This is a guest post by Emma Kliethermes.
Disney’s live action remake of the beloved fairy tale Cinderella in all was not only a fitting tribute to the animated Disney classic, but also a more developed story that captivates the audience, both young and old. Kenneth Branagh’s take on the well-known tale is charming and magical thanks to wonderful attention to details and great acting by everyone on screen.
The colors in the movie are not only striking, but often have a purpose. For instance, Ella is always in blue and in the ball scene, she pops out in the crowd because of her beautiful light blue gown. The colors associated with Anastasia and Drisella are horrid, much like their personalities, and they often stick to a particular color scheme as well. The costumes themselves are extremely extravagant in detail and appearance. Everyone looks splendid, even in the simplest of outfits. It is evident that a lot of thought and hard work came from the costume department.
The sets were also immensely detailed as well as stunning. Every location was littered with tiny details that added to the story and made it more engaging and realistic for the viewers. Every room in Ella’s family’s house was designed with great care as well as all the locations in the palace. Even with the added scenes in the forest and in the village, there was personality in every set which adds to the story as much as the actors do.
The story of Cinderella seemed pretty tight when first imagined and brought to live by Disney animators in 1950. However, Branagh took the time to breathe more connectedness into the story by establishing how happy Ella was with her parents when she was younger. Viewers were able to witness her mother’s death and how that affected her personality and how it affected her father. When Cate Blanchett comes onto the screen as Ella’s stepmother, she is not exactly “evil” at first. Viewers are treated into witnessing the stepmother’s transition into a mean and cruel stepmother to Lily James’s kind Ella. Ella does not just happily take on the role of a servant after her father’s death, but she is coaxed into it slowly and James showcases Ella’s unhappiness and adjustment into her new position in her own house wonderfully. Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger play the step sisters so well, one would think they have been horrendously annoying, shallow, ignorant, and downright cruel their entire lives. Richard Madden gives a wonderful performance as the prince and he was truly charming. He adds more depth to the once one dimensional prince by showing him to have a sense of humor and a good heart, and to be an obedient and good son. The chemistry between Madden and James was awkwardly formal for their first two encounters, which worked well for the story. They flirted effortlessly and just awkwardly enough to be endearing. There were also some performances that added some unexpected, but not unappreciated humor, thanks to characters that pop on screen for just a moment or to give the prince someone to be himself in front of, like his Captain. The Grand Duke also shifted into a more manipulative role that gave his character more depth than his animated counterpart that provided most of the comedic relief in the animated classic. The Fairy Godmother was more of a silly ditzy in a sense character instead of a loving mother figure, thanks to Helena Bonham Carter’s interpretation. Overall, the acting was well done and the main characters were given more depth and maturity that helps this story that much more enchanting.
One drawback to the movie would probably be the use of CGI and special effects. Ella had her mouse friends, like in the animated version, and they were CGI and done well; but some of the magic sequence could have been handled better. The transformations of the pumpkin, some lizards, a goose, and the mice were done in a charming and cool way, but the magical transformation of Ella’s dress was executed a little awkwardly. The amount of CGI that went into the moment and how she looked on screen didn’t read as magical, but more of “oh my dress is changing, isn’t that wonderful.” It is a little hard to explain how that moment could have been handled better, but once seen, it is easier to understand why that profound moment fell flat. Another drawback for the movie is based on the fact little boys and girls would not get anything out of watching the movie, because the story telling is more mature. There are some moments a younger audience would love and understand, but the majority of the movie needs an audience that is a bit more on the older side.
In all, if you are a fan of the animated Cinderella, this movie is for you. Even if you did not like the Disney classic, this new version is different enough to make it more interesting and compelling for a broader audience. It is definitely worth a watch.
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