Cinderella Film Review

Film Review by Jon E Clist

The Premise
The story of "Cinderella" follows the fortunes of young Ella whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia and Drizella into the family home. But when Ella's father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella since she used to work in the cinders, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother's dying words and to "have courage and be kind." She will not give in to despair nor despise those who abuse her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an employee at the palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul.

The Review
Okay so as a 41 year old man, it would be easy to think that I am out of the target market for a film such as Cinderella, however I would beg to differ and it all comes down to the Disney factor. The Disney factor takes you back to your childhood and sitting around the massive television on a Sunday night to see the Disney Castle come one screen. This castle meant that it was family movie time, for us it meant things like toasties in front of the TV while we saw stories of VW Beetles called Herbie, or trouble-making twins or dogs with names like Lassie or Old Yellow. As a family, whether traditional, solo parent or whatever sort you were, it was through these films that we learnt to laugh and cry, cheer and mourn. So I guess this nostalgia is still very strong in the older crowds and serves us well when it is time to head out to the latest Disney films.

They have smashed it out of the park again with Cinderella. In the first trailer it kind of looked as though they might make a live action scene for scene remake of the original Disney animated film that we already know so well. Instead they have tastefully brought this story to the big screen with a wonderful cast, delicate script and really on one song. Don’t just take my word for it. Check out what our other reviewer Saskia has to say about it.

“Be prepared to leave your smirks and cynicism at the door if you want to enjoy this one. Director Kenneth Branagh fully embraces the idealistic melodrama that comes with a good dose of Disney. Branagh leaves the animated film’s story intact, but gives it new life with villains you can understand, a more believable relationship between Cinderella and the Prince and animals that don’t talk (but are extremely expressive).” -  Saskia Donnell

Now I know Branagh for his directing work on big tough things like Shakespeare and the more recent Jack Ryan; Shadow Recruit. So I would have guessed that he liked doing the darker, more serious type material and yet here he is making G-rated family magic with such a delicate touch. As mentioned before it would have been super easy for him to bring out all those classic songs from the animated version such as “Bibbity Bobbity Boo” and have everyone singing along. This would have been awesome for those who love that sort of thing, however one way to alienate a massive cinema going market is to make your film a musical. Again here’s what Saskia had to say…

“It took me awhile to realise no one was going to suddenly break into song and I was glad that was the case. The animals also didn’t speak, sew or sing which was a relief, but they still had an almost believable relationship with Cinderella. My only concern is that mice will become every young girl’s pet of choice after witnessing the very cute and personality-rich mice in Cinderella.”

Boy, do I agree with that. The animals are wonderful in the film because they are believable and fun to watch. (Even once the Fairy Godmother has turned them into human personifications of themselves, you can still see their animal characteristics in how they carry themselves and behave.) Of course this is the perfect moment to mention how understated and wonderful Helena Bonham Carter is in the role of Fairy Godmother. She is one of those actors who often brings such an extreme nature to her roles. Just think of her as the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland or as Marla Singer in Fight Club or Mrs Lovett in Sweeney Todd.

It is the whole cast that is good and thoroughly enjoyable to watch and it certainly seemed as though the kids in our screening were loving it. I guess it could be because there is a familiarity there between the cast that gives them a real chemistry. Lily James, who plays Cinderella, and Sophie McShera, who plays Drizella, both star alongside each other in Downton Abbey, however their roles are reversed: in Downton, McShera plays Daisy, the servant role, while James plays Lady Rose, the aristocrat. So it is nice to see them draw off each other here. Then there is an interesting connection between Lily James and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones’ Rob Stark). Lily James who plays Cinderella is girlfriend of Matt Smith (Former Doctor Who) in real life, while Madden (Prince Charming) is the boyfriend of Jenna Coleman who was Matt Smith's co-star. Talk about some fun connections, imagine that dinner party?

The Verdict
A feast for the eyes that is fit for all ages! Fun for the kids and romantically hopeful for the adults.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 26th March 2015
Rating: G
Duration: 113 minutes 
Genre:  Family
Starring: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden
Director: Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit)

The Extras
Director Kenneth Branagh and Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Ella's Fairy Godmother, had an affair and dated in the 1990s.

This film marks Kenneth Branagh's first collaboration with Walt Disney Pictures. Branagh also directed Thor, which was distributed by Paramount Pictures, but subsequently re-branded as a Disney film.

This film marks the reunion of director Kenneth Branagh with Stellan SkarsgÄrd (Thor), Helena Bonham Carter (Mary Shelley's Frankenstein) and Derek Jacobi (Henry V, Dead Again and Hamlet).