Disney does justice to live action version of timeless fairy tale

“Cinderella” is a classic story made popular by Disney from its 1950 animated release. This past Friday, Disney released a live-action remake with the same name.

Even though the American Film Institute selected the original film as one of the best American animated films ever made, as a child, I thought it was a boring movie. I felt the plot was bland, and, compared to my favorite animated movie, “Beauty and the Beast,” it was relatively uneventful.

However, the newest release captivated my interest with its impressive cast, setting, costumes and message.

Overall, the film stayed true to the original plot, but elaborated on the family back stories. In this version, Cinderella is a nickname later given to Ella by her stepsisters. Ella (Lily James) is shown as a young, happy child who gets her kindness and curiosity from her mother.

In this film, we see her mother and father die and watch the transition as her stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters (Sophia McShera and Holliday Grainger) slowly take over her beloved home.

James exudes sweetness in her role and has a smile that captures the awe Ella experiences as her life changes dramatically. From the second Blanchett spoke, there was no doubt she was the stepmother; in fact, she sounded eerily similar to what I remember the animated version to sound like.

While Helena Bonham Carter only made a brief appearance as the Fairy Godmother, she made the movie more interesting. In her own quirky way, she made Ella’s transformation process more exciting and fast-paced.

One aspect I was not expecting from the movie was humor, with many laughs coming from the animals. While the mice did not have speaking voices, their mannerisms made it easy to decode what they were thinking and they were, of course, obsessed with cheese.

While the mice were turned into horses for the carriage, two lizards were made the footmen and a goose was the driver. This added a more visually interesting look to the movie and laughs as the goose expressed his worries immediately after being turned: “I’m a goose; I can’t drive!”

As a child, I was particularly unimpressed by Prince Charming, but this adaptation changes all of those feelings. Known as Kit (Richard Madden), the prince has much more depth to his character. We see the love he has for his ill father and I appreciate that he is not just moved by Ella’s beauty, but by her heart.

Ella is stronger than the original Cinderella in that she works every day to follow the mantra her mother left her with: “Have courage and be kind.” It is clear that Kit is also a kind person at heart, and I like that this movie celebrates the goodness within.

The scenes with Ella and Kit are also delightfully charming as they perfectly capture the romance of young love.

The dance scene is much more impressive as Ella and Kit’s expressions are that of genuine excitement. While all eyes are on the couple, keep an eye on the other party guests, too. I thought I caught a quick glance of women dressed inspired by other Disney princesses, such as Tiana and Belle.

The sets, décor and costumes are inspired by 19th or 18th century design and along with the color and occasional sparkle, make for a charming look. The only out-of-place costumes seem to be that of the stepmother and stepsisters. Blanchett’s look seems to be more 1940s-inspired at times and the stepsisters’ outfits seem overly garish.

“Cinderella” is a movie that can be enjoyed by children and adults both new to and familiar to the story.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 16th, 2015 and is filed under A&E. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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