This live-action adaptation of Walt Disney’s 1950 animated classic “Cinderella” is simply brilliant.
The renowned fairytale begins with young Cinderella (also known as Ella) frolicking in the fields alongside her beloved mother and father. Suddenly, Ella’s mother is abruptly taken from her and her world is shattered. Through the death of her mother and father and being tortured by her stepfamily, Ella (Lily James) remains charming and innocent. The exhaustive list of Cinderella remakes (let’s try to forget Hillary Duff’s or Brandy Norwood’s flops) made me skeptical if this revival would finally satisfy audiences. In my opinion, it does that and much more.
Cinematics (Plot, Acting, Cinematography, etc.) – 4
From the snow-capped mountain scenery to the elaborate costumes and houses, Disney does not disappoint audiences when it comes to the stunning visual effects. However, Disney lovers voraciously crave the spectacular moment when Cinderella’s destroyed dress evolves into a jaw-dropping beautiful, blue ball gown. So, the question posed was “could that scene be redone?” Rest-assured Disney fans – the dress transformation scene captures the magic found in the classic film as well as sprinkles in a few new elements. In fact, famous costume designer Sandy Powell keeps the magic flowing throughout the film by creating more than nine versions of the famous ball gown.
The casting director certainly had a keen eye for new talent and recruited some prestigious actors/actresses. Among them are Game of Thrones actor Henry Madden (Prince Kit), Lily James (Cinderella) from Downton Abbey, and the stellar, Oscar-winning actress, Cate Blanchett. As to be predicted, Cate Blanchett’s performance as Lady Tremaine far surpasses all of the other characters, and it is my feeling that the director knew that this would happen. In fact, the director uses Blanchett’s acting reputation to build a much-anticipated arrival for Lady Tremaine and her daughters. Upon their arrival the sky slowly grows dimmer. The animals scurry away from the horse drawn carriage. Then, finally, Lady Treamine emerges from the carriage and the camera follows her into the house from behind. Her face is not revealed until she steps into the foyer and glances in the direction of Cinderella. Not bad for an introduction.
Throughout the movie Blanchett wickedly steals the show with her grandiose laugh, evil grin, and snarky glares. While it is clear that the stepmother is an evil woman, there are moments when Lady Tremaine stares at Cinderella with glassy, teary-filled eyes, and it is not clear if Blanchett’s character feels some amount of guilt or feels tremendously sorry for herself. Yet, it is this type of ambiguity that keeps the audience interested and intrigued.
Entertainment Value – 3
Perhaps my bias toward the classic animated version of “Cinderella” is finally going to seep through in these next few statements. For me, this version just doesn’t have the same impact. First off, I couldn’t have a singing competition with kindergartners like I could in the original film (yeah Ashley from the swing sets…I’m talking about you). Disney movies are known for their memorable, lovable songs that have gone on to win Academy Awards. But I won’t knock the film completely for not having that aspect.
The film kept me engaged with stunning visual effects, spectacular acting, and a cute leading man. Despite all of these positive aspects of the movie, I kept asking myself “What was missing?” I searched my mind far and wide and realized that I needed to take a different approach to solving this riddle. I decided to use my feelings to answer this question. What is missing from this movie is that it doesn’t evoke the same depth of emotions you get when you see the animated classic for the first time: the sorrow from Cinderella’s father’s death, the fury involving the stepsisters tearing her dress, and the wonderment created by the majestic ball gown. However, when you think there is no way to encompass the classic movie’s emotional range, the last moments show Cinderella’s true courage as she unveils to the Prince that she is a servant and, without hesitation, the Prince joyfully embraces her. Bravo, Disney!
Rewatchability – 2
So, does this movie exceed our expectation for a live-action version of Cinderella? Yes. Is this version better than the animated classic? No. While we desperately try to get our children to embrace other films so that they don’t completely burn out Frozen on DVD, I just don’t think this movie will be grabbed for as quickly as the original animated film or other Disney movies. However, we shouldn’t become too upset about this. Disney is gradually improving their revivals of classic films and it shows promise.
- Entertainment Value
This film is striking, creative, and fulfills most of the Disney fans expectations. It won’t ever show as much versatility as the original classic, but audiences should appreciate that Disney is trying to show us that they can produce a close second favorite. Perhaps in the future we can see a perfect revival of a Disney classic and start to think that dreams really do come true. Until then, Hakuna Matata!