My daughter and I went to see Disney's new Cinderella movie today and we had a blast. Making Kenneth Branagh the director was a wise choice. He has skill in building tense and excitement and takes full advantage of the beautiful scenery and customs. I could see shades of his Much Ado About Nothing in this 2015 live-action version of Cinderella. And if you're not seen Much Ado..., then I would recommend that you add it to your viewing list. In fact, that film would be a strong one to follow up with Cinderella.
So what did I think about the film? All in all, it's a solid film. I'm hoping that during award season that Cinderella is remembered for its costumes. There is so much color in all the beautiful dresses and uniforms. But what stole the cake? Ella's own ball dress that the fairy godmother makes for her is just magnificent. The blue is just perfect on screen. Lily James' hair and skin color complement the dress perfectly.
There isn't much to this story and if you're looking for a re-telling that is a bit more modern, you won't fine it here. Instead, go back to Ever After and watch that Drew Barrymore flick (again, you can't go wrong with that film). Branagh remains true to the Disney version of the fairy tale, but there's a few scenes at the end that I can't remember if they're in the animated classic or not. When Ella's stepmother (played wonderfully by the ever amazing Cate Blanchett) breaks one of the glass slippers, we went into territory that I never recall seeing in the animated version. And that was good because much of the film, you know exactly what's going to happen. There aren't many twists and turns here, but still, the film plays out in an enjoyable way. Cinderella is solid family fare that will plays well for any princesses in your own home.
Yes, I did take my 7 year old to this film. She and I had a daddy/daughter day and I hope to look back and smile at how much fun she had at the movie. Her favorite part was the pumpkin being turned into a carriage. Whereas mine was Ella's entrance to the ball. Hundreds of extras in brilliantly colored dress and uniforms just made for a fantastical display on the screen. Lily James brought an innocence to the role of Ella. She is solid and I was swept up in her hope, tears and sorrow.
The film's message of "always be courage and kind" is a nice one, but there isn't much gumption in Ella. She becomes the house slave of her stepmother and doesn't really rebel, but she's also not beaten down. Her spirit is never broken but if you're looking for Ella to be a solid role model for your daughter to rescue herself, you'll not find that in this film. I expect that there will be much discussion in film classes about this film's lack of a woman's power. No matter if it's her stepmother or herself, women are portrayed as needy of men in this movie. Granted, the time period made is so, but a little part of me wanted more. I guess that's why I decided to write my own books about Cinderella.
There's a part in the film that made my heart soar: Ella comes home from the ball, goes to her room and opens up her diary and starts writing. Considering my Cinderella's Secret Witch Diaries series deals exactly wit this topic, I was really happy to see this play out on screen.
I wonder if Disney will ever make a sequel. If they do, maybe they'll come knocking and option my three books. Who knows, anything is possible!
My daughter and I enjoyed the movie a lot and it was a pleasant way to spend a cold and dreary afternoon, dreaming of magic, balls and some fun.
All in all I'd recommend seeing this film--especially in the theaters. And don't forget that the animated short, Frozen Fever, is a sequel to Disney's smash hit Frozen that plays right before the movie. With a brand new song and a solid premise, Frozen Fever was a lot of fun to see as well.