REVIEW: Cinderella

After Alice In Wonderland, Disney is barreling along with live-action remakes of their classic tales.  While they showed us a progressive Cinderella in the fairytale mashup Into The Woods at Christmas, this story plays it straight and tells the classic Cinderella tale that we all know.  That sounds boring, but this adaptation is so sincere and heartfelt that you can’t help be won over by it.

cinderellaKenneth Branagh is no stranger to bringing new life to an old tale. Previously, the actor-director tackled Hamlet, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.  Here, Branagh infuses a lot of emotion into the Disney tale, but the strongest aspect is the visuals.  The costumes and sets are absolutely stunning.  It’s only March, but the Oscars should chalk up Production Design, Costume Design, and Best Hair and Makeup nominations for the film.   The colours and textures jump off the screen.  That’s not to say the actors don’t carry their weight.

Downton Abbey‘s Lily James proves to be a charming and commanding leading lady.  The role of Cinderella is a bit of a bland one-note character, and an actor can only do so much with it. It’s not the fun role. Mia Wasikowska faded into the background when she played Alice, as she had to contend with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter hamming it up, but that doesn’t happen to James.  Carter is here as the Fairy Godmother, and Cate Blanchett is devilishly good as the evil stepmother, but James holds her own and remains a strong presence.

Despite the audience knowing exactly what’s going to happen, the film manages to be compelling. That’s quite a feat.  We’ll see how these live-action adaptations proceed for Disney, but the slipper fits for this one.

Grade:  B

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