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Review: Cinderella

Cinderella
03.10.2015
8 10

PLOT:An update of the classic tale of Cinderella who, saddled with an evil stepmother and two wicked stepsisters, manages to win the heart of the heir to the throne and become a princess herself.

REVIEW: You'd be hard-pressed to find a more charming, lovingly-made, winsome (the adjectives could go on and on) live-action Disney fairy tale than Kenneth Branagh's CINDERELLA, which is more or less a perfect adaptation of their 1950 animated feature. With this film Disney has tossed aside many of the cheesy/kitschy tendencies of their recent fantasy updates (Maleficent, Oz the Great and Powerful, Alice in Wonderland) and gone traditional, bringing us a blessedly straight-forward love story that will satisfy those who cherish the animated incarnation and a new generation of moviegoers.

Although, it should be interesting to see what the "new generation" makes of this, a fantasy that is almost completely irony-free. It doesn't wink at the audience, it doesn't have snarky asides or attempt to freshen up the material; it simply is Cinderella, with nary a beat changed or frame out of place. The main character hasn't been toughened up and the text isn't carrying a new feminist angle. Indeed, I can already hear the naysayers claiming Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz took the easy route by choosing to be this harmless, this "safe." But for me, something so effortlessly sweet and lacking in snark is to be appreciated; when almost every modernization of a classic story is done with a satirical edge, it's frankly very heartwarming to witness a completely innocent take on the familiar tale.

You know the story, don't you? Young, beautiful Ella (gracefully played by Lily James) is raised by her two adoring parents (Hayley Atwell, Ben Chaplin) until untimely deaths robs her of them both. Ever the optimist (her mother taught her well), Ella is placed in the "care" of Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), the despicably haughty woman Ella's father shacked up with briefly after the demise of her mother. Tremaine is a vindictive social climber, needlessly cruel to Ella, as are her two snotty daughters (Holliday Grainger and Sophia McShera), who quickly dub Ella "Cinderella" because she's often covered with soot from the fireplace. Despite the torment, Ella makes her own life manageable by tending to her animal friends (the mice and goose are accounted for) and honoring her parents legacy by being kind and grateful.

During a ride in the woods one day, Cinderella meets Kit (Richard Madden) and naturally the two fall instantly in love. She thinks he's an apprentice at the nearby kingdom, when of course he's the heir to the throne, and since his father (Derek Jacobi) is on the way out, Kit needs a wife ASAP. Prodded by the king's handlers to find a lady of royal means that would enhance their kingdom's standing, Kit decides to invite every woman in the land to their upcoming ball in the hopes of seeing that enchanting girl once again. For her part, Ella wants desperately to attend, but is reprimanded by Lady Tremaine, who simply wants one of her daughters to catch the prince's eye so that they'll find financial security once again. Ella is crushed, but a fortuitous meeting with her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) means she can attend the bash after all, in particularly elegant style.

As mentioned before, Weitz's script hits every necessary note; even those who don't think they know the Cinderella story will recognize the iconic hallmarks of the tale. Unlike last year's strange MALEFICENT, which saw Disney undermine one of their coolest villains in order to make her a misunderstood hero, CINDERELLA has been delivered unsullied with modern touches. There are even shots that seem to the untrained eye to be taken directly from the 1950 film, such as the magical moment Cinderella is given a lavish dress by her fairy godmother. It should be noted that much of the film's magic comes courtesy of the technical crew Branagh has assembled: the cinematography is gorgeous, Haris Zambarloukos' frame is always filled with color and and interesting detail. He's aided immeasurably by veteran costume designer Sandy Powell and production designer Dante Ferretti, both of whom could probably outfit this movie in their sleep but have really gone all out to make CINDERELLA as lush as possible.

