Directed by Kenneth Branagh.
Starring Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, Helena Bonham Carter, Hayley Atwell, Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Chaplin and Derek Jacobi.
When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.
Lately, there has been a trend to recreate the numerous classic animated Disney films with live-action counterparts (just in the past few years we have had Snow White And The Huntsmen and Maleficent) but the results haven’t really done much to justify their existence. Snow White was all-around generic and forgettable while Maleficent decided to take liberties and rewrite the entire character into a sympathetic villain. Most importantly, both of those films put me to sleep, so admittedly expectations were low heading into this version of Cinderella.
With that said it’s a pleasant surprise that director Kenneth Branagh has managed to take what feels like nothing more than Disney shamelessly looking for ways to rake in some easy extra cash by pumping out new iterations of their most successful and timeless properties, and create a movie that is actually charming. Cinderella is not totally reinvented here, but rather the animated story we are all familiar with told in live action. And while some may say that there is still no point because you could just go watch the animated classic, what makes Cinderella a good movie isn’t its faithfulness to the Disney source material, it’s the magic that comes from watching it.
The set design and production values are incredibly imaginative and bursting with a wide array of colors. Perhaps most interesting however is that the colors aren’t all bright and pretty, but juxtaposed with washed out colors. As an example , the well-known scene where Cinderella‘s Fairy Godmother magically creates the blue dress and glass slippers is infinitely more impressive thanks to how colorless her clothes appear beforehand. There are times where you will just want to ignore the dialogue and just immerse yourself in this fantastical world.
The casting is also spot on with memorable performances from everyone involved. Lily James perfectly embodies the characteristic traits of courage and kindness even when facing cruelty and hopeless odds. It is incredibly easy to sympathize with Cinderella and her struggles but its not solely thanks to Lily James; Cate Blanchett makes for a nasty evil stepmother that you hate just as much as her spoiled, self-absorbed, and dimwitted daughters. Meanwhile, Richard Madden makes for a blue-eyed irresistibly good looking Prince Charming. He and Lily have great chemistry together and share a number of romantic scenes that feel natural.
The few problems with Cinderella stem from the fact that despite being a near two-hour live-action adaptation that actively tries to add a little more depth to its traditional characters, it still feels one-dimensional. Even before the death of Cinderella’s father her stepmother is treating her like the dirt beneath her shoe without reason, forcing her to sleep in the attic. Furthermore, the romance itself between Cinderella and Prince Charming may be well acted and alluring, but again, it doesn’t have much complexity. It is just two attractive people falling for each other.
Cinderella aims to treat audiences with a plethora of CGI visual effects and remarkably excellent aesthetic design, hoping that it and some strong acting are enough to hide a thin narrative. For the most part it works; Cinderella is simply magical and joyous to watch.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook