Movie Review: Cinderella
Cinderella is a tale known to all women; and, although they won’t admit it, all men. Disney’s re-telling of one of their classics lives up to expectations of ambience, characters and personality; however it is lacklustre in other aspects.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh, best known for his critically acclaimed adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry V, Cinderella stars Lily James as Ella and Richard Madden as Prince “Kit” Charming. Join Disney’s most iconic couple in a fantasy kingdom once upon a time, where Ella is the daughter of a merchant trader who marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), the widow of the merchant guild’s master, after Ella’s mother passes on.
However, with his own sudden demise on a trip, Ella is left in the hands of the wicked stepmother and two stepsisters who consider her a servant.
The unusual casting choice of Cinderella is note-worthy for choosing the relatively unknown Lily James and Richard Madden as its two leads; from Downtown Abbey and Game of Thrones respectively (luckily Prince Charming isn’t anything like Game of Thrones’ royalty). And yes, their acting paled in comparison to the veteran supporting cast.
Cate Blanchett as the manipulative and dour stepmother was incredibly intimidating while Helena Bonham Carter’s quirky and frankly “very her” portrayal of the enigmatic godmother was refreshing. Many other side characters are also worth mentioning, like Ben Chaplin’s short but excellent role as Ella’s father, and the fantastically funny cameo of comedian Rob Brydon as the King’s painter.
Cinderella’s saving grace was its script. It could have gotten away with much less but Chris Weitz wrote it a considerable script instead. Witty with its jokes and charming with its banters, it also had surprisingly deep character development for Lady Tremaine and Ella, though only these 2 characters enjoyed such treatment.
The movie stays true to its Disney roots with its aesthetic; visually appealing, bright and saturated in loud colours. However, cinematography and directing left much to be desired as some shots were poorly lit, others poorly framed and the many panning shots left us with eyebrows raised.
The music and audio mixing for Cinderella was great, though we were disappointed at the lack of songs. In fact, the Frozen short aired at the start of the film, Frozen Fever, had more singing in it than the whole of Cinderella.
Cinderella should not be considered a remake of one of Disney’s oldest classics as it doesn’t reinvent the source material much. Instead, it is a re-telling that is generally uninspiring and lacklustre, though it has merits in its script and casting. Check out Into the Woods instead for re-invented fairy-tales.
If you expected anything more, you will be sorely disappointed and left unsatisfied by the lack of some Disney flair. However, it is a charming enough film that tries to impact a contagious optimism and some Disney-esque logical fallacies to its audience, which left us smiling. Plus, its many thinly-veiled sexual innuendos – how un-Disney! – made us chuckle.
Release Date: Mar 12
Runtime: 113 minutes
Censorship Rating: PG
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Main Actors: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter
Photos courtesy of IMDB.