Let me start out by saying this movie was much better than I expected it to be. If I’m being totally honest, I went into it not 100% thrilled that Disney was just doing another live action re-make – especially after my disappointment with Maleficent. Then we saw a “sneak preview” of the movie at Hollywood Studios, where they showed the complete fairy godmother scene, and I’ll be honest: I didn’t think it was very good. Luckily, that scene was the lowest part of the movie for me, and the rest turned out quite well.
The animated movie spends a lot of time on the antics of the mice, and luckily they play a much smaller role here. In order to make this a full length movie, we delve more into Cinderella’s back story, which pays off. We meet her mother and father and see her life as a child, when things were happy. It develops more of a connection with her, and also shows us more of the reasons why she fell into the position that she did in the household. We also have Cinderella and the Prince meet initially before the ball, in a very sweet and captivating scene. It’s the basic story of Cinderella with some extra stuff thrown in, with a nice pace and without adding too much unnecessary extras.
Something I’ve heard complained about in regards to the animated feature is that Cinderella is too “soft,” and she should stand up for herself and not be willing to do all of the housework. However, this film gives a couple of reasons for why she does this. Her mother and father loved their house, and she feels connected to them in it, so she wants to make sure it’s kept up – and the stepmother takes advantage of this. And her father also asked Cinderella to be kind to her stepmother, even though she can be trying at times – and this initial kindness shown by Cinderella is also taken advantage of.
The casting is also great. Cate Blanchett is just fabulous as Lady Tremaine, and I feel like Lily James makes the perfect Cinderella. And I wasn’t familiar with Richard Madden as the Prince, but I felt like he was suitably charming – not to mention pretty good looking! The only negative in casting for me was the Fairy Godmother, but I’ll get to that later.
And this film is just gorgeous. The scenery and landscaping is stunning, whether we’re in the countryside or at the palace. But the most captivating part is the costumes. Cinderella’s dress is beautiful, but so are many of the other costumes we see throughout the film, especially at the ball. There is a long dance scene that shows off her dress so well.
The one big downfall of the film in my mind was the bit I had seen ahead of time – the Fairy Godmother scene. I love Helena Bonham Carter, but I did not love what they decided to do with this part and her casting. It was basically like one big gag scene, going for cheap laughs that just didn’t seem very funny to me. And the character was played as someone much younger than we’re used to and very quirky. My friend pointed out that her attempts to be witty came off almost as condescending to Cinderella, and she really gets enough of that already from her step-family!
The other thing I didn’t love wasn’t in the film itself, but the short beforehand: Frozen Fever. Not surprising we get a Frozen short, given how popular the film is, but I didn’t think much of this short. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t anything special. I thought the music was decent but I wouldn’t be able to recall it the next day, so not as memorable. And it was funny in parts, but I thought it was a bit strange – the concept is basically that when Elsa gets a cold, she sneezes out little mini snowmen. Okay, then.
Overall I thought the film was really quite good, and definitely surpassed my expectations. It wasn’t one I was originally planning to buy on DVD, but I might have to do it once it comes out because I really did enjoy it. I might even say I liked it better than the original animated movie… though of course I love having the songs in the original. Definitely worth seeing!