Starring: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgård, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi
Directed By: Kenneth Branagh
Written By: Chris Weitz
Rating: PG (US) Running Time: 1 hr 52 min
To be honest, the idea of yet another live action fairy tale in our theaters didn’t thrill me. Especially a retelling of the Cinderella story. But that’s likely because I’m a 40 something bloke, and not a twee girl who dreams of being a princess. Clearly this movie’s target audience. Which became all too clear as I took my seat in a crowded theater, surrounded by an assortment of miniature versions of every Disney princess you could think of. And I must admit, it was kinda sweet watching parents treat their tiara clad costumed kids to a trip the movies. It added a little extra magic to the proceedings.
We all know the Cinderella story, right? Girl loses parents, gets treated badly by her wicked stepmother and step sisters, but manages to get the help of her fairy godmother, go to the ball, and snag the heart of the prince. It’s a centuries old folk tale, and Kenneth Branagh’s modern retelling doesn’t stray from the established Disney version of that story. Actually sticking pretty closely to the Perrault version from 1697, with only the occasional nod to the Brothers Grimm interpretation of 1812. I doubt parents would be too thrilled with Disney if the step sisters started chopping off parts of their feet to get the glass slipper to fit!
At the heart of this mostly successful version of the classic tale, is a very sweet performance by Lily James. She is in every way the modern Disney princess. Beautiful, kind, and charming, but not a complete wallflower, and a solid role model for the film’s young audience. The production design is also first-rate, and Sandy Powell’s costumes are stunning. The film captures and delivers the inherent magic in the story, and the visual effects serve the movie well. My only complaint with Cinderella is due to the writing for Cate Blanchett’s wicked stepmother. Here we have a stupendous award-winning actress in the juiciest role this story has to offer. But we never get a properly developed look into her character, and her impact on the film is sadly wicked-lite.
This film is for anyone who enjoys fairy tales. It sticks to the classic story, and there are no major twists contrived into the proceedings. The movie is rated PG and is suitable for everyone.
Cinderella is a gorgeous looking film, so I suggest you catch this in the theaters. If you wait for the rental, get the HD version to watch on a big TV. This film’s magic will be lost if viewed on a portable screen.
The scene where Cinderella meets her fairy godmother ( Helena Bonham Carter) is great, and ‘the dress’ creation sequence is stunning. Nicely enhanced by Patrick Doyle’s great score too.