But it's really Branagh who deserves the lion's share of credit. This is a real director, you see, and one who knows how to tell a story with actors on tangible sets. No offense to the likes of Tim Burton and Sam Raimi, directors I really admire when they get things right, but their Disney efforts were chintzy cartoons, bustling with CG and noticeable greenscreen and containing very little heart. Branagh's film certainly contains plenty of visual effects, but they're not omnipresent; indeed, the film thankfully seems to go out of its way to deal with them at all in favor of real sets with real props. Dare I say everything in CINDERELLA appears to actually be there, not conjured on a computer. You are hereby forgiven for JACK RYAN, sir.

CINDERELLA has been splendidly cast from top to bottom. I've never seen Lily James before, but she's a magnetic screen presence, never failing to uphold that daunting "Disney Princess" title. Madden (who, as a Game of Thrones fan, I've certainly seen before) is an equally compelling Prince, naturally charismatic. I suppose Branagh couldn't have found a better wicked stepmother than Blanchett, who doesn't chew the scenery but ominously nibbles at it, letting her piercing eyes do a ton of the work. Also, it's nice to see her character has not been given some sad-sack backstory in order to make us sympathize with her; Lady Tremaine is just a miserable person and we hate her. The evil stepsisters provide some comic relief, with Grainger and McShera more than up to the task of going over-the-top as couple of bratty buffoons.

I'm sure I'll take some heat for this review, but so be it. CINDERELLA, in all its cheerful glory, is worth it.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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1:08PM on 03/11/2015

Thank god it might be watchable! My girlfriend really wants to see this

After awful mess Disney did on Maleficent (still trying to figure out why they fucked up on the story of one of the scariest Disney villains ever!) I had nothing but doubts about Cinderella in light of Maleficent, Frozen, and in light of all of Disney's recent sugar coated fantasy films which focus more on making it easy for toddlers to watch rather than tell a story with characters every age can be thrilled with. My girlfriend at age 24 loves Cinderella, it's her favorite Disney princess. This
After awful mess Disney did on Maleficent (still trying to figure out why they fucked up on the story of one of the scariest Disney villains ever!) I had nothing but doubts about Cinderella in light of Maleficent, Frozen, and in light of all of Disney's recent sugar coated fantasy films which focus more on making it easy for toddlers to watch rather than tell a story with characters every age can be thrilled with. My girlfriend at age 24 loves Cinderella, it's her favorite Disney princess. This review makes me feel better about taking her to see it. However, the one problem I still see with the film is it stills one of the most cliche, overused, well known fantasy romance stories. I prefer seeing new sides or different re-telling of these classic stories like Snow White & The Huntsmen or Ever After. Did not know Kenneth Branagh directed, which usually tends to be the case with his films, no idea he directed the film you just saw until the end credits. Great actor and a solid director. Branagh was my only reason for seeing Thor. Thrilled to see the Branagh and producers were smart to know the importance of using real sets in this film and not all green screen.
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5:40PM on 03/10/2015

A fine review sir!!

While i always like reimaginings of classic stories (when done right) I agree, keeping the wholesomeness in a wholesome story is refreshing to see. Like you said, Malevolent messed up by not embracing the true nature of the character. Even though Cinderella is a completely opposite character, glad to see the story keeps what makes it great!
While i always like reimaginings of classic stories (when done right) I agree, keeping the wholesomeness in a wholesome story is refreshing to see. Like you said, Malevolent messed up by not embracing the true nature of the character. Even though Cinderella is a completely opposite character, glad to see the story keeps what makes it great!
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4:26PM on 03/10/2015

Cool!

Nice to see someone make a film that honors the source material, instead of deciding he has to prove he's smarter than the source material. Of course I'm not surprised when it's someone of Branagh's caliber.

As an aside, I hate people that call something like this the "safe" approach (not indicting Eric, just following up on his point about others doing it). The real "safe" thing is to play the PC card and make Cinderella a feminist icon, someone who doesn't have to be "saved by a man,"
Nice to see someone make a film that honors the source material, instead of deciding he has to prove he's smarter than the source material. Of course I'm not surprised when it's someone of Branagh's caliber.

