Cinderella fans can rejoice over Disney’s latest live action version of one of their classic animated features. Disney absolutely got it right. This breathtaking world steered by director, Kenneth Branagh polishes up the old Disney story by adding just the right touches of realism and magic. It is a story that not only boasts the value of kindness and courage, but is the very embodiment of it.
I have been and still remain to this day a Disney nut. While I’ve always enjoyed the old animated version, Cinderella was not my favorite princess. The old classic provided magic, which I enjoyed. The overall meanness of her step family just didn’t hold a candle next to Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. I always wanted a little stronger and more believable opposition for Cinderella. Her stepsisters were truly mean, and her stepmother wasn’t exactly a peach. This is all true of the old movie. Unfortunately, that was all they offered besides predictability. Maleficent was terrifying, for sure, but she was also charming, which hit up against Princess Aurora’s perfection and embodiment of good in such a way that it became quite compelling. Cinderella doesn’t have this juxtaposition with her stepmother, and it is needed for definition.
While Cinderella’s stepmother couldn’t win against Maleficent in a magic fight, she could hold her own in the personality department in this movie. She is the very embodiment of that which you love to despise. Most of this is due to Cate Blanchett. The actress is known for having a presence in her movies, a presence that usually ends in an Oscar nomination. She spares no expense as the gorgeous and striking stepmother of Cinderella. This is a character I can sink my teeth into. Her character isn’t exactly evil or wicked, but calculating. This is a woman of her time that has been widowed not once, but twice. In a world where status, money, and men matter, we get to understand how Cinderella got shut up in attic and forced to do the bidding of the rest of the household. The most important piece of this conflict is knowing and seeing why her stepmother disliked her so. Her dislike of poor Cinderella was clearly unwarranted and born out pride and fear, but most importantly it existed. This was a much needed piece that was missing in the original animated film.
The stepmother character brought out such an opposition for Cinderella, it allowed for her character to truly grow and be seen. And how lovely Lily James was playing her. There was a softness and poise used throughout every challenge, however undeserved. As limited as the characterization was from the animated movie, this piece was carried over to the live action version and was used as a strength. It wasn’t just expected Disney princess fair either. She was believable in her gentleness.
This believability is due mostly to the liberties the writers took in creating a bit of an origin for Cinderella. We see her grow up in a loving home, taking after her mother, whose own grace and kindness was a force to be reckoned with. After tragedy strikes the family, we get to see the growth of love and support between father and daughter. Bringing in new people was a decision that was shared between them. It created the foundation that the stepmother tried so hard to break, simply because it threatened her.
Acting was wonderful, the little details here and there throughout the story made it that much more tangible, and set and designs of the film created nothing but magic. The costumes. How I loved the costumes! The men’s costumes pretty much followed the sign of the times, which I am guessing would be the mid to late eighteen hundreds. The female costumes are really what stand out as a winner. While they follow the same fashion qualities of the eighteen hundreds, someone decided that a fusion of classic 40’s couture would jazz things up a bit. The result was stunning and gorgeous. Actually it may have been the costumes that persuaded me to be sympathetic to the stepmother. I may have disliked the woman thoroughly, but she knew how to dress. Yes, she sure did. I am also pretty sure that just as Princess Kate’s gorgeous wedding gown was replicated and worn in many a wedding following her nuptials, Cinderella’s Grace Kelley inspired gown will probably find an aisle or two to come down in the next year.
So the only real question left is who can watch this, and that answer is, honestly, everyone. The meanness that Cinderella experiences is so G rated, that the only question any parent should have on their mind when taking their child to see this film, is will they be able to sit through the whole show. The violence and darkness of Maleficent is not in this film, and wouldn’t fit if it tried. Cinderella is a different kind of story with a different drive. A drive that makes it an ideal family film.
Lastly, I should probably talk about this cute little short that Disney threw together to be paired with the movie. Seems like a gamble to try something new and put it up against something as iconic as Cinderella. You never know, Disney may be on to something. I am, of course, talking about the highly anticipated Frozen Fever short. All of our favorite characters are back and preparing for a special day, Anna’s birthday. Since it is a short, I won’t go any further than that, but it’s worth it. I actually enjoyed it so much, that I felt bad. My youngest nephew is massive Frozen fan. While he is still too young to fully sit and watch the full length movie of Cinderella, he wouldn’t have budged for Elsa and Anna. I can’t even tell the little guy about it for fear it will upset him. Come on Blu-ray, because I’m ready for that little guy to see his Elsa and of course add Cinderella to my own personal collection, because it simply was just perfect.
You can now see Cinderella and Frozen Fever in theaters everywhere! Visit the official CINDERELLA Website: http://disney.com/Cinderella
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