Movie Review: Disney’s Cinderella is back in expert form

Overall Rating: 4/5

Movie Review: Disney’s Cinderella is back in expert form
Kerr Street Cafe
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About the Author

Nicholas Olsen

Nicholas Olsen

Nicholas Olsen is a journalism graduate from Sheridan College. He specializes in Arts & Entertainment reporting, feature writing and film reviews. Twitter: @ChiefcoOne

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Magic wands, gleaming glass shoes and impossibly elegant dresses glitter with pixie dust. A handsome prince is on the lookout for a companion; beside him a dying king waits to see his son and kingdom secure. Not far away, an unfortunate girl becomes imprisoned by a gang of villainous women who pose as family. She remembers her beloved mother’s last words: “have courage and be kind” — and equips this lesson to help realize a destiny soaked in boundless possibilities. Words of wisdom guarded and engraved by a future Disney princess.

Director Kenneth Branagh has adapted the old texts to the screen before; from directing and starring in Hamlet (1996) to bringing the famous thunder god back in 2011 with Thor, his Cinderella redux is expertly orchestrated and all-around delightful.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

We know the narrative. Ella’s father dies from an illness while travelling and she is left alone with a diabolical stepmother and two dimwitted stepsisters. They force her to clean, serve and shine shoes. But Ella doesn’t leave home or complain; she remains courageous and kind — remembering that her mother and father reside there in spirit.

Cinderella is reminiscent of the animated Disney classic, not unlike a soothing nostalgic dream. It harkens back to a time when simple fairy tales could be told without feeling self absorbed or needlessly quirky. Branagh’s effort is free of sassy ice princesses and it’s certainly not a musical. The only singing moment comes late, a whimsical vocal performance by Lily James as she tries to remain cheerful in forced hiding.

Oscar-winning costume designer Sandy Powell dresses the stars elegantly, Ella’s massive blue gown explodes on screen with iconic sophistication and illustrious character — flowing over her glass heels and captivating every soul at the royal ball. James stays true to the character by emanating cordiality and grace like an authentic royal princess.

Game of Thrones star Richard Madden has some fantasy discipline under his belt and brings allure to the Prince Charming archetype.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

Cate Blanchett is a powerhouse as the treacherous Lady Tremaine. Her talent burns red hot as she spews venom at Ella, batting an eye at any form of kindness. Comparable to her recent performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine — Blanchett seems right at home portraying tyrannical women who silently drown themselves in self pity and vapid jealously.

Chris Weitz’s script is poetic; characters speak in otherworldly tongue and seem as magical as the kingdom they live in, a treat to accompany Branagh’s wonderfully shot and edited visuals — which remain down to earth with just a splash of CGI. It all makes for a great time at the movies, safe yet beautifully crafted. There are no surprises. The Cinderella story is back, and it’s as timeless and enchanting as ever.

Cinderella opened last night and is showing locally at Film.ca.

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