Disney making movies as a cash grab? Well, if the shoe fits.
“Cinderella” is the live action re-telling of the centuries old tale of a downtrodden commoner who, thanks to her beauty and a little bit of magic, ends up married to the Prince of the land. It’s the very definition and genesis of the rags to riches story, and follows the same basic plot that Disney’s animated version did when it came out 65 years ago. Which makes you wonder, is there really anything new enough here to make it worth another dance around the ballroom floor? Surprisingly enough, yeah, there really is.
I mean I will admit, if the movie does have a flaw it is in the fact that it feels like we already know this story by heart. There is so little here outside of the classical version of the tale that we can basically quote these lines even if it’s the first time we’ve seen it. And as such there are certainly moments that feel a bit too slow because we’ve seen them before. Disney obviously made the choice that they didn’t want a modernization, and they didn’t want a re-imagining (a la Maleficent). They wanted a full on, old school presentation of the classic story we know and love.
And you know what? As much as I tried to fight it, I think it actually works. I mean Cinderella is basically the genesis of the modern fairy tale, and so many others have played with variations over the years, that it’s refreshing to see Disney play it so classical. And it’s not as if there isn’t any new insight or movement in the story, They actually do a great job expanding the world to fit a few new moments and themes that still don’t distract from the classic story. Plus, I was really impressed by how the magical part of the story played in the live action. I thought it might be distracting or take away from the authenticity of the tale, but instead it fits perfectly and does nothing to hinder my buy in to this world. Oh and did I mention yet that it’s also really well made? The acting is wonderful with Cate Blanchett’s Wicked Stepmother role striking the perfect tone of bitterness and spite in a way that reminds us she is as much human as she is villian. And of course director Kenneth Brannagh’s shakespearean touch is perfect for this and you can feel that through his choices on pacing and story movement and the way he directed Lily James as Cinderella, allowing her indestructible joy and contentment to be an example of strength even in the worst of times. It was also fun to see Lily and Sophie McShera, who played one of the step sisters, play a little Downton Abbey role reversal, but maybe that’s just me.
Overall, Cinderella, is a refreshingly traditional approach to a classical story. Even if it’s a tale we all know, it’s told so well that it can’t help but run away from the ball with anything less than an A-