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Disney Does Cinderella—Again

Cinderella-Lilly JamesThe Disney studio’s latest effort to reinvent one of its
animated classics as a live-action movie is sumptuously produced and
well-cast…but it bored me to tears. We don’t need a new rendition of Cinderella any more than we did a reboot
of Spider-Man. Of course, I’m not the
target demographic. I suppose kids deserve an opportunity to see this timeless
story on a theater screen; that’s the only case to be made for resuscitating such
timeworn material. Never mind the enduring 1950 Disney cartoon classic, or Drew
Barrymore’s Ever After, or Ella Enchanted with Anne Hathaway. In
today’s Hollywood, anything worth doing is worth doing again… and again…and
again.

Cinderella-richard madden-derek jacobi

Lily James, late of Downton
Abbey
, is a sweet and likable heroine. Cate Blanchett arches her eyebrows
expertly and stops just short of caricature as the wicked stepmother. Sophie
McShera and Holliday Grainger embody the self-centered stepsisters just as they
should. Richard Madden is a stalwart Prince Charming and, best of all, the
peerless Derek Jacobi adds poignancy to his characterization of an aging King. The
cast is fleshed out by other talented actors including Stellan Skarsgård, Nonso
Anozie, and Helena Bonham Carter,  as the
Fairy Godmother.

Screenwriter Chris Weitz has brought some new ideas to the
Charles Perrault story and borrowed more than a bit from the Disney cartoon, as
well, incorporating Cinderella’s mice friends, who are now rendered as CG
creatures. He has also managed to breathe life into potentially two-dimensional
characters and filled the script with graceful dialogue.

But it’s still Cinderella,
and anyone over the age of 10 knows the story all too well. Parents will be
happy to have a film they can take their kids to see, but they may have a
difficult time stifling a yawn; I know I did.

         

7 comments

  1. Greg F says:

    Wow…Id this the SAME Leonard Maltin who wrote the book that was my bible growing up? "The Disney Films" That fostered such a passion for film and story telling I ended up working nearly 30 years in animation? I’m surprised…finally a movie that actually was charming, well executed as well as acted that was gorgeous to look at without having a zillion layers of CG elements…I found it utterly charming and actually kind of rare ‘kindness as a super power’ when I could have so easily been some god awful post modernist – revisionist retelling…one of the best things to come out of Disney in years…

  2. Matthew Moran says:

    While I disagree with you, Leonard, I am sympathetic to your lack of enthusiasm towards the film. While I did love the movie, I know it’ll never stand up to the original, 1950, animated film.

  3. Gunnar says:

    everyone has their own opinions, but if you ask me, I’d stick with the 1950 animated Cinderella, it was so magical when I saw it as a child and it still is today, any other adaption of the story tries but fails, in my opinion, to get me feeling like a kid just like the 1950 animated adaption did

  4. Michael D says:

    This is a rare exception where I have to disagree. I found Cinderella enchanting. True, it’s a story we all know. But to me, I enjoyed that they didn’t mess with it too much, and I found it refreshing that it wasn’t filled with jokes to acknowledge the audience as some remakes have done. There were a few moments that went too far- The king’s death scene was over-the-top, and the pants on Kit were Spinal Tappian in their bulginess. But what kept occurring to me as the story played out– was this movie brought to the table everything that Into The Woods didn’t. It was a spectacle. It transported me to a world of fantastic imagination and I was wowed by the stunning visual effects– where Into The Woods left me feeling cheated.

  5. Christina S says:

    Just got home from seeing this amazing movie. I enjoyed it so much I almost turned around to watch it again!! FINALLY a movie that I don’t would be happy to have my daughter watch again and again. I so much enjoyed the character traits of a young lady who always makes the choice to have courage and be kind, no matter what everyone else is doing around them. I don’t buy movies but I will own this one and wear it out I am sure. It is anti-Frozen in so many ways and all the more reason why I love it. Well done!

  6. E. Hunter Hale says:

    My wife and I just came back from seeing and loving the film. Your review is right on except that it was NOT boring seeing this timeless tale of love brought to life with an excellent cast and just enough added depth to characters to make it work for people of all ages. Yes, the little princesses will love it but so will adults that respond to beautiful things done well.

  7. Jean-Pierre Thilges says:

    I’m surprised you were bored. Saw it at the Berlin Film Fest, where even (!) the German critics were charmed…I’m a great fan of the animated version, yes, but this one is pretty good in my book….

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