After the remakes of iconic Disney fairytales such as Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent, I had high expectations for their newest release of Cinderella starring Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter and directed by Thor's Kenneth Branagh.
The new Cinderella film is not a prequel story, nor is it a modernized telling. Instead, the film remains as classic as the original 1950's animated film, but is presented in live-action.
The film tells the story of young Ella, played by Lily James, who loses her mother at a very young age. Years later, her father remarries and their family grows by one evil stepmother, played by the extraordinary Cate Blanchett, and two cruel stepsisters. Ella stumbles across the prince, played by Game of Thrones star Richard Madden, one day in the forest and it is love at first sight. Meanwhile, the King is pushing the young prince to marry and create an heir to the throne. They plan a grand ball in which every young maiden in town is eligible to attend. There, the Prince and Ella immediately fall in love with each other. Ella, who is under a spell cast by her Fairy Godmother, played by Helena Bonham Carter, must leave the party before the last stroke of midnight. As she flees from the palace, the only thing she leaves behind for the prince is not her identity, but one glass slipper. The prince and his grand duke search far and wide for Cinderella by trying the slipper on every eligible maiden in town. Eventually, he finds Cinderella and they live happily ever after.
The film is not as one-dimensional as the original animated film released in 1950. We learn more about each character's backstory, and what makes them tick. We learn what their motives are, which have brought them to who they are today. The prince actually is a multi-dimensional character in this film with more lines other than, "Wait! Stop!" as he does in the original film. Lily James perfectly captures the essence of the original Cinderella. Her magical glow is just as bright as her glowing blue dress. The dress, which is a character in itself, is a masterpiece and steals the show. Cate Blanchett, who is magnificent in every body of work, is fantastic as the evil stepmother. The film is visually artistic and beautiful, full of rich and saturated colors. Costumer designer Sandy Powell did an incredible job at the massive amounts of tulle and ball gowns. The film score is equally magical.
However, I found the film lacking in elements that are crucial to the success of films today. Humor, modernization, and a quick pace.
The film had moments where the writers tried to make a scene funny, but there were flaws in the execution. There were no LOL moments like Angelina Jolie's in Maleficent.
Something to point out: when watching the Cinderella story as an animated film, it is such a fantasy that "anything goes" and is not questioned. The fact that this film is a live-action film, and also maybe because I am an adult now, made it very hard to watch this story-line without getting mad. Why doesn't she stand up for herself? Why doesn't she just leave instead of being treated like a servant? One would expect that this year's Cinderella might be a retelling of a new, strong, independent woman who takes control of her life and dignity.
In today's society with social media platforms such as twitter which only allows us about 140 characters, and snapchat which provides us with nothing more than about 10 seconds of footage, viewers are incredibly impatient. The young audience of today is already on to the next thing, and the film will lose their attention if it does not maintain a quick, and interesting, pace. Cinderella starts off, and remains, slow throughout the film. Given, we already know the storyline and what to expect, we needed something new and fresh to keep us entertained throughout the film.
This year's Cinderella will do well in the box office, and Cinderella-themed consumer products will be bringing in a lot of revenue for the company, but I thought the film could have been better. It had potential for a 9/10!