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Three Views: Cinderella

March 13, 2015

Cinderella Poster

Cinderella – A Walt Disney Studios Release

Release Date: March 13th, 2015
Rated PG for mild thematic elements
Running Time: 105 minutes

Kenneth Branagh (director)

Chris Weitz (screenplay)

Patrick Doyle (music)

Lily James as Cinderella
Richard Madden as Prince
Cate Blanchett as Stepmother
Helena Bonham Carter as Fairy Godmother
Nonso Anozie as Captain
Stellan Skarsgård as Grand Duke
Sophie McShera as Drisella
Holliday Grainger as Anastasia
Derek Jacobi as King
Ben Chaplin as Ella’s Father
Hayley Atwell as Ella’s Mother
Rob Brydon as Master Phineus


Cinderella (Lily James) in Cinderella.

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Cinderella Review By John Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

A live action rendering of their beloved animated classic, Disney’s Cinderella is something special in its own right, working as both a lovely standalone film, and as a wonderful companion piece to the 1950 original.  Director Kenneth Branagh has done a beautiful job of bringing this fairy tale to life once again, delivering a sweeping and refreshingly old fashioned love story, that has the feel of a classic period piece.

I think we all know the story.  Ella (Lily James) is a modest and kindhearted country girl who loses both her parents at a young age, and is left to live with her evil stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), and tacky stepsisters Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger).  They relegate her to the attic, and force her to become their servant, but Ella’s life changes when she has a chance encounter with the charming Prince (Richard Madden), while riding through the woods.  Never one to lose hope, Ella becomes determined to reunite with him at the Royal Ball, with a little help from her eccentric Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter).

Lily James and Richard Madden have appropriately dreamy chemistry, and the attractive leads both add some nice depth to their roles.  Her Ella is heartfelt and relatable, making the character’s emotional journey all the more powerful, and he brings some genuine feeling to the prince.  Cate Blanchett breathes wicked life into the stepmother, and her portrayal is affectively cold and genuinely threatening.  Helena Bonham Carter does a fine job of narrating the story, and makes the most of her extended scene, with the big transformation sequence being one of the most visually captivating that the film has to offer.

Every element of this new Cinderella is beautiful, and even magical, to watch unfold.  The production design is glorious, and the impressively crafted sets are magnificent to behold, captured perfectly through sweeping and frequently awe-inspiring cinematography that lends itself well to being experienced on the big screen.  The music by Patrick Doyle is also quite lovely, a classic orchestral score that matches the grace of the images.  The costumes by designer Sandy Powell are simply breathtaking throughout, a selection of elegant and classy creations which are another one of the biggest draws of the film.

The screenplay by Chris Weitz is quite nicely written, and features some beautifully worded passages, updating the story just enough to feel current, while keeping all of the original charm intact.  Deeply romantic and also touching, with a lovely and sophisticated air around the entire production, Cinderella offers everything you could want from a Disney film.  This is a gorgeous live action fairy tale, that provides a wonderful and enchanting feast for both the eyes and the heart.

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Cinderella Review By Erin Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

The story of Cinderella has been a classic children have grown up with on screen since the 1950 Disney animated film. And this new live-action version also from Disney does not disappoint.  A faithful adaptation of the beloved story, Cinderella is a beautiful and charming film that captures the magic of the original and makes a nice compliment to it as well.

We all know the story.  Ella (Lily James) lives with her father until he dies and she is left alone with her stepmother (Cate Blanchett), and two stepsisters (Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger), who re-dub her Cinderella.  One day a ball is announced inviting all eligible young ladies to come out and meet the prince (Richard Madden) in hopes that he will select one of them to be his wife.  The stepsisters see this as their big chance, and Cinderella dreams of a change to her life as well.

In this particular version, the prince (who’s name is Kit) and Cinderella have already met by chance, and it is because of her that he creates an open invitation to the ball, in hopes of seeing her again.  While it is still very much Cinderella’s story, the fleshing out of the prince’s character is a welcome addition here, making Cinderella’s falling for him more believable.  In fact, both of them seem to see something in the other besides love at first sight.  As both feel stuck in the constraints of their lives, they relate to each other and genuinely seem to care what the other is thinking and feeling.

The costume design in the film is stunning, as is the art direction and set design.  The artistry that went into this film is clear, and with all the classic elements here, the transfer of the story to a grand live-action set piece has a smooth transition.  Lily James is utterly charming as Cinderella, as is Richard Madden as Prince Kit.  For fans of Disney and Cinderella, this is not one to be missed.  It is a beautiful, timeless film.

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Cinderella Review By Maureen Corrado

★★★½ (out of 4)

“Have courage and be kind.”  Wise words passed on by a dying mother to her gentle daughter.  Little did the mother (Hayley Atwell) know that her sweet daughter Ella (Lily James) would grow up to marry a prince (Richard Madden), after years of being a poor, mistreated servant girl.  Such is the storyline of a fairy tale, and Cinderella has always been one of my favourites.  Disney’s animated classic from 1950 is a hard act to follow.  Yet the studio has managed to give audiences a gorgeous and enchanting live action romance that will live on as a classy retelling of the Cinderella story.

The cinematography in this Cinderella is absolutely beautiful.  This is a classic period piece, with impeccable attention to detail.  Also visually stunning are the wonderful costumes by Sandy Powell.  Cinderella’s spectacular blue ball gown and her simply elegant wedding gown at the end are visual treats.  The other visual magic is the wonderful special effects of the adorable animated mice, and the magical transformation that Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) sparks with the wave of her wand on pumpkins, mice and lizards to begin Cinderella’s big night.

A classic fairy tale is nothing without the right leading characters.  Lily James is simply lovely as the kind and sweet Cinderella.  Her Prince, played by Richard Madden, feels like a suitable match.  A classic fairy tale also needs a strong villain, and Cate Blanchett is delightfully cold as Lady Tremaine, Cinderella’s mean stepmother.  Comic relief comes from the two stepsisters, Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holiday Grainger).

Told through a narrator at a relaxed pace, Cinderella stays true to the classic story.  Older fans who love romantic period pieces will find the film absolutely beautiful and charming.  But children under the age of eight, who are used to brightly coloured and faster-paced animation, will likely find this lovely film a little too slow moving.  Save this one for older kids and adults who love the story, and especially those who appreciate period pieces.  This Cinderella is enchantingly beautiful.

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Consensus: A faithful retelling of their beloved animated classic, Disney’s Cinderella is a gorgeous and enchanting live action fairy tale that is nicely carried by Lily James, with breathtaking production design and beautifully elegant costumes. ★★★½ (out of 4)

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