There has been a notorious trend of adapting fairy tales to the big screen in the form of live-action films in the last years but most of them have been negatively received by the people. Some of them tried to look too matured that the essence of what was once a colorful story was forgotten, such as Alice in Wonderland and Red Riding Hood. However, this time, Disney has changed that stigma by presenting, with Kenneth Branagh as the director, a live-action version of Cinderella that manages to keep the essence of a true fairytale while adding some new refreshing elements that make the experience heartwarming.
It’s still the same concept for the story. Ella (Lily James) was a young and generous girl whose life had no signs of sadness. One day, her mother passes away after reminding Ella to always “have courage and be kind”. Her beloved father, worried for Ella’s loneliness while he is away for business, marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), who moves in with her two daughters Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) and Drizella (Sophie McShera) to become Ella’s new family. In an unexpected turn of events, her father passes away during one of his travels, and she is forced to live by the abuse of her mean stepmother and sisters… until the fairytale magic will change her faith.
Everything so far might sound like everything we already know, but that’s just the beginning. It’s not the conventional girl that daydreams of his prince all the time or the love-at-first-sight kind of tale or other cheesy stuff. This time, both Cinderella and Prince Kit have some slightly convincing backstories that make us believe their love is genuine. Besides, the movie doesn’t revolve only about the love, but also around some other values, such as forgiveness and kindness that gives the movie a refreshing new look that is now more enjoyable for the whole family to watch, not only children, or, rather, girls. That promise of always being kind and courageous fairly plays a vital role for the story to feel different than the original 1950’s film while having its own fairytale magic.
Great merit is due to main actress, Lily James. Truthfully, there wasn’t a better choice to portray a Disney female protagonist than her, as she has all the charisma, kindness, grace and innocent look that her character requires. The way her emotions fluctuate from sadness to joy is quite adorable, actually. And the rest of the casting has a very decent job, too. Blanchett makes a terrific job at showing that despicable look towards Ella in a way that she manages to steal the show once she is in the screen. However, I have to give special credit to Grainger and McShera for their roles as Ella’s stepsisters. And it’s because they depict the dorky essence of their animated counterparts so well that watching them is utterly funny.
Most of the characters have their participation done right, yet, sadly, some of them are responsible for the only times the movie loses its flow and becomes boring. The director tried too much to give to the mice, Ella’s best friends, a lot of participation, but they end up being dully irrelevant for most of the flick, since they are (unintentionally) shown as nothing more than, well, mice, that the spectator might think Ella is a little crazy for talking with rodents when she is feeling down. Their only good moment is when they are transformed into white horses that will pull the magnificent carriage that was once a pumpkin, as the CGI is quite nice to watch in those few seconds. At least it’s good that they don’t appear all the time.
Alice 2010 missed the heart of a princess story and it made us think those live-action adaptations were unnecessary. Nonetheless, Maleficent was a remarkable and touching new look for the story. With Cinderella being its second success at bringing fairytales to live action films, Disney has confirmed that they are the most suitable candidates when it comes to magic tales. Other studios have tried to do the same with other well-known names (Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast) but, sometimes one thinks that they should let the experts do it, instead. Sure, this film might not be for everyone, but if you are the kind of folk who enjoys some of the Disney charm, trust me when I tell you that this movie is totally worth it.