From the first moment I heard of this film I was hesitant in the desire to see it let alone give it a second thought. Pretty much since the garbage fest that was Enchanted I have been very wary of the wave of reinterpretations for classic or beloved characters and stories to some god awful feminist drivel. I thought that this would be another retelling of something that was once awesome to make it some overly hyped tough girl who doesn’t need a man story. A story where the prince is an idiot and Cinderella will slap her sisters around and at the end she would end up being her own woman and tell the prince off. But, I did need another movie to review and I thought this one, if I was right, would be fun to rip into. So how did it turn out?
A young girl named Ella in her early childhood grew up with wealthy parents who gave her unconditional love and inspiration. After her mother’s death, when she is a young adult (played by Lily James) her father eventually marries a woman, Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchet) who lost her husband. She brings her two daughter to the marriage and after Ella’s fathers subsequent death, the new family begin to treat Ella as a servant changing her name to Cinderella as she was prone to sleep in the ashes of the kitchen’s fireplace. The prince (Richard Madden) of the kingdom has requested that all ladies of his kingdom of all walks of life join him for a ball where is supposed to pick a princess before his father’s death. He does this in hopes that the girl he met in the forest and was smitten by right away will show up. That girl was Ella and with the help of her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) she will be able to go to the ball and see the prince again.
Kenneth Branagh is a phenomenal director when he does period films and he uses that skill to great effect here. The film has the fanciful nature of the early Disney animated movies. From the beginning you are caught up in the brightness and fun look of the film. The entire cast is spot on in their roles. It’s interesting to see characters from Downtown Abby and Game of Thrones together. Lily James is pitch perfect as the naïve yet loveable Cinderella and brings her own beauty and charm to enhance the role. This film is definitely a star making performance from her. Madden is also great as the prince charming role and has some great chemistry with James. Cate Blanchet, as usual, is perfect as the evil stepmother. The rest of the cast is rounded out with some great character actors that bring humor and charm to the story, but the one out of place is Helena Bonham Carter. She is the only actor who seems miscast here. She does well but the way she plays her character just doesn’t seem to fit, but it’s a decent enough try.
What Branagh did here respects the original classic Disney film and he should be commended for that. Our overly PC and psycho feminist culture in America ruins what could be great movies and this one could have been yet another disaster. Instead we are treated to a pleasant movie that brings up and encourages themes of chivalry, honesty and the desire to get out of your comfort zone to fulfill a dream while everyone else around you is working against it.
Cinderella is a whimsical, refreshing in its presentation, charming and a call back to what made Disney great in the first place. Innocence, love, honor, standing up for yourself, etc. See this when you get the chance.
3 stars out of 4