The 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
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.