Directed by Kenneth Branagh
My Rating: 5 Stars
Rotten Tomatoes: 84%
MPAA Rating: PG (for mild thematic elements)
Cast: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, Stellan Skarsgard, Derek Jacobi, Hayley Atwell
When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Never one to give up hope, Ella's fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.
I assumed from the trailer that I would enjoy this movie; I didn’t know if Disney would try to reinvent the story or do something crazy, but I expected it to at least be well produced.
And it was wonderful.
I love that Disney just took the story of the animated version and made it into a live action movie. No extra bells and whistles. No weird offshoot sub plots. Just Cinderella. No music, alas, (although “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and “Bibiddi Bobbidi Boo” can be heard during the credits from the actresses playing those respective parts) but the same story many of us watched growing up, only with real, quite gorgeous humans. And of course, plenty of magic.
The story, of course, is quite simple. Kind-hearted Ella loses her real parents and gains a horrible woman for a step-mother (played strikingly and cleverly by Cate Blanchett, who can do no wrong). She happens to meet the Prince while she is out riding, and he, after their meeting cannot get her out of his mind. He invites all the maidens in the land to a ball where he must choose a bride. Ella desperately wants to go, but her stepmother forbids it. Fortunately, she has a fairy godmother (a kooky and yet magical Helena Bonham Carter) to help her out, and Ella is indeed the belle of the ball. At least, until midnight. The magic is over and Ella runs from the ball, but leaves a glass slipper behind. The prince searches high and low for her, for the maiden who wore the glass slippers.
I was quite thrilled with all of the casting. Though it is a simple story, the actors did quite well: Lily James was adorable, kind, and believable as Ella, Cate Blanchett made you think twice about immediately hating the step-mother, creating a complex woman, though her wickedness was just as fun to hate as ever. Helena Bonham Carter was odd and yet likable as the fairy godmother. And of course, Richard Madden as Prince Charming (I believe his name was Kit?) made all the female hearts skip a beat with that smile and those blue eyes.
The costumes were gorgeous; Over the top? Probably. A little ridiculous? Maybe so. But beautiful nonetheless and so fun. The sets were gorgeous as well. My ONLY complaint was Ella’s dress transformation scene. It was kind of awkward and too long. But literally, that’s the only thing I didn’t like about the movie. The rest of it was exactly as it should have been.
On a side note, the short before this movie was “Frozen Fever”, a quick song about Anna’s birthday that is being thrown by Elsa and Kristoff. It was cute, though they relied heavily on jokes and scenes from the movie that probably thrilled the kids in the audience, but made me roll my eyes a little. Ultimately a sweet short, but I was hoping for something more. Hopefully I’ll get it in Frozen 2.