For the past five years, Disney has been focusing on remaking many of their classic films from the 1950’s into live action films for a modern audience. This trend began with Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and last years Maleficent, both films which were disasters but somehow managed to be box office successes. The latest in this line up of live action remakes is the classic Cinderella.
Directed by Kenneth Branagh and working from a script by Chris Weitz, this new adaptation of the classic fairytale centres on a young woman, Ella (Lily James) left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother (Cate Blanchett) following the death of her father. Ella’s live is forever changed by a chance meeting in the forest with a man who calls himself Kit (Richard Madden), who as it turns out in the Prince of her land. When the gates of the castle are open for a grand ball and all the land maidens, be they noble or common, are allowed to attend, and Ella is made the star of the night curtsey of her Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter).
Unlike previous live action remakes, Maleficent being the main culprit here, Branagh’s film remains faithful to the original tale and sticks to the original story rather than try adapting it into something completely different. Branagh brings the fairytale to life with excellent direction and brings a Shakespearian feel to the film with the look of Branagh’s previous epics Hamelt and Much Ado About Nothing. This is defiantly on of Branagh’s best directing jobs in the past few years, especially considering he was a last minute replacement for Mark Romanek, who left due to ‘creative differences’.
The films cast is fabulous, Downtown Abby’s Lily James is a perfect choice for Ella, her smile simply lights up the screen as she tries her best to be good and kind to all she meets, including the animals that live on her farm. The origin of her title name, Cinderella is actually a cruel nickname bestowed upon her by her idiotic stepsisters because one morning she has ash from the dying cinders of the fireplace where she spends most of her nights. Richard Madden who is most familiar to audiences as Robb Stark from HBO’s Game of Thrones is perfect as the Prince and he is definatly set to have the ladies swooning.
The rest of the cast which includes Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera as Ella’s stepsisters, Stellan Starsgard as the Grand Duke, Nonso Anozie as the Captain and Derek Jacobi as the king are all fantastic and fit well into their roles, but this film belongs Cate Blanchett, who is perfectly cast as the vile Lady Tremaine. From the moment she enters to her final scene, Blanchett dominates the screen as she and gives quite possibly the best performance since Scorsese’s The Aviator. Helena Bonham Carter also shines as Ella’s Fairy Gdmother and is finally given a role that isn’t an wacky oddball.
The film is not without it’s faults, but these are minor as the film is an absolute delight to watch and will be as well remembered as the original 1950’s film. Whilst this is a film that is primarily targeted at a female audience, it is a film that can be enjoyed by the entire family. The film is accompanied by the new short, Frozen Fever which offers a bit of a laugh but is really only for the fans of the film who are eagerly awaiting for the sequel which has just been announced for release sometime within the next few years.
Cinderella is a beautifully made film with fantastic performances and directed by one of the great British directors of the past 30 years.
Review written by Christopher Innis