The best way to deliver this review would be to sing all the words to you! And while I didn’t mean to rhyme, it doesn’t hurt to keep the opening line.
OK – I’ll stop. But seriously, the movie was undeniably the most magical, classic, wonderful movie I have seen in an extremely long time, and that always makes me want to sing! Where to begin…
The Cinderella movie is incomparable to its animated counterpart, but that doesn’t mean one is better than the other. I’m a strong supporter of the classic Cinderella, and believe she is the ultimate Disney princess. Anyone who would argue is not to be trusted. (he he) 🙂
The story line does stick with the main thread of the original; beautiful young maiden, nasty step-mother and sisters, the Prince’s ball, pumpkin at midnight, etc… But the plot goes deeper into the background story of Prince Charming – or “Kit”, as he is called by his father – making him a much more structured and sympathetic character. You really feel for him while he is on the search for his love. And it doesn’t hurt that the actor portraying the infamous Prince is none other than Richard Madden (shout out to my GOT Robb Stark fangirls out there!).
Besides better developing Prince Charming, we are treated through a bittersweet journey with Ella and her mother. She is such an important influence on sweet Ella. Her life lessons are taken to heart by her only child, and you feel a true loss when she passes on. It was such a wonderful experience to watch their interaction on screen. She leaves behind some words of wisdom that we are able to see Ella utilize throughout her life without her mother: “Have courage and be kind”
These are good words to live by… but I believe Ella did not fully understand their meaning until the ending of the movie. She takes the “be kind” message to literally, and in turn allows her new family to treat her horribly, while she allows it to happen. I was concerned that her absent “backbone” would generate by way of the Prince; thus keeping with the old-fashioned way of delivering princess movies where the princess is undefinable until she gets married to her prince. I’m happy to say, though, that this was not the case.
While she would remind herself to “have courage and be kind”, we see Ella learn that above all else, you need to be kind to yourself. This means having the courage to stand up for yourself against those who are not kind. I love that her mother’s message could adhere to multiple situations, and regardless of how interpreted, the user (Ella) would always be morally in the right. Ella does finally speak up for herself, and I cheered for her when it happened.
The movie took on a different life of its own visually. I was stunned by how beautiful the imagery was in this film. It felt like I was in the middle of this fairy-tale world, and I truly did not want it to end. It was absolutely beautiful in every way. The dress scene alone was astonishing! Knowing that in the original film, it was Walt Disney’s absolute favorite bit of animation, I felt that they paid this tribute to him by creating one of the most magnificent scenes that needs to be witnessed.
The extra character background and imagery are two parts of this film that undoubtedly set this film apart from the others. But I do have to get real right now, and there was one area that I was actually disappointed in, and that was – surprisingly – the casting.
Earlier in my blog, I had written about my skepticism for Helena Bonham Carter playing the Fairy Godmother. While I always try to keep an open mind from judgement on casting (especially after I was completely against Heath Ledger, and actor I truly adored, playing the Joker – until I saw him! #eatCrow), my original disdain for this casting was unfortunately founded, for me anyways.
I think they wanted to create a fairy who was a bit absent minded, and maybe because of the short amount of screen time she had, this translated on-screen as more of an annoyance then a playful flaw.
Plus, I wasn’t buying the look of the fairy godmother. This may be because I’m used to the animated fairies from movies like the original Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, meaning the older, plump little grandma looking fairies. Carter didn’t cut it for me.
Cate Blanchett, an actor I admire greatly, was just “all right” with me. The acting with Ella and her parents, along with Prince Charming and the King, were fabulous. In a way, I wish that the evil stepmother was a bit more evil, but the way the story goes, you sort of sympathize with her at the end – just for a second, a mere second! Because of that, I was uncertain about how I feel in regards to her character, but know that she didn’t steal the show as she usually does.
But the biggest disappointment was the stepsisters. Simply put: they weren’t funny.
While they are supposed to be disliked because they are rude and mean to the protagonist, the love’em/hate’em traits never came through. Their gaudy attire and clumsy motions were meant to add to their image of distasteful girls, but instead, due to either poor acting or sub-par writing, these additional features only aided in presenting the stepsisters as dumb and obnoxious, and not in a funny way. I actually hated it when they were on screen, because they took away from the wonderful world that this film had allowed me to enter. They didn’t make me laugh or even anger me, they just got on my nerves.
Thankfully, the good far outweighs the bad, and the best is hands down, no doubt about it, Lily James – our Cinderella! She is the absolutely steals the show, and is just perfect as Ella. I don’t think any one else could have portrayed the empathetic character any more gracefully then she did. And I don’t think I can commend her enough on this performance, she was born to play this role. *Applause*
My recommendation: Go see the movie and allow yourself to be swept away into this beautiful world that has been created for you. This is an immeasurable delight that just has to be experienced by anyone who has ever wished upon a star!