Howdy ladies and gents time for a review I’ve been meaning to get done for almost two weeks! I am of course talking about Cinderella. Now I’ve been intrigued about this film since Kenneth Branagh was attached as director, and since I saw the trailers my curiosity grew and grew. I wasn’t sure if this film would be for me, but after I heard the positive reviews, I knew that this film had to be seen. So I avoided reading many reviews and only got around to seeing the film today. So was it good or not? Well read on and find out.
The story goes like this:
“A girl named Ella (Cinderella) has the purest heart living in a cruel world filled with evil stepsisters and an evil stepmother out to ruin Ella’s life. Ella comes one with her pure heart when she meets the prince and dances her way to a better life with glass shoes and a little help from her fairy godmother of course”
I thought the story was very well done. While I wasn’t sure if I would like this film, I knew if anyone would make this film interesting it would be Kenneth Branagh, I liked his work on Thor and while Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was less than stellar, Branagh brings the right sense of wonder, magic and humour to this film and I noticed some similarities to Thor when it came to the focus on characters and themes of family and succeeding in the face of adversity. There is also a lot of heart to be found in this film, there are some fairly unsettling and tragic moments in this film, they are short, but they are apparent and in addition to that there’s moments of joy and awe, and they are handled well. Another thing that stood out was how the director and writers handled death, it is a key element of the story and it is done with such care and attention and isn’t overplayed, it leaves an impact and that’s what mattered. What the film does the best is that it tells the same story you’ve known since childhood, and it hits all the key notes, however, it is changed just enough to be different. There are new elements added to Cinderella, the prince and the step mother’s backstories and more information the world these characters inhabit. These changes are subtle, but rather than taking away from the film, it builds upon the narrative and adds layers. And unlike Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent that really missed the mark and tried to hard to reinvent what was the norm, Cinderella embraces its origins but changes things up in smart and interesting ways.
As for the cast, they were really good. Firstly Lily James as Ella/Cinderella was brilliant. This version of the character isn’t helpless and boring, there are layers to her. From a young age she is taught to be kind and have courage, and you can see that in her throughout the film, Ella is incredibly kind, strong-willed and has a great level of endurance to deal with all of the loss and suffering in her life. You can relate to her and want her to succeed because she is such a positive beacon of light in the darkness around her, and James plays the character really well. Richard Madden as Prince “Kit” Charming was also very good, this character could have easily been as bland as the orignal, but he was fleshed out a lot more with more insight into his life and having a greater focus on his attraction to Ella because of their first encounter. Madden brings a lot of charm, wit and weight to the character and together with James, the two of them have great chemistry and their scenes are some of the most beautiful moments in the entire film. Cate Blanchett was fine as Lady Tremaine, this character had a bit more layers, she wasn’t mean for the sake of it, she had a reason for it. Tremaine was incredibly bitter, mean and unfair and Blanchett did really well with the role, at times she was bit over-the-top, but you could tell she was having fun with the role.
Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother was good too, this character was playful, eccentric, but also logical to. This is standard Carter fare, she’s played quirky characters like this before, but luckily this was one of the better performances where she was genuinely fun and humourous. Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger as Drisella and Anastasia were suitably funny and had good scenes together. Nonso Anozie was really enjoyable as Captain, as Kit’s right hand man her provides moments of humour and advice for Kit. Stellan Skarsgård as The Grand Duke was cool, I wasn’t sure what to expect but his character was a little different and devious and Skarsgård was good in the role. Derek Jacobi as The King was quite nice too and had some good scenes with his son. Hayley Atwell as Cinderella’s Mother was delightful, she was kind, bright and incredibly positive, while Ben Chaplin as Cinderella’s Father was very good, he was light-hearted and lovely man.
When it comes to the presentation it is excellent. Visually the film is beautiful, there is a great sense of awe and wonder created through the wonderful art direction, vivid colour palette and use of CGI for the magic-based sequences. The visual effects were great, so crisp and full of detail and the cinematography was really good especially in the ballroom dance and the escape from the ball sequences. I also have to add that the ballroom dance was beautiful, from the beginning til the end, it was gorgeous, the dance was wonderfully choreographed and had a whimsical charm to it. This film also feels huge in scale thanks to the scenes in the forest, sweeping landscapes, and scenes inside and out of the prince’s castle. I also really liked the costumes, not only for Cinderella’s main dress which was very pretty and detailed, but also for everyone else as it felt like a live action version of the animated version. Oh and the music from Patrick Doyle, SO good! I loved Doyle’s previous collaboration with Branagh on Thor, and here he brings an even higher level of intensity. This film score hits with impact in the action sequences and is so touching in dramatic moments with Ella alone or with her parents or when Ella and Kit were together.
In conclusion Cinderella was a lot better than I expected and I ended up really enjoying it. This film tells the same classic and conventional story, but makes a few subtle and necessary changes for the story to feel fresh, modern and fun. The cast is wonderful, the presentation is great and everything comes together in a satisfying way. As a man at the age of 25, I take pride in saying go out and see this film, it may be aimed at children but l liked it a lot. Things are looking up for Disney’s future live action adaptations.
So have you seen Cinderella and if so what do you make of it? How do you think it compares not only the 1950’s version, but the other live-action Disney films? Please be sure to comment below and I’ll see ya in the next review, laters! 😀