Another Disney animated classic gets the live-action treatment as, surprisingly soon after Into The Woods, we get another interpretation of Cinderella.
This time, the Mouse House is taking a more traditional approach by telling the story without updating it too much or adding too many surprises. Unlike last year's Maleficent which felt the need to turn one of the studio's most iconic and frightening villains into a misunderstood hero (urgh...), this Cinderella is basically a straight-up retelling. Minus the talking mice, though they do sort of talk throughout. While this means very little in the way of new elements to talk about, it's also somewhat refreshing to see a classic fairytale told without any forced irony or lame attempts at modernising a story as old as time itself. This is the Cinderella tale at its most earnest and, admittedly, this makes parts of it pretty darn corny and predictable. The opening 5 minutes where Ella's youth is so crazily happy all it's missing is an upbeat musical number and smiling cartoon deer is a tough watch. We also spend WAY too long admiring Cinderella's dress at the ball, frankly.
That's like 15 minutes of the movie right there!
Those glass shoes are pretty bitchin', though...
The story includes all the usual Disney clichés: dead or missing parents, an evil step-mother, a prince charming, cute little critters, fairy godmothers, lizard people... Cinderella is played by Lily James, who does a good job at bringing some personality to what could have been a completely bland character in the wrong hands. You do genuinely feel for the put-upon country girl whenever something rotten and unfair happens to her. Speaking of rotten and unfair, Ella's evil step-mother is played by Cate Blanchett who effortlessly steals the show by looking fabulous yet slowly revealing a truly bitter and awful personality. Helena Bonham-Carter's Fairy Godmother turns out to be a non-event, however, as her one scene is thrown in there real quick without any sort of character development. Who is she? What does she want? Who knows. She looks weird, has inconsistent magical powers and, in her spare time, looks like Yogurt from Spaceballs.
What else is there to know?
Whereas live-action Disney flicks like Alice In Wonderland or Snow White And The Huntsman at least visually felt rather unique and the directors working on those made a real attempt at putting their stylistic stamp on there, Kenneth Branagh doesn't seem to try all that hard to do that, delivering a surprisingly pedestrian movie which could have been directed by anyone. The humour throughout is below-par as most side characters are reduced to two-dimensional buffoons you'd see in a particularly unfocused panto. The special effects are, as a whole, uneven: the wide shots are fine but anything closer than that looks off. It's like Disney desperately wanted to make another animated Cinderella film but knew that the dough would roll in more with a live-action attempt so they quickly put together a heavily CGI-ed remake with little rhyme or reason.
All in all, Cinderella may not be the worst of the bunch when it comes to Disney live-action reboots but it still definitely struggles to be above average despite the impressive box-office profits. It has its moments, granted, but in the end there's just nothing about it that makes it a must-see.
An uneven retelling.
And as for that Frozen Fever short before it: man...
You might want to come purposely late to that screening.