Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Chris Weitz
Cast: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgård, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Jana Perez, Alex Macqueen, Tom Edden
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.
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for mild thematic elements
7 / 10
- Acting was decent
- Prince Charming was given more of a personality and backstory. Plus, the arc about his relationship with his father was a nice touch to add to his character's depth.
- Visual and Sound effects were amazing
- The art direction was great, as it does replicate the same magical world that we saw in the animated classic quite well.
- Cate Blanchett kills it as the evil stepmother.
- The story is literally nothing more than a generic cliché rip off of it's animated counterpart that offers nothing new to the story, as it plays off people's nostalgic senses to trick you into thinking it's great.
- Some of the new elements that Chris Weitz and Kenneth Branagh add don't really contribute anything to the story, and it seems kind of pointless to bring up. For starters, they introduce Cinderella's real parents, but they're given bland personalities that you never care about either of them.
- The initial meeting between Cinderella and Charming seemed kind of pointless considering that it doesn't add much depth to their romantic relationship because they don't even talk to each other again until the end of the second act anyway.
- The romance between Charming and Cinderella still feels forced and contrived.
Have courage and be kind
Unlike "Malificent" that received mixed reviews last year, it seems like Disney's latest live action adaptation of "Cinderella" is being universally praised by audiences and critics alike. But is the praise warranted? Or perhaps another case of being abysmally over hyped? Let's discuss that now shall we.
Since "Malficent" did so well at the box office last year, it seems Disney is moving ahead with a slew of live action adaptations of almost all their animated classics. In fact, it's already been confirmed that we'll be getting live action adaptations of "Dumbo", "The Jungle Book", "Beauty and the Beast", "Pinocchio", "Mulan" and "Winnie the Pooh." Wow, I'm not sure if I should congratulate Disney for coming up with such a lucrative way to cash in on their previous classics, or if I should weep for future generations.
Unlike "Malificent" though, "Cinderella" doesn't try to retell the story from another character's perspective this time. No, this time Disney decides to play it straight. In fact, if you've already seen the original animated classic, then congratulations because that means you've also seen the remake too without even knowing it, as this live action remake practically follows the original story line to a freaking "T"; hence why I won't even bother delving into the story for this freaking film because I'm sure everyone knows it by now. Evil stepmother and step sisters abuse poor Cinderella , as they turn her into a servant. Fairy godmother with magic spells and such. Handsome prince dances with her at some ball. Glass slipper goes missing, and yada yada. Most readers know the drill.
Sure, there's a few noticeable differences like you'll NEVER see any of the characters break out into song, nor do any of the animals talk in this movie either. Although the CGI mice are given expressive eyes to convey emotions, which could come off as being very cute or downright creepy depending on who you ask.
Of course, we're also given a bit more back story to Cinderella's parents, and Prince Charming himself. And when you think about the added back story this movie tries to throw in, you can't help but think that maybe this film might offer us something deeper than even it's original 1950s counterpart.
Sadly, it doesn't. Even though the film does give us a back story on who's Cinderella's real parents were, you still never get a sense of who they were as characters. Her parents come off as "Mary Sue" characters that are always whimsical and happy half the time.
And a few scenes later, they're immediately killed off one by one before we get a chance to know them as characters. In fact, adding "Cinderella's parents into the live action remake doesn't contribute anything of substance that you didn't get from the original animated movie; outside of the fact that they're good people.
Of course, the live action remake tries to develop Prince Charming into a more deeper character, and I have to admit that Kenneth Branagh does a fairly decent job doing that. Not only is Prince Charming more of a complex emotional character, but the film even gives him his own story arc involving his father, which I found to be interesting to watch.
Sadly, the romance between Cinderella and Charming still seems forced, as it relies on that "love at first sight" nonsense again. Although to be fair, they did meet once before the famous ballroom dancing scene that was featured in the original, but it doesn't add anything to film considering it only lasts for less than five minutes. And, they never see each other again until the ballroom scene, so it kind of makes their first meeting a bit pointless.
Having said all that. "Cinderella" isn't a bad movie by any means, but some of the elements that Branagh tries to implement to this latest adaptation, to make it seem deeper than the original, doesn't work out due to it's poor execution.
However, it seems like Branagh tries to capitalize off the nostalgia factor that this remake will obviously generate from fans. Hell, it's almost like Branagh had a checklist of things to add to make sure this movie would play off everyone's nostalgic memories of the original. You have the ugly stepsisters, and evil step mother. You still have a shallow "love at first sight" romance between Charming and Cinderella. You have the fairy god mother turning mice into horses, while giving Cinderella a fancy new outfit; complete with the trademark glass slippers.
You have the famous stroke of midnight scene, and of course the climax seems to play out almost the same exact way as the original did. Granted, I can forgive a remake for following the original's story line to a "T", as the "Karate Kid" did that too. However, the reason why the remake of "Karate Kid" did it better was because even though it was literally the exact same freaking story told almost the exact same way, It still added new elements to the original that somehow made it feel fresh and nuanced.
It had the Chinese culture backdrop to it to give it more of an ancient martial arts theme. The antagonists were more menacing and darker. The relationship between student and master were more balanced and harmonious than it was in the original version.
The characters were much younger, so it added to the vulnerability and sympathy factor of our protagonist being a fish out of water that was adjusting to his new surroundings. Unlike "Cinderella", every element that was introduced in the remake of the "Karate Kid" served a purpose, and added depth to the story.
Whereas the live action remake of "Cinderella", it tries to implement new elements to make it feel fresh and nuanced, but most of those elements fall flat on it's face because it never adds anything to the overall story that wasn't there before.
As I said earlier, Cinderella's parents have no personality, and they die way too soon for us to ever care about either of them. The meeting between Charming and Cinderella was kind of nice if they wanted to establish more of a relationship between them, but it's ruined by the fact that they only have a few scenes together (most of them around the end), which makes them meeting before that ballroom scene kind of pointless.
Apart from fleshing out Charming's character, and establishing his relationship with his father, the entire remake is nothing more than elaborate ruse to trick everyone into believing it's some sort of masterpiece, by making most of the film an exact replica of the animated classic to play off everyone's nostalgic senses. When in reality, it's nothing more than a cash grab for Disney to capitalize off one of it's animated classics.
If I were to judge this movie purely on it's own, I wouldn't say it's a bad movie to be honest. It's cute and funny. For the most part, "Cinderella" does it's job playing this simplistic charming little fairy tale.
However, if you just want to see a live action version of the same damn movie you probably saw when you were a kid, then I'd say knock yourself out with "Cinderella." It's basically the same damn story anyway, so I'm sure you won't hear as many hardcore Disney fans getting pissed about any changes like last year, when "Malificent" came out.
But if you ask me, I'd say stick with the original animated classic. Surprisingly, the 1950s version still holds up to this day, and it's certainly better than this remake.
© 2015 Steven Daniels