As an aside, I hate people that call something like this the "safe" approach (not indicting Eric, just following up on his point about others doing it). The real "safe" thing is to play the PC card and make Cinderella a feminist icon, someone who doesn't have to be "saved by a man," or tries to mitigate the back stories of the bad characters (just to give us depth). Some people are shitty, and it doesn't really matter why they are shitty once they decide to harm others. The safest thing to do in Hollywood today is to follow political correctness and mock the groups that "deserve it" (according to Hollywood). The dangerous thing to do is to appeal to the people who find themselves on the outside of political correctness.
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4:11PM on 03/10/2015
I'm glad to hear it doesn't stray from the original much. The story of Cinderella works best without too much reinvention. And while this might not be Sakespeare, it feels like a return for Branagh.
I'm glad to hear it doesn't stray from the original much. The story of Cinderella works best without too much reinvention. And while this might not be Sakespeare, it feels like a return for Branagh.
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2:08PM on 03/10/2015
" You are hereby forgiven for JACK RYAN, sir. "

Ooh, I sense a potential convict for Movie Jail.
" You are hereby forgiven for JACK RYAN, sir. "

Ooh, I sense a potential convict for Movie Jail.
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4:31PM on 03/10/2015
You know I finally got around to seeing that and actually enjoyed it. I thought they tried too hard to make it cutting edge technology, but I thought Pine did a fine job in the title role, and liked the supporting cast. I really liked the backstory they gave him with his transition from college to soldier, to spy. It made me like his character more than I had in any of the previous versions.
You know I finally got around to seeing that and actually enjoyed it. I thought they tried too hard to make it cutting edge technology, but I thought Pine did a fine job in the title role, and liked the supporting cast. I really liked the backstory they gave him with his transition from college to soldier, to spy. It made me like his character more than I had in any of the previous versions.
1:37PM on 03/10/2015
Good for Branagh. Maybe they could have him make a movie to redeem Maleficent?
Good for Branagh. Maybe they could have him make a movie to redeem Maleficent?
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4:40PM on 03/10/2015
Umm, I think they did with Cinderella. Which so far is getting great reviews.
Umm, I think they did with Cinderella. Which so far is getting great reviews.
7:58PM on 03/10/2015
Like he said, Maleficent is about the most iconic villainess ever. And they messed her up, undermined her, muddled her.. Disney might have redeemed itself somehow with Branag's help now. But they owe Maleficent a new film that treats her magnificent maleficence with the respect she deserves.
Like he said, Maleficent is about the most iconic villainess ever. And they messed her up, undermined her, muddled her.. Disney might have redeemed itself somehow with Branag's help now. But they owe Maleficent a new film that treats her magnificent maleficence with the respect she deserves.
1:18PM on 03/10/2015
what were your thoughts on the Frozen short?
what were your thoughts on the Frozen short?
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12:56PM on 03/10/2015
I don't think it's fair to compare Cinderella to oz or wonderland. Sure, those films used a lot of cgi because they took place in different worlds, whereas Cinderella exists in our world, more or less. It's like comparing avatar to planet of the apes.
I don't think it's fair to compare Cinderella to oz or wonderland. Sure, those films used a lot of cgi because they took place in different worlds, whereas Cinderella exists in our world, more or less. It's like comparing avatar to planet of the apes.
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12:51PM on 03/10/2015
Glad to read the positive and high review. Looks like an enjoyable film.
Glad to read the positive and high review. Looks like an enjoyable film.
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12:42PM on 03/10/2015
I didn't even know ab this till a CPL weeks ago but I'm not the target dem. without a big star, I wonder how it'll do
I didn't even know ab this till a CPL weeks ago but I'm not the target dem. without a big star, I wonder how it'll do
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12:35PM on 03/10/2015
8/10? Much better than I expected. I'm confident Lily James will be a leading lady in many movies to come.
8/10? Much better than I expected. I'm confident Lily James will be a leading lady in many movies to come.
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