by Laure Mack
Cinderella has always been a favorite. I loved the 1950s version when I was a kid, I loved every reimagination of it since and I couldn't help but love this movie too.
[This review includes spoilers.]
It's hard for me to talk about this movie without comparing it to the original, but I'll do my best to save comparisons for the section below.
Visually, Cinderella is quite stunning. Kenneth Branagh did a fabulous job of making it as colorful and dreamy as anyone could've hoped for it to be. I think part of what made this movie as good as it is was that it doesn't seem like it was treated like just another cheesy children's fairytale. It was obviously made with kids in mind and she does live happily-ever-after, but there is some depth to the story. It was almost like a fairytale version of a Shakespeare play. Like real thought was put behind the actions and motivations of everyone.
This movie was also chock full of metaphors. Who doesn't love a good metaphor? The stepmother wore a lot of green. The color of envy, and she couldn't have been more jealous of Ella. The butterflies on the new blue dress and glass slippers symbolize our heroine's metamorphosis from an unappreciated step-daughter and sister to a cherished queen.
I've never been on the Helena Bonham Carter bandwagon. It's not that I ever thought she was a terrible actress, but it seems that, to most people, the woman can do no wrong. Well, after seeing her turn as the Fairy Godmother, I might have to think about buying a ticket to get on that wagon. She was easily my favorite character, and we only saw her for one scene. She was funny (was it possible that the FGM was drunk?) and endearing and I could not get enough.
Lily James and Cate Blanchett also knocked their performances out of the park with enough emotion behind even every glance to stop a truck. Both of these roles seem like they'd be so easy to be over-acted or unbelievable or too campy or just plain too much, but they both pulled it off. Every time Ella's stepmother sneered at her, I believed it and every time Ella forgave her stepmother for being a wretched and jealous monster, I could almost see the wheels turning that brought her to do it.
The stepsisters were incredibly dull. Maybe they would've served better as comedic relief? Maybe they were supposed to be funny and I just didn't get it?
I enjoyed the end when Kit found Ella and it was made clear that he loved her for who she is on the inside and it didn't matter that she had no crown or dowry to give him. Swoon. I enjoyed him a lot as a matter of fact. He was a little over-the-top, but he had standards and knew what he wanted. He stuck to his convictions to find the girl he loved and I don't think I rolled my eyes once.
1950 vs 2015
There was no singing. Even though I love some of the songs from the original, I didn't miss it.
In the 1950's version losing her parents was part of Cinderella's backstory. They were events that we were told happened and not ones we actually saw. This go around we got to see how happy Cinderella and her parents lived before her mother got sick, then we watched as Cinderella's mom instructed her daughter from her death bed to always be kind and have courage followed by her death, then we saw her father never recover from losing his wife and getting remarried as a desperate attempt to be happy again, and finally we got to see Cinderella receiving the news that her father would never come home again. From an adult movie goers standpoint, I see the necessity in the audience living these events with our girl Cindy, but this is a movie for children. I feel like it was an unnecessary amount of sadness to make little kids sit through, but the six year old behind me didn't even cry.
The animals don't talk and there's a random goose. Can anyone tell me what the point of the goose was? There was even a goose chandelier. I feel like the animals were all shoved in for nostalgia purposes only, and I think that's a shame. They either should've been cut completely (which I probably would've hated) or been more characters and less props. I just thought it was very strange.
Let's talk fashion. I hate the new dress. Not a fan, but the six year old that sat behind me really seemed to like it. For whatever that's worth. The new CGI transformation wasn't all it should've been either. I've read before that the 1950s rags to ball gown transformation was Walt Disney's favorite piece of animation, and I can't help but wonder what he would think of this new one. It took longer and she twirled and danced around in amazement, but whatever mystifying quality that the original held for me just wasn't there in this one.
3.5 out of 4 glass slippers
***Note: I never spoke to the little girl that sat behind me. She was just very chatty and articulate. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing her reactions to you.***