Review: Cinderella – “A missed opportunity for greatness”

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CINDERELLA

It’s well crafted… But it feels like a missed opportunity for greatness.

Cinderella is, of course on of the classic examples of an older
tale codified by Disney. The tale was darker before and darker still
before that but that couldn’t matter less. Cinderella is, as far as
society is concerned, Disney’s classic classic. Theirs to reinvent when
the time came.
This 2015 version unfortunately isn’t a reinvention. As a film it’s
a perfectly executed translation of cartoon to live action, but Disney,
terrified of taking the risks that made Alice in Wonderland the 17th highest grossing film of all time, play it as safe and you could possibly play it. In the process that robs, robs,   the film of any of it’s potential.
One of the things that is surprisingly difficult to work out is the
indented audience – I have goddaughters who would have fallen apart
with glee at the ballroom scenes, but the attention span needed to get
there is a trek for me and I’m not seven years old.  Every couple of
scenes there’s a hint that someone wanted it to be a musical, and that’s
the film in a nutshell – it feels like a musical without the songs.Branagh
doesn’t do anything by accident – you feel that he has decided that if
he’s making something safe he’s making something beautiful and to hell
with the box office. So what you get is a slow paced festival of
fabulously constructed shots and amazing costumes, with the set
decorator showing much more creativity than the script.
…and the script is… Okay.  The problem being that there are so few
risks taken that it feels like a collection of missed opportunities.
The script does at least give Prince Charming a much more fleshed
out role, and while he’s still a tiny amount of screen time I’ll admit
that one of his scenes with his father moved me to tears. Still more
would have been better though – he doesn’t exist before the midpoint of
the movie.  More to the point, Richard Madden manages to play a prince without coming across badly and that’s a difficult trick for any money.
The biggest sin is the wasting of Cate Blanchett
as the evil stepmother. She’s given a minor amount of development later
on but the early scenes are cartoonishly evil. Giving her an even
slightly more nuanced character would have worked wonders, and given the
film a serious boost. The step-sisters manage to be too comic to be a
threat and nowhere near comic enough for comic relief.
The cast is actually very solid just massively underused by the script.  Lily James is a beautiful, charming, elegant and likeable heroine who, although not stretched is at least used well. Helena Bonham Carter
as the fairy godmother is show stealing by dint of channelling both
Jennifer Saunders and Johnny Depp, but it’s not a difficult show to
steal. More to the point, it’s difficult to watch her as adult without
thinking of her iconic “You know, the condom is the glass slipper of our
generation. You slip it on when you meet a stranger. You dance all
night, then you throw it away.” from Fight Club.
The best thing about the cinema trip to see Cinderella is also the worst. It’s packaged with the seven minute Frozen Fever,
which has all of Frozen’s Magic. It’s cute, fun, stylish, funny, and
solid. So you see a solid example of Disney at it’s very best before
being dropped into Disney at it’s most risk averse.

| Live for Films

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