Welp, it’s time for Disney to undo all the good they were doing with Frozen instilling some independent Feminist mindset in young girls by reverting back to type and making an utterly generic princess movie where the princess gets pushed around a whole lot and doesn’t do squat to be taught that dreams do come true…hooray?
Plot-wise, this movie is the exact same thing as the animated feature film from 1950 (yes it’s that old). Only strip out the songs, take away all the personality from the mice and farm animals, and turn in a bland, uninteresting script to get decent actors try their damndest to do something, ANYTHING with this material. Mercifully, the actors use every drop of their charisma to elevate something that would have been terrible and have thus left us with something forgettable.
I hate to sound all curmudgeonly, but I have zero love for this movie. Not helping is the central “moral” of this movie is one must be “kind” and “courageous”. Words that are repeated over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over (gasp for breath) and over and over and over and over again. But they are words that are absolutely meaningless since the movie seems to think being “kind” and “courageous” is to be an absolute push-over.
Cinderella (or Ella as she’s initially called until her bratty step sisters add the Cinder to her name when she’s covered in ashes) does nothing through this whole movie but put on a weak smile as she’s degenerated into a slave maid by her stepmother, played by an over-the-top Cate Blanchett. I could not sympathize with Ella’s predicament because she does absolutely nothing to escape the tyranny of her step family. Ella’s only reasoning for not leaving her Stepmother is that her family home meant everything to her dead parents. Some would say that’s noble, but the lengths Ella has come to experience make her look silly on a good day and a victim of an abusive relationship any other day.
This is pretty much why I can’t stand the movie. Ella’s life only changes for the better through the actions of others, not her. She doesn’t change anyone’s life for the better, she doesn’t seek to escape her personal hell; she’s simply content to work in terrible conditions until her “prince charming” whisks her away to a different life or her Fairy Godmother (lazily played by Helena Bonham Carter) gives her a fancy dress, a carriage, and uncomfortable-looking glass slippers which she totally insists aren’t uncomfortable.
Okay, let’s take a break from ragging on the movie and let me offer a few compliments before I kick this movie out of my memory. The production design, musical score, and costumes are gorgeous in this movie, thanks to Kenneth Branaugh as always having a keen eye for elaborate Shakespearean sets. And I never saw an actor who wasn’t take this seriously throughout even with the lackluster script. Then there’s a few genuinely touching moments between the Prince (Game of Thrones’ Robb Stark not getting horribly murdered) and his father that made me give a tiny shred of sympathy for the Prince.
But alas, even with all these great ingredients, one of the most important pieces to a movie was overlooked: the script. Aside from being a direct copy of the 1950s cartoon with some thrown-in, go-nowhere subplot involving a planned marriage to secure the Kingdom’s future, there’s hardly any funny moments interwoven through this thing. The comedy is only given to us with some slapstick involving obviously computer-generated animals and I guarantee the slapstick was more interesting in the original animated movie than it was here.
And it didn’t have to be this way. Hell, I’ve seen films like Ella Enchanted and Ever After do something unique and fun with the Cinderella story that appealed to all ages. I’ve seen the Fables Comics that turned Cinderella into an international super-spy living in New York City. Simply making the 1950s cartoon into a live action version is not enough for me to recommend it to anyone.
In my experience at the theater, half the kids were squirming in their seats so they weren’t 100% on board with this. Parents just looked bored walking out as soon as the credits rolled. But I did see a few kids enjoy it so for them, that’s the only I group I can recommend this movie. As an adult, there’s nothing here for you to get excited about.
But on second thought, I can’t really recommend this to kids either. The central message to this movie is absolute crap at best, and subtly harmful at worst. And when I say harmful, I mean embracing a mentality that so long as you toil for days on end without complaint as people push you around, you will be rewarded with a happy ending. And that’s utter bullshit to tell a kid.
I won’t give this a Some Ol’ Bullshit thanks to the few bright moments I saw, but this is a low…
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