Cinderella (2015)

Cinderella movie review
Photo Credit: Cinderella / Walt Disney Studios
Cinderella has been reinvented numerous times. A story of a young girl whose parents passed away and is left to serve her wicked step-family. Banished from attending a grand ball held by the prince, a fairy godmother makes her dreams come true. Once again, the Disney company re-imagines their classic animated film into a live-action delight.

As the titular character, 25-year-old Lily James glides into center stage as Ella giving a wondrously charming performance. Being cast a role in a Disney film for a character of such an iconic reputation is like winning the Hollywood lottery. She's innocent and charming, but also a grounded fresh face offering delicate charisma. Holding onto her morals as the heroine, the British native brings a truthful, inner peace rare as the main character whose animated version has left a signature influence.

In trying not to compare the original Evil Stepmother to her version, it was hard to shake the former's chilling influence. Despite a lack of screentime in the 1951 classic, one gaze from that animated was mesmerizing and menacing.  In contrast to the wholehearted virtuous Ella, a contemptible heel can be feared with Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett). Abandoned with two brutish, spoiled daughters and a void of love by her deceased husbands, Blanchett becomes a spiteful and jealous villain. Tremaine is not evil just for evil's sake, but she did leave me wanting more wickedness.

Many movie-goers may be attracted to princess' stories because of our belief and hope in true love. The romance shared between Ella and Prince Charming (Richard Madden) is not superficial, like a two-second glance that escalates into rosy, perfect relationship to end all relationships. Instead, their courtship is rooted in his admiration and intrigue by her goodness and even a bit of her spunk. There is no rescuing by him from her tormented home life, but a doting bond which ends up with a heavenly finale.

This 2015 take gives a broader story not only on the young girls' upbringing but her counterparts in Charming and Tremaine. Left with a hopeful imprint by her mother to have courage and be kind, the story has depth as well as sincerity. It is easily a quality that could have been too sentimental to remain believable, but with the right director, the film is not too saccharine to be cheesy.

Director Kenneth Branagh creates a fine live-action adaption. For those who are a passionate fan of the 1951 original, there's enough to make this one stand on its own as well as pay a respectful homage. His production is vibrant bringing to life the characters and story many of us have grown up with. Even if we've all experienced happily ever afters before through film, here's another joyous escape into a world that is ultimately kind, courageous and utilizes a fair bit of magic to pull off.

Rating: ★★★
Have you seen Cinderella? What are your thoughts?

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