Cinderella Review: Not perfect but still enchanting

A beautiful and enchanting tale that never grows old.  Cinderella is a classic fairy tale following a girl named Ella (Lily James), who learns what it truly means to be kind to others despite what others have done. After her mother (Haley Atwell) passes, her father (Ben Chaplin) remarries and Ella’s family is whole again with her new stepmother, Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and her two step-sisters, Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger).  Unfortunately for Ella, her supposedly new family life falls apart when her father falls ill on a trip and passes on.  Lady Tremaine takes over the household, sending all the servants away and appointing Ella as the new ‘house-maid’.  While her daughters enjoy the life, Ella slaves away cleaning the house, washing the clothes and preparing food.  Having been treated unkindly, Ella leaves the house for a horse-ride where she meets the prince (Richard Madden).  Enchanted with the girl he met, the prince decides not to reveal his identity so as to be treated like a normal person; giving her his pet name, Kit, and telling her he was an apprentice at the palace.  However, Ella doesn’t reveal her identity, for fear that her stepmother would find out.  The chance meeting with Ella led the prince on a quest to find the girl who stole his heart.

“Who said I can’t do manual work!?” Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The next day, Ella hears the announcement in the market about a ball in the palace.  Hoping to see the ‘young apprentice’ again, Ella informs her stepmother and step-sisters.  The night of the ball, her step-sisters and stepmother got dressed to the nines while Ella wore her mother’s dress.  Unlike Ella’s innocent idea of going to the ball to meet someone else, Lady Tremaine ruined Ella’s dress and forbade her to go to the ball.  Overwhelmed by sadness, Ella runs out of the house and cries while debating if she could carry on ‘having courage and being kind’.  It was at this moment when she meets an old lady, who turns out to be her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter).  With the help of her fairy godmother, Ella is transformed into a princess for the night where she could have fun and enjoy the ball.  However, she had only until the last bell when it strikes midnight, where she would transform back to how she looked like before.  And as the story goes, Ella would leave the party at midnight, leaving behind a glass slipper for the prince.  Fallen totally in love with Ella, the prince sets out on a quest to find the owner of the glass slipper.  Despite the difficulty faced by Ella (coming from her stepmother and grand duke, played by Stellan Skarsgard), the prince eventually finds her and reunites with his love, where they wed happily ever after.

“Isn’t weird that we both played characters from TV too?” Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Being a sucker for fairytales, it’s no surprise that I enjoyed this movie immensely.  Even though Cinderella was never one of my favorite princesses, I always thought she was the classic princess.  I liked how despite this being a live-action movie, there were parts similar to the animation that they included – especially the pink dress she wore.  And might I add, I had no idea Agent Carter-wait, I mean Hayley Atwell could sing!

Lily James as Cinderella was a pretty good fit.  She wasn’t the ‘at all angles’ kind of pretty but she had the classic look Cinderella had.  Her portrayal of the gentle and kind nature of Ella instantly made me care for her character and basically become emotionally-attached to her (different from her Lady Rose character from Downton Abbey).  When she cried, I cried.  When she felt happy, I felt happy for her. I kinda felt like the human version of Gus-Gus.  She did a great job on a whole except for the scene when she had to show her sadness and disappointment about not going to the ball.  It felt a little unnatural to me when she sorta flung herself onto the side of the fountain and at the stairs to weep.  I know it is a cliche move to portray ‘weeping’ of that form in a movie, but do it right, it won’t look that bad. In Lily’s case, the way she did it made it look almost comical.  I had to actually stop myself from passing a sarcastic comment.  So, to the Beauty and the Beast production team, let’s try and not make Emma Watson do something like that, okay?

Without his Game of Thrones outfit, I must say.. Robb Stark-wait.. no.. Richard Madden embodies the spirit of a prince.  (And, it was surprising to see Xaro Xhoan Daxos- wait, no.. I mean Nonso Anozie as his Captain.)  Although it’s kinda a demotion from his King of the North, being a Disney prince is actually a step up.  I would like to point out that I do think his previous GoT experience kinda helped him with the character of the prince.  But!  I am not a fan of those tight, tight pants.

“Oh.. That’s a lot of stairs.” Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

A far cry from her days as Daisy in Downton Abbey, Sophie plays the step-sister, providing the laughs and horrible singing.  I thought both she and Holliday were wonderful as the step-sisters, with their bratty behavior and funny expressions.  Kudos to Holliday especially for her hilarious expression when she tried to squeeze her feet into the glass slipper.  Helena as the fairy godmother is as you would expect her to be.  Quirky, funny; Universe, I would like my fairy godmother to be like her please!  Cate Blanchett as the evil Lady Tremaine is one that I have to applaud.  Her controlled expressions and ability to make you hate and pity her at the same time made her the most well-played character of the movie.  The one thing I admired about Cate is her ability to convey the hate she had with just her eyes.

Despite this being a fairytale, I felt that there were certain parts of the movie which fit in with the modern world we are living in.  Like Helena’s voiceover said, we are all afraid to be seen for who we are.  That’s why we often hide behind our pretences.  Everyone of us are afraid of being rejected and when we’ve hidden ourselves long enough, it’s hard to separate the comfort of our masks.  I like to think that behind Lady Tremaine’s mask is a woman who hasn’t stopped grieving for the husbands she has lost; a woman who had felt that the world took too much for her, she needed to take back what she deserved.

All in all, Cinderella is a stunning movie to catch.  The visual is extremely wonderful (especially the transformation of Cinderella’s dress) and the cast is well-fit (despite it being a reunion of British TV actors).  Well done Disney, for your first of many live-action fairy tale films!




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