, the Prince finds Cinderella, they marry and live happily ever after, blah, blah, blah.

The purpose of the review isn’t to really tell the story of Cinderella, but rather to explain why its worth seeing, despite the fact that most people already know the story. In fact, that is one of the best things about the film: it doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel (not like Annie). Director Kenneth Brangh obviously cherishes the original 1950’s classic Disney’s animation of Cinderella and he doesn’t try to change it. As I have before, there are naturally some tweaks here and there, but instead of trying to revamp and out-do the original (like most filmmakers attempt to do), these tweaks enhance the original and build upon the story.

For example, the audience will receive plenty of backstory as to how Cinderella ends up an orphan girl. We learn about her mother and her father, and what lead to their untimely demise, which is pretty tragic and dark, even for a Disney film. These are small tweaks, but very fitting for the purpose of the story.

75

Another decent tweak relates to how Cinderella meets the Prince for the first time. Not at the ball, like the original, but in the woods, while the Prince is hunting a stag on horseback. We even learn that Cinderella name isn’t actually Cinderella, but rather a name that was forced upon her by her evil stepmother and sisters. A very different twist from what people who grew up on the original were use to, but it is very clever.

Another thing I found interesting about the film was the lack of A-list talent, which is probably one of the greatest things about the film. After all, we don’t need self-absorb personality actors ruining timeless classics. With the exception of Cate Blanchett, who ended up being a better Stepmother than I thought she would. She pulls of textbook the villainess role pretty well, while still managing balance being desperate and malicious at the same time, which is apparent in her schemes to match her daughters with the Prince. Even when that fails, she still has evil plans to coerce Cinderella into securing a place for herself and  daughters with titles in the kingdom, in return for providing the only piece of evidence that proves Ella is the ‘mystery Princess’ the Prince is searching for.

Keeping up with the times, the film offers a bit of slapstick humor to the script. Although, at times, it seemed a bit forced, but it was every bit as enjoyable. Rob Brydon provided a good chuckle as the royal portrait artist and the Fairy Godmother was a tad bit crazy (not as crazy as her former Harry Potter roles as Bellatrix Lestrenge), but her performance added to the charm of the film. I also loved the Goose Coachman (Gareth Mason), and his line, “I’m a Goose. I don’t know how to drive this.”

One of the most disappointing things about the film is the fact this film isn’t in 3D. I just don’t get it. I understand that it cost money to provide these films in 3D, as well as in IMAX in general, as these films need to be shot with special cameras that renders 3D. However, you’d figure that a film with so much magic behind it would have it playing in 3D cinemas around the country. I tried to imagine how so many scenes would look if it was shot in 3D instead. The rendering of the animals and their magically transformations, the dance scene, the kingdom at night, the iconic chase scene after midnight, especially the scene where Fairy Godmother changes Ella’s destroyed dress into a brand new work of art.

Final Verdict: A

Overall, the film is very enjoyable with a very familiar story and a very easy formula to follow: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The modern rendition of Cinderella stays true to the original, and at the same time appeals to a broader audience with very good special effects and real life situations that people can relate to. There was no need to have an up-to-date story with Cinderella in the big city, or change the ethnicity of the main characters. It was simple. It’s a good film to watch that people of all ages can enjoy, whether or not the grew up watching the film as children.

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