Taking theaters by storm this past weekend March 13, the beloved princess classic hit screens again this time starring “Downton Abbey” sweetheart Lily James as the orphan turned princess and and “Game of Thrones” hunk Richard Madden as the diligent prince.
Keeping true to the storyline of the original 1950 animated Disney classic film, the 2015 release delves a bit more into Cinderella’s back story. We meet her mother and father, and get to know them just enough to see how much they love each other as well as how much they adore their precious daughter, Ella. Emphasis is put on how light, airy and uniqueness of the house they live in and how much Ella’s father is away on business trips. It’s the kind of moment in a movie that, as an audience, you know is just too good to be true and a terrible impending downfall is just around the corner.
Wouldn’t you know it though, in keeping with the story, Ella’s mother, who is casually and beautifully dying in a lounge chair softly speaks and reminds her daughter to “have courage and be kind.”
Time passes and Ella is the vision of her mother who lives by the words that her dying mother whispered to her. Even when her stunningly fierce stepmother, Lady Tremaine (Academy Award Winner Cate Blanchett), moves in with her bumbling twin daughters, Ella’s demeanor is just as soft and kind as the story dictates, but honestly it’s a bit frustrating after a while. We get it, you’re a fair dainty maiden.
Surprisingly there was barely, if any, singing throughout the film. The adaption strayed away from the musical aspect, a signature of nearly every animated Disney princess film. In fact, another aspect that was not touched upon was the penchant of talking animals. Of course during the transformation scene the lizards and goose, now human, have the ability to speak but that all disappears once the spell wears off.
In trading for the singing and animals, director Kenneth Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz, brought a story and life to the mysterious Prince Charming. Played by the handsome and talented Richard Madden, Prince Charming lived up to his moniker. Madden looks as if he was born to play a Disney prince. That gorgeous smile, those dazzling eyes, the charm that shined like a bright aura…he was fantastic. We learn that Prince Charming does have a first name, Kit, and he also has no mother and a dying father, whom he loves very much. Kit’s companions, though it’s not clear if they are actual friends or just close confidantes based on their positions in the palace, have quite a dynamic.
Possibly in an attempt to dispel the idea that love at first sight, Branagh and Weitz had the soon-to-be princess and her prince meet up about a quarter through the film; spotting each other racing their horses through the mysterious and beautiful forest area behind Ella’s household. Perhaps a nod to the other Disney princess classic “Sleeping Beauty” or an attempt to say “we met once before”, it was cute and smart.
After that scene the film moves impossibly fast. With the prince planning the ball, and opening it up to the kingdom and everyone going haywire planning their outfits.
Speaking of outfits, props to Oscar winning costume designer Sandy Powell for her take on the outfits in this film. Everything from Lady Tremaine’s intricate, dark and gorgeous outfits to the stepsister’s colorfully loud outfits, up to Cinderella’s gorgeous, signature blue ball gown. Nearly every outfit was it’s own character and brought more to every scene than one could imagine.
That dress wouldn’t be complete without the fairy godmother, played by the effervescent Helena Bonham-Carter, who has looked the best she has on film in years. It was nice to see her in something other than dark and drab costumes. Her take on the bubbly and quirky fairy was perfect. It was disappointing that she only had about five minutes of screen time.
Overall the film was fantastic. A gorgeous take, that people might have been a bit leary about. After seeing the sensational results of “Cinderella”, it’s no wonder Disney has just finished up their casting for their 2017 live-action reboot of another fairy tale classic “Beauty and the Beast”. It will be no surprise to see “Cinderella” make it’s rounds during the 2015-2016 awards show season for the direction, writing, costume and set design.
Audiences put nearly $170 million in the box office opening weekend for the film. Has Disney found it’s new niche?
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars