I’ve a confession.
I do love Disney films. A lot.
I’ve secretly been excited by the production of a live-action version of one of Disney’s classic animations – Cinderella, even more-so when I discovered it would be directed by Kenneth Branagh. I’ve always enjoyed his films, even with the relatively shoestring budget of his début ‘Henry V’, it had an epic feel to it – Branagh on a Disney budget would be a wonder to behold.
So when I had the chance to go this weekend, I couldn’t help myself but go like an over excitable child.
The premise is much the same of any Cinderella story, so, you won’t be surprised to hear of a wicked step-mother, ugly sisters, a fairy godmother and a handsome prince – not to mention an amazing dress and some killer shoes.
So our heroine, Ella, is played by Lily James – you’ll probably recognise her from Downton Abbey – she’s a relative unknown in Hollywood terms and makes a wonderful Cinderella. She’s got the innocence to be a ‘Disney Princess’ but the screen presence to keep you captivated, she plays her role wonderfully, a quiet and kind soul that carries the motto of the film – ‘have courage and be kind’ wonderfully.
I think my only irk was just how nipped in she was at the waist, I get the idea that a princess should be flawless, but I winced at just how tight her corset must have been! Still she possibly tops Princess Giselle (Amy Adams) from Enchanted, which – as a film I’ve watched A LOT – is an impressive feat! The casting is pretty much spot on, Cate Blanchett is a wonderful Wicked Stepmother, her piercing eyes do more acting than the rest of her face, and Richard Madden is a great Prince – a proper Disney vision of a prince – very dashing!
I loved (LOVED!) Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother – her screen time is less than 10 minutes, but she very nearly steals the whole film – looking very unlike herself and rocking a slightly dodgy pair of teeth, she had me grinning the whole time. Enjoy every second of her when you watch it!
I think special mention has to go to the ‘the dress’ – despite the empty cinema late on Sunday night – there were audible gasps (some from me) as Cinderella’s rags were transformed into something beautiful. The glass slippers were incredible too, I guess probably all rendered in CGI, but they looked real although I doubt glass shoes would ever be ‘more comfortable than they look’.
I think my only irk with the film was the casting of Cinder’s Dad – it’s a personal thing though – many people my age will remember Ben Chaplin as ‘Matthew’ from ‘Game On’ – I spent most of the time expecting him to shout ‘TEA MARTIN!’. He didn’t really ‘fit’ in the world of Disney to me. As I say – that’s probably just me!
It really is a wonderful film to watch, the sprawling landscapes, whilst no doubt generated in a computer look incredible, the long lingering shots across the King’s Castle really look wonderful. It’s a fairytale bought to life and whilst completely fictional, you’re somehow drawn in to this simple and wonderful make-believe time, and you forget the world for 105 minutes. I really enjoyed the film and think Disney fans of all ages should get something from it, I certainly loved every second!
Have courage and be kind
All images © 2014 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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