Saturday, March 14, 2015

The new Cinderella is quite charming

Movie:  Cinderella

PG, 1 hour 45 minutes

Grade:  A

In a Nutshell:  In an era of movie remakes, this version of Cinderella by Director Kenneth Branagh is very simple, elegant, pure, and even old-fashioned, staying true to its original animation roots.  Walt Disney would have been very pleased.  So would the original author Charles Perrault. I loved it.

SPECIAL NOTE:  One of the best things about seeing this in the movie theater right now is the animated short that plays before the movie.  It’s called Frozen Fever and highlights your favorite characters from the Frozen movie!  It’s a cute singing number that features Anna’s birthday party.  Absolutely ADORABLE!

Uplifting Theme:
·         “Have courage and be kind.” – Cinderella’s dying mother’s wish for her.  This phrase is repeated so many times that it’s not a subtle theme, but a very clear one that even little children will be able to pick up on.
·         Inner beauty shines greater than outer beauty.
·         “Just because it’s done doesn’t mean what should be done.” - Ella
-    "Where there is kindness there is goodness and where there is goodness there is magic." - Ella

Things I liked:
·         That dress! Wow. We are sure to see dozens of little girls wearing miniature versions of Cinderella’s shimmering, blue ball gown  on our front door steps this year on Halloween, complete with butterflies and sparkles in the hair.  I thought it was clever to match the ball gowns with the personalities of the wearers, such as the tacky and garish stepsisters’ dresses contrasted with the beautiful, graceful one worn by Cinderella.  I also loved the Fairy Godmother’s whimsical dress with wings.
·         The word that describes the film itself, as well as the set designs is charming.
·         Cate Blanchett can do no wrong. I adore her in everything she does.  She is splendid in this role as Lady Tremaine and looks absolutely stunning in every outfit in every scene.  Her subtle expressions add depth and nuance to the wicked step-mother, but they don’t change the story, only enhance it just enough.
·         The mice and other CGI creatures look very real.  They provide some comic relief, but it is very understated and simple.   The narrator tells us that Ella “had very little in the way of friends…well, her friends were very little.”
·         The magical transformations of the creatures to footmen, coachman, etc  is wonderfully Disney.   The lizard footmen are kind of creepy looking, but I love that they had lizard teeth and kept a green eye shadow hue to remind us of their true nature.
·         Both Prince Charming (the handsome, blue-eyed Richard Madden with absolutely perfect teeth) and Cinderella are modest, wholesome, noble, and good.  That’s so refreshing in protagonists these days.
·         Cinderella shows such grace and poise even when confronted with cruelty.  SPOILER ALERT: I love it when she tells her wicked stepmother “I forgive you.”  Lily James is the perfect Cinderella, so kind and graceful.  I want to be her.  In real life, she's a mezzo-soprano and sings the classic Cinderella song "A Dream Is A Wish Your Heart Makes" at the end when credits are rolling.  How lovely.
·         I’m really glad this film didn’t show the ugly step-sisters getting their feet cut off to fit into the glass slipper like in the recent movie Into the Woods .  So gross.  Speaking of glass slipper….wow!  Gorgeous.  “And you’ll find them quite comfortable.”  - Fairy Godmother    
-     There are a few touching moments, including a very sweet one with the prince and his father that made me shed a tear. 

Things I didn’t like:
·          Helena Bonham Carter appeared too fake and quirky for this simple, elegant version of Cinderella.   While some would say she stole the show, I thought the humor seemed too forced and out of place.
·         Ella always wears the same blue dress to everything. Her ball gown is also blue.
·         It’s a bit slow-moving with very little action.
·         The interactions with Ella and Prince Charming were too short.  I wanted to see them together longer.
·         I was surprised that Prince Charming’s castle didn’t look like the Cinderella castle in Disneyland.

Funny lines:
·         “I can’t drive!  I’m a goose!.”  - Coachman

Interesting lines:
·         “I believe animals speak to us if only we have an ear to hear them.  That’s how we learn to care for them.” – Ella’s mother  (played by the lovely Hayley Atwell who you will see more of in Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man)
·         “Time passed. Pain turned to memory.”  - Narrator (Fairy Godmother)  True statement.
·         “I do love a happy ending, don’t you?” – Ella
·         “Kindness is free.”  - Ella
·         “This is, perhaps, the greatest risk we will take – to be seen for who we really are.” – Narrator/Fairy godmother
·         “Surely you have a right to your own heart.” – Ella
·         “It really was like a dream…better than a dream.” – Ella
·         “They’re all looking at you.  – Ella
“Believe me…they’re all looking at YOU!” – Prince Charming

·         “Names have power.”  - Narrator/Fairy Godmother
·         “Punctuality is the politeness of princes.”  - King

Tips for Parents:
·         There is nothing super scary or offensive.  This is a very safe movie for family viewing of all ages. 

·         No profanity.  You’ll hear “Gosh” and “my goodness” instead. I think the harshest sentence uttered is when the wicked Stepmother says “Do shut up” to her own daughter who sings terribly.

If you can't get enough of this great classic, you'll enjoy these:

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