Another Cinderella movie? Didn’t Into the Woods just come out? Isn’t Once Upon A Time enough fairy tale for all of us? Haven’t they done this a dozen times already?
All valid questions.
It’s directed by Kenneth Branagh? Wasn’t Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit bad enough, he has to start really gutting my childhood…can’t he go back to Shakespeare?
Also a very valid concern.
Ones I shared going into what I assumed was going to be an unmitigated train wreck. Before even going in I was thinking how can I roast this film without sounding like someone who just hates everything good with childhood and simplicity…
Gratefully however, I did not have to go there because this film was actually pretty good.
Cinderella avoided being the now cliché idea of a fractured fairy tale of “let’s retell the whole thing but it’s not the story you think you know” and it also avoided just being the classic Disney film redone with live actors. What Branagh managed to do was take all the good parts of everything from the Disney cartoon to Ella Enchanted, leave out all the annoying parts of each one of those, and roll all the good parts into one film. You have intelligent (but not talking) mice but you don’t have 40 minutes of Tom & Jerry. You have everything you love about Cinderella really meeting the Prince at the ball…but she has met him before that, although she didn’t know he was the prince…thus letting the ball be where their relationship really grows but not being too much of campy love at first sight. You have all the villainy of the stepmother but now she isn’t a completely two dimensional villain cutout either.
The only slight problem was that the stepsisters were so over the top they almost came off as rejects from a Tim Burton film…but they’re supposed to be horrific excuses for humanity—and given that they worked out her disappointment at her daughters being complete idiots as part of why Lady Tremaine was so vile, you can forgive them for this little bit of annoyance.
I don’t need to tell you the story for this, you know the story, aside from a few minor plot points, it’s Cinderella. You’d have to live in a cave to not know this story. But for a fairy tale that usually lacks depth, they managed to make Cinderella strong, intelligent but retain her kindness, the Prince has an actual personality, and even enough character for the stepmother that you pity her more than hate her (in no small part to Cate Blanchett).
I might even go as far to say that this might be the best version of Cinderella I’ve seen…it’s not a great film, but you have to admit all the other versions have some glaring flaws (yes, yes, I know, sacrilege to those of you who have your favorite but shoehorned Da Vinci’s and long runs of cats chasing mice are flawed whether you like it or not).
Oh, and while not really great, the inclusion of a Disney cartoon at the beginning was a nice touch.
4 out 5