Cinderella: A Review by Jeff Turner (2015)
Disney deals in the business of songs old as time. CINDERELLA is certainly that. Kenneth Branagh too, is a man who has made several well-made, very entertaining pieces of work; many of which are either remakes, reboots, or franchises. Its surprising that the film is as lovingly crafted as it is, this could have just as easily been a quick cash-in. Its not great, but it is worth seeing.
You know the story; Ella (Lily James) is forced into servitude by her stepmother (Cate Blanchett; chewing the scenery and having a blast doing it) and stepsisters after her mother (Hayley Atwell) dies of disease and her father (Ben Chaplin) dies whilst away on business. She gets an opportunity to go to the royal ball with the help of a fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter). She eventually wins the heart of the prince (Richard Madden).
Eww, girly stuff. Actually, as a young child, I quite liked the old animated Disney movies. They had a certain charm to them that defied any negative critique. Whether I liked it or not; Disney had me almost at birth. CINDERELLA recalls such films with fondness and technique. In a way, Branagh was the perfect choice for this material, these stories are so well known that they aren’t necessarily that different from his famous Shakespeare adaptations.
I felt a lot in CINDERELLA was familiar. The plot didn’t have enough to it to entirely justify the retelling, but the film sustains itself nonetheless. It sustains itself through its stellar ensemble cast, the strength of the visuals, and the general craft of the film-making. Branagh was able to bring in old veterans like Stellan Skarsgard and Derek Jacobi, whom do great work.
There’s not really much to say in regards to the picture. Its well made, it engages you while you’re watching it, and it has memorable moments. I guess the problem that arises for me is that the film simply is what it is and nothing more. Definitely worth seeing if you’ve got kids, because they will love it. The film isn’t great but it isn’t bad.