In most ways Disney’s live-action adaptation of “Cinderella” is just as charming (and although it’s sacrilege to say, perhaps even more-so) as the 1950’s animated classic. Director Kenneth Branagh has done a wonderful job making this movie beautiful. There’s not one frame that can’t be described as gorgeous.
The story too has received a much-needed and completely magical facelift. We meet Ella’s mother (Hayley Atwell) and see the idyllic childhood that she had, animal friends and all. It gives Ella (Lily James) and the story depth, much like actual lines, a name, and backstory put the prince, Kit (Richard Madden), leaps and bounds ahead of his animated counterpart. The biggest (and saddest) payoff is that we actually see Ella become Cinderella, right down to the incredibly cruel moment where her stepsisters (Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger) and stepmother (Cate Blanchett) bestow the moniker on her.
As wonderful as those additions are, and they really are wonderful, a couple of plot updates fell just a bit short. Although Cate Blanchett is marvelous as the stepmother, her evilness is just a little too evil. It doesn’t match the more practical approach of the rest of the film. There’s a moment where you think she just might explain herself, but alas, her motivations remain vague.
Then there’s Helena Bonham Carter who is fabulous as the fairy godmother, but personally I was baffled by the choice to disguise her as an old woman (a classic choice), but still only have her show up at the moment Ella wants to go to the ball, then disappear the moment she’s finished her magic. It seems contradictory to the empowered update they gave Ella.
Aside from these two rather bizarre missteps, this is a wonderful film. So, I’ll take the movie’s oft-repeated (seriously, they say it a lot) message to heart…
“Have courage and be kind.”
…which isn’t particularly difficult, this movie’s not perfect, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for Disney’s live-action ambitions (Next up: “Beauty and the Beast”). Bring it on Disney!
Posted on March 20, 2015, in Film, Review and tagged Cate Blanchett, Cinderella, Hayley Atwell, Holliday Grainger, Kenneth Branagh, Lily James, Richard Madden, Sophie McShera, Stellan Skarsgard. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.