Movie Review –
I went into this, hoping for something more…grown-up in the way of a remake-retelling. Sort of how Maleficent was a remake-retelling of Sleeping Beauty; which I enjoyed a lot. BUT that is not what this was, to my great disappointment. I actually almost hated this movie after watching it the first time, because of that great disappointment, but I knew better than that, and after waiting a while, letting it sit and “digest”, I decided it was time to rewatch it and give it another chance with zero expectations. I wanted to give it a fair start, to try and give it a more fair review. Still was not that all into it and some my original thoughts in regards to certain things were still there. It wasn’t in the more serious and “realistic” vein of Ever After (starring Drew Barrymore, 1998) nor the cutesy, silly Ella Enchanted (starring Anne Hathaway, 2004). Ever After I have a fond spot in my heart for and still pull the dvd out once in a blue moon to watch. Ella Enchanted, I could at least mildy enjoy by getting a laugh at the humor sometimes and how it didn’t take itself too seriously. At times, Cinderella did seem to try to be those movies here and there. The way her father passed and his love was just for Ella and not the step-mother, wanting to go to the ball in her mother’s gown, as well as a snide remark from one the step-sisters to the other about being at the buffet table, were almost straight from Ever After. There were cutesy, tongue-in-cheek moments a couples times that were reminiscent of Ella Enchanted. This movie was neither of those.
I told you what it wasn’t. So let us push onwards with this review. WHAT this movie actually is: live action remake of the classic 1950s cartoon by Disney. Yes, there are some changes to the things here and there, but overall, it is pretty much a live action cartoon. The step-sisters are just as cartoonish as in the cartoon classic: with their monotone themed, garish outfits (one always yellow, other always pink), and their hateful, whiny voices constantly bickering at each other or mocking Ella. The step-mother…. Cate Blanchett is a lovely woman and a great actress, but this is not a good role for her. At times, she was serious and doing decent and then seemed to falter and turn into as much a cartoon as the step-sisters were; her wardrobe in the constant duotone of green (a sort of lime-avocado green) and black. I felt bad for Cate because it didn’t really feel like she was that into her role nor enjoying it. I don’t know, maybe I am wrong, but to me, it just felt off the entire movie. The mother and father were not around enough or given enough depth for me to feel any sort of attachment to them, so their passing’s meant nothing. The king probably had more screen time, and interacted nicely with the prince, so I did feel that bond and was actually saddened when he seemed to literally die the day after the ball. Oh, that’s another thing…it says weeks, and sometimes months, pass in some places, yet if the fairy godmother’s narrating wasn’t telling you that, you’d only think a couple days had passed sometimes. There wasn’t a way to tell the passage of time. Ella was in the same damn dress the entire movie, except when at the ball and that couple minutes in her mom’s dress before the ball. It only got a couple faint stains at the bottom. That also hurt with the passage of time and worked against it. For all the make-up talent and money to put into CGI, you’d think Disney would have put more effort into some places. Helena Bonham Carter seems to have gotten herself stuck into the typecast of the crazy, eccentric lunatic in recent years: the fairy godmother in this movie, Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland (2010), Bellatrix Lestrange of the Harry Potter series, etc. And it is really starting to get overworked. “Oh…hey…Look! It’s Helen! Doing…that same act…again….” As for the actress that plays Ella (Lily James), I really wasn’t feeling her either. I do not know if it was her or the role, because the character of Ella was almost a joke. Her mother told her to be kind and keep courage, as she lay dying. Yet, this movie makes it look like kindness equals letting people treat you like complete shit no matter what. It seems to want you to believe Ella is this strong, smart, amazing girl, but then it turns around and makes her seem as though she is emotionally (and sometime mentally) stuck at five or six. There is one part, where she’s in town with one the maids her stepmother fired, and they’re talking. The maid asks, “They treat you so bad, why do you not leave?” And Ella replies, “Because I made a promise to my mother and father that I’d cherish the place.” (Referring to their home) Maybe I missed something in the short….5 minutes they were around, but I do not recall that. I recall that her mother made her promise to be kind and keep courage, but that was about it. I could go on, because there are lots of other things that bugged me about the movie, but I will leave it at that.
If you are hoping for a remake-retelling in a vein similar to Maleficent, or even Alice in Wonderland (2010), or Ever After, or any others, then you will be disappointed. Do not watch this movie. NOW that’s not to say this movie is pure shit, or totally worthless. It does try on a few things and do okay. It tries to teach the lessons of being kind and having courage (though…. from an adult point-of-view, it failed hard at that, because most the movie seemed to say letting people be assholes to you is kindness; and she never really gathers the courage to tell her stepmom off, except at the end when she has the prince and his man to back her up). It also, at the end, as Ella and the prince face each other, and she’s about to try on the shoe, gave the lesson of being yourself and loving yourself as you are and loving others as they are…but that’s in the last 5 minutes of the film, so what could, AND SHOULD have been a lovely message to all kids, especially little girls in this day in age, is somewhat lost. If you are a parent, babysitter, grandparent, aunt/uncle, etc… with little ones about five or younger, who are REALLY into princesses and fairy tales and Disney cartoons, this is the perfect movie for them. Yes, it falls a bit short on the lessons it is trying to apparently teach, but it is innocent and cartoonish enough, that they’ll LOVE it.
Personal Rating, for my taste: 1 of 5 stars
Rating as something for parents of little ones that adore Disney and princesses: 4.5 of 5 stars
Article by: PyroluxAemilius of WoodBangers Entertainment
Our Rating based on 1-5 Stars: 1 of 5 stars
IMDB Info –
When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.
Taglines: Midnight is just the beginning.
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Writer: Chris Weitz (screenplay)
Plot or Story Line –
A girl named Ella (Cinderella) has the purest heart living in a cruel world filled with evil stepsisters and an evil stepmother out to ruin Ella’s life. Ella comes one with her pure heart when she meets the prince and dances her way to a better life with glass shoes, and a little help from her fairy godmother, of course.