I love Disney. In case that wasn’t clear already (almost all of my reviews for Disney films on this site have been extremely positive). Having said that, Cinderella was never one of my favourites from the studio’s catalogue. I simply just never found interesting and would often find myself bored when watching it as a kid. It’s got good elements to be sure, such as fun side characters and spectacular animation, but overall it’s a film that I’m not the biggest fan of. When I heard that Disney was going to release a live action remake, my interest was nonexistent. Having said that, my interest sparked ever so slightly when I began hearing nothing but good things about the film from critics, as well as the news that there would be a Frozen short film at the beginning. So I ended up seeing the film to see if it could either live up to the praise, or bore me to tears. So which one was it? Well, in some ways it was both.
Let me explain. First and for most, this is a direct retelling of the classic 1950 film with little to no changes made to the story. They make a few attempts to shake things up, such as Cinderella and the Prince meeting before the ball, and some of the characters given more backstory, but overall, it’s a very by-the-book adaptation. This is probably my biggest grip with the film. There were many times where I was sitting there just waiting for certain plot points and events to occur just so that the plot would move along already. Having said that, the simplicity is perhaps part of this film’s charm. It doesn’t try to complicate things too much, or make drastic changes to the source material that lack payoff. (Take notes, Maleficent) Instead we are given a sweet little story that we may have all heard before, but it’s presented in a way that was tasteful enough to keep my attention. It’s still a flawed story, but I’d be lying if I said I left the theatre without a warm fuzzy feeling inside. The cinematography is quite impressive, as well as the costumes and sets. (I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie was nominated for an oscar for best costume design) It’s not the most beautiful looking film I’ve ever seen or anything, but it certainly is lovely to look at.
The characters come off as pretty static, but the truth is that’s how they were in the original too, so I was somewhat expecting it. Cinderella herself (played by Lily James) is certainly not that interesting, however her kindness and hopeful nature does make her a bit endearing, So can’t go far enough to say I hated the character. the prince is pretty silly though. I guess you could say this is technically an improvement over how he was portrayed in the original (If I remember correctly, The Prince (Richard Madden) only has one line of dialogue in the animated film, and that line is “Wait!”) But he’s still only about as interesting as my socks. Him and Cinderella do share more time together onscreen than they did in the original, but it’s still the typical formulaic “love at first site”deal. The Fairy Godmother is pretty well handled, but she’s not on screen enough to really analyze her character. Cinderella’s nasty Stepsisters are pretty one dimensional as well, serving as bullies for Cinderella and little else. The evil Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) fares better, providing us with the same despicable character that we all know, but with a bit more depth concerning her backstory. Truthfully, I think that the villains in the original animated film packed a bit more of a punch when it came to their actions (The dress tearing scene was nowhere near as heartbreaking in this film as it was in the original) but it was still nice to see some development in their characters (specifically the Stepmother) for this adaptation.
What we have here is an adaptation that’s technically done very well, but what’s really going to make or break this film is you’re opinion on Cinderella story in general. Personally, I put this movie about on pretty much the same level as the original film. There’s elements of both that I like, but the story itself isn’t particularly my cup of tea. Having said that, I still thought the movie was undeniably sweet and good hearted, much like Cinderella herself. It’s a decent film that I think does the best with what it had, and that’s enough to gain a positive review out of me.
(P.S The Frozen short film, “Frozen Fever” Was cute. But I would’ve preferred if it was a little longer.)