DIRECTED BY

Kenneth Branagh

 

STARRING

Lily James

Richard Madden

Cate Blanchett

Helena Bonham

Carter

Holliday Grainger

Sophie McShera

 

RATED

PG

 

RELEASED IN

2015

 

RUNNING TIME

1 Hr., 45 Mins.

Movie still from 2015's "Cinderella".

 Cinderella March 13, 2015 

Considering she's endured the wrath of Stepmommie Dearest, the quick-to-expire gifts of a bonkers fairy godmother, and the obsessions of a Prince Charming who'll back off even if you ask politely, it's a wonder that Cinderella is probably the nicest girl you’ll never meet. She seems on a mission to prove that nice guys may finish last but nice girls will gladly take the top spot.

 

Ever since Disney made her an icon 65 years ago, Cinderella’s appeal has hardly faded; she’s the rags-to-riches story made to delight little girls (and the general masses). Just because you have a stepmother with the vengeance of a Greek monster doesn’t mean you can’t eventually climb up onto the golden throne of the kingdom, sitting next to the spouse of your dreams.

 

That being said, this year’s live-action take on the classic fairy tale is neither an improvement nor a disappointment; it is faithful to its animated predecessor, retaining that same Disney magic while adding lavish decor and stunning costume design.  It wants to be a square, not a rebel without a cause, and that ultimately makes it feel safe, predictable, and long (a characteristic most likely heightened due to the fact that the original was a mere hour). 

 

But girls (elementary and under) will find plenty to dramatically gasp at (The dresses! Cinderella’s hair! The prince! The Castle! The …!), and fans of the original will nevertheless be astonished by the scope of it all.

 

You know the story: Cinderella’s (Lily James) parents die tragically.  She endures years of slaving away to the rhythms of her conniving stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and birdbrained stepsisters (Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera). She is glammed-up by her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) so she is fit to go to the kingdom’s prim-and-proper ball.  She rides over in a carriage made of a reject pumpkin, meets (and steals of the heart of) a prince, loses a precious glass slipper in a breathy exit, goes back home at the stroke of midnight, is pursued by the prince, and, eventually, lives happily ever after as queen of the kingdom.

 

I walked out of Cinderella with my expectations unmoved.  It’s exactly what you think it will be: a live-action version of Cinderella. Only Blanchett is Lady Tremaine, Carter calls dibs on bippity-bopitity-booing a high paycheck in trade of narration and spell casting, and the budget is skyrocketed to Ben-Hur levels.  Everything looks incredible, but the film is lacking in personality (James is slightly creaky and Blanchett isn’t given nearly enough scenery to chew), and that’s why I still prefer the animated take. Short, sweet, and unavoidably magical, it was simple enough to attract even the youngest of viewers while proving to be lustrous enough to keep fresh for over half-a-century.

 

This 2015 version is maybe a little too eager to earn some dough, but don’t let that stop you. The excitement of a princess-adoring tyke can only be resisted for so long, after all. B