Movie Review: “Cinderella” – Magical

Written by Caitlin Cooper March 17, 2015

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The 1950 animated film “Cinderella” was one of the original Disney princess films and has remained a classic for generations. It’s a tale of pain, love, and finding happiness. While the film will always be beloved by many, it’s about time the story has been told in live-action for current audiences to fall in love with again. And it’s so easy to adore this lovely film. When I saw the teaser trailer last year, I was so excited for another live-action Disney fairy-tale. While I enjoyed the dark “Maleficent” – a unique take on “Sleeping Beauty” -, I hoped that “Cinderella” would stay more true to its animated predecessor, and build upon the story. Now, almost a year later, “Cinderella” did not disappoint.

“Cinderella” tells the tale of Ella (Lily James), a girl whose happy and loving home has faced an unexpected, great loss. Her father (Ben Chaplin) hopes to regain some happiness after meeting a woman he comes to care for, and Ella supports him despite seeing the cruelty lurking under the surface of her new family members. When Ella’s father suddenly falls ill and passes away, her step-mother (Cate Blanchett) and step-sisters abuse her kindness and make her their servant while they seek to secure their own future. But a chance encounter with a kind stranger, and a kingdom-wide invitation to a lavish ball will give Ella a chance at happiness and change her life forever.

“Oh, I do love a happy ending.”

When re-making a classic fairy-tale, a deft hand must choose which details to honour, and which to alter. The story is different enough to breathe some freshness into this beloved tale, but retains elements of what made the animated film so great. There are some funny scenes with the cat, Lucifer, and Ella’s mice friends are a recurring presence that add the right touch of comedy – largely thanks to fan favourite, Gus. The film, while it delves into some darker scenes sometimes, is light and uplifting. What makes “Cinderella” so wonderful is that while it maintains the magic and charm of the animated film, it also builds upon the characters so that the story has more depth and emotion. While Ella’s childhood is only summarized in the animated film, here we get to see the life she had before she became so mistreated by her step-mother and step-sisters. It makes the story have more of an impact, and her struggle and triumph more beautiful. Ella is strong, kind, and honest. She has empathy, even for those who wrong her, and her perseverance is so moving.

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Every character is given a back-story to give them more dimension, like Ella’s step-mother becoming bitter and cruel due to a hard life. We also get to know the prince, who prefers to be called Kit (Richard Madden). The focus on him allows for the romance to be somewhat realistic despite how quickly it goes from attraction to love. His father is ill, and while it could have gone predictably with his father not listening to his wishes about his own future, that’s not the case. Kit’s qualities include honesty and kindness which makes the bond him and Ella form understandable. They share similar qualities, and respect each other’s ideals. If you can get past how quickly the relationship progresses, then you’ll find it lovely.

“Find the girl. The forgetful one who loses her shoes.”

While the costumes, sets, and cinematography of  “Cinderella” shine and create a visually stunning film, the acting is what makes the story really come to life. James (from “Downton Abbey”) easily portrays sweet and vulnerable Ella with such consistent strength; she makes the character feel real. Madden (previously on “Game of Thrones”) plays the smart and strong Kit well, and the last scene with his ailing father is one of his best. Cate Blanchett subtly and powerfully shows the pain of the character just as well as she does the cruelty. Helena Bonham Carter as Ella’s fairy godmother is whimsical and fun; she brings a delightful comedic note. Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera play the shallow and over-the-top step-sisters, and while they aren’t fleshed out like other characters are, they do provide entertainment and act as some of the bullies Ella must face.

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“Cinderella”, directed by Kenneth Branagh and written by Chris Weitz, is a lovely live-action re-make of a Disney classic. While the pace is almost a bit too quick at times, and the script sometimes toes the edge of cheesiness, the story is actually complex, moving, and delightful. The message of being kind and brave is important. Together the script and actors make “Cinderella” feel like a fresh tale, and make the film memorable and magical.

My Rating: 9.5/10

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About Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin Cooper

Caitlin is an avid watcher of movies and television shows so she decided to use her passion to write about them. She has a B.A. in English Language and Literature with a Minor in Creative Writing.

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