CINDERELLA | Movie Review


I don’t pretend to be the biggest fan of princess movies.  If I had to pick I’d say I am partial to Sleeping Beauty, but that has more to do with Tchaikovsky’s music than the story.  Still when Disney puts out their next princess-themed film, I do find myself rooting for the heroine no matter what struggles seem to befall her.  The Cinderella story has been covered many times and I had hoped this adaptation would have some unique take on that familiar tale.  Of course originality would just incite riots.  Look how well the latest take on Annie did.  Granted it doesn’t help to stray too much from the source material.  Our latest offer of the girl with the glass slippers is as faithful to the original animated film as you can imagine; and although it offers quite a bit of magic, it doesn’t quite capture your heart as much as it hopes to.

In Cinderella, directed by Kenneth Branagh, a young child named Ella has two loving parents who reside in a large home on the outskirts of a kingdom.  Ella’s mother teaches her to be kind, caring, and courageous; and to also believe in magic. She shares her thoughts and imagination with the mice and other animals around her home, whom she can somehow communicate with.  Her father would go on long journeys and return with gifts.  One day Ella’s mother becomes sick and passes away, leaving Ella’s father to take care of her into her adult years.  He professes his love for another woman who has two daughters and, with Ella’s approval, he moves them into their home.  Soon Ella loses her father as well and her stepmother (Cate Blanchett), who despises Ella and remains jealous of the love her father showed her, convinces Ella to live in the attic so her daughters could have their own room.

Ella (Lily James) feels completely alone in her own home, but at least she has the mice that played with her when she was young to keep her company.  She still maintains her spirit and courage despite these setbacks and becomes even more optimistic when she learns the palace is hosting a ball for the prince (Richard Madden).  The prince needs a princess and he hopes he will meet again a certain someone he ran across in the forest during the hunt.  The king and grand duke would prefer he set his sights on a more suitable princess with access to land and money, but the prince is undeterred and you can see in his eyes he will find this girl no matter what.  Will Ella and the prince get the chance to profess their love for each other; or will the Grand Duke and stepmother make that an impossible feat?  Since this is a Disney movie, I think you can figure out the rest.  Luckily there is a fairy godmother, played by Helena Bonham Carter, to lend a hand.

It is explained in the movie that Cinderella is a nickname given to Ella by her stepsisters when they tease her for getting dirty by the kitchen fire.  Ella chooses to own this new name as a way to devalue its power to humiliate her while also starting a new chapter in her life with a new name.  It’s the most positive and empowering message I got from this film because I didn’t want Cinderella to just be another woman waiting for the prince to save her.  Cinderella received lots of help along the way, but she did remain strong throughout the journey to her happiness.  She does not cower from new possibilities and even stands up to her stepmother when the time comes.

I found the movie touches on most of the heartwarming moments of the original animated film such as the pumpkin coach and lizard footmen.  Helena Bonham Carter plays a decent fairy godmother, fixing Cinderella’s gown and providing the glass slippers the prince will eventually lay his eyes on.  I did love the music, but I was disappointed that Disney chose not to use any of the songs from the original except in the credits.  Even an instrumental would have been enlightening.

Cinderella is a worthwhile adaptation that families will enjoy together.  Lily James and Richard Madden have great chemistry on screen as the prince and handmaiden respectively.  Cate Blanchett does a terrific job as the evil stepmother, but I would have preferred a little more depth.  Often it seemed there would be more to her, but then she would snap back into evil mode and the opportunity would be lost.  I do enjoy Kenneth Branagh’s ability to bring energy and fun into the films he directs.  He captured a fraction of the magic of the animated film, but some magic is better than no magic at all.


About Cinderella

Synopsis: 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 in the woods.

Director: Kenneth Branagh

Writer: Chris Weitz

Stars: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Stellan Skarsgard, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell

Rated: PG

Runtime: 112 Minutes

Opens: March 13th, 2015

Notify of
1 Comment
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments