With a grand cast and wonderful direction from the great Sir Kenneth Branagh, this latest entry of Disney live action remakes successfully manages to maintain the charm of the original.
Downtown Abbey’s Lily James sparkles as Ella, a derivation of the film’s famous title character. After her parents die she becomes a maid for her wicked stepmother and her foolish daughters, who ridicule and abuse her at every opportunity. She then meets Kit, played by Richard Madden of Game of Thrones fame, unaware he is the sole son of the King and seeking a bride for the upcoming royal ball. Of course, we know what happens from there.
It is difficult not to make comparisons to the 1950 animation. The plot is essentially the same given a few additions due to the near two hour running time. This time we are given an insight into life before everything turned sour for poor Cinders, watching her transform from a child into a young woman. From there we offered the expected: fairy godmothers, pumpkin carriages and glass slippers.
The ballroom scene is more the spectacle in live action, with synchronised dancing that must have taken numerous shoots to perfect, and the shimmering decor of the palace. But with Branagh at the realms you expect nothing less.
WHO STOLE THE SHOW?
Despite James’s charming, unforgettable performance, the show stealer is arguably Cate Blanchett as the cruel Lady Tremaine. As one of Disney’s most underrated villains, the versatile Australian succeeds in making you truly despise the character as well as sympathise with Ella, making the ‘happily ever after’ ending even more rewarding.
And let’s not forget Helena Bonham Carter’s Fairy Godmother, of course. Although her screen time is brief, her effortless acting ability and natural charisma makes for a memorable portrayal. No need for any Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boos here.
Expectations for Cinderella were never going to be on Citizen Kane scale, but it is far from another mundane attempt to recreate magic. Is it spectacular? Not especially. Is it predictable? Of course, but the predictably can easily be forgiven – it’s a retelling of a timeless classic Disney made famous.
Nonetheless, if you’re a fan of the animation, then this is well worth the watch.
3.5 / 5