Cinderella is the live action retelling of the 1950s animated movie of the same title. We all know the tale, but in case you need a bit of a refresher I'll let you know anyway. We follow the story of a young woman named Cinderella (Lily James), in case you were unable to read the title. She was close with her mother and father, but after both of their deaths, she's left with her step-mother (Cate Blanchett) and her two step-sisters (Sophie McShera and Holiday Grainger), who aren't the nicest people around. But opportunity arises when a ball is placed, although the odds of Cinderella being able to go are low. Unless, of course, one has a fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter).
I was not looking forward to this film. After Alice in Wonderland and, more recently, Maleficent, a live action adaptation of Cinderella seemed like the worst thing in the world, and the trailers certainly didn't help either. Then I saw the film and my god was I wrong. The new adaptation of Cinderella is everything a Cinderella movie should be. It doesn't go down the darker paths of previous live action adaptations, instead remaining bright and hopeful, and a tad emotional too. I will admit, this film had me on the brink of tears during the first act, resulting in several 6-year-old-like panic attacks in which I continuously reassured myself that everything was going to be alright eventually and that my worries should be put at ease. This is what Disney does to me, people.
Cinderella plays out exactly how you'd expect it to. The film plays it safe and this is both a good and a bad thing. It doesn't take a lot of risks, not mentioning the film's twenty minute opening in which we actually get to see Cinderella's backstory and it's arguably one of the best moments in the film, although my favourite moment remains the ball sequence. Playing it safe results in Cinderella being very familiar, although it's also just as charming as the original animated movie, which is what last year's Maleficent needed to learn how to do.
It features everything we love about the original Cinderella and translates it for a modern audience, but it does so without loosing any of the magic. I was just watching the original film again last night and while this isn't a shot for shot remake, *cough Psycho cough* it does feel very similar. Sure, there's less of the mice vs cat, and that dog is completely out of the picture, but that's hardly a bad thing, for the original spends WAY too much time focusing on them and not enough time with Cinderella. This version fixes that and turns it into a more human focussed story, and for that, I applaud them.
Direct Kenneth Branagh, fresh off of last year's Jack Ryan Shadow Recruit, dials his directing skills up to 11, crafting a film that both looks and feels whimsical. He clearly has a love for this timeless story and this translates on screen. He's got the classic pumpkin carriage, glass slipper, blue dress and so much more, and all of it is visually amazing, even if the human-lizard can occasionally be slightly off-putting. But as well as that, his cinematography is stupendous, especially the scenes in which Cinderella dashes through the ball or the scene wheres she gallops through the woods on horseback.
Speaking of Cinderella, Lily James is brilliant in the role. She could not have been cast better. Not only does she look the part, but she can act it too. She has a sort of likability about her, and as we all know, likability and kindness are, well, Cinderella's most noticeable traits. Her scenes with Richard Madden burst off of the screen, the two constantly bouncing off of each other. They're a marvellous pairing and they're quite a treat to watch, although the whole film could be described that way.
To sum up, Cinderella may not add too much to the timeless story, but it's still a magical, charming, emotional and delightful viewing with some whimsical visuals, acting and directing. Now, let's all watch as Tim Burton completely ruins Dumbo.
3 1/2 Stars