• Bibbidi Bobbidi ReBOOt! A review of CINDERELLA

    CINDERELLA will not have trouble finding an audience. The newest Disney reimaginging of an animated-feature to live-action film is another successful translation.

    This is certainly promising considering the continued trend with upcoming pictures such as The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast which are already in production and the freshly-announced Dumbo reboot under the tutelage of Tim Burton.

    While the 1951 animated Cinderella remains a personal favorite from the classic Disney animated vault, the same cannot really be said about the new film. That’s not to say it is bad, in fact, it’s quite good. It’s just not... great.

    Perhaps CINDERELLA had big slippers to fill?

    To its greatest strength, the new adaptation addresses some of the more antiquated story points from the original feature. First of all, the story is a touch more realistic approach than its animated counterpart. Well, as realistic as a glass-shoe-wearing country-bumpkin in a pimp-my-pumpkin carriage could possibly be at least.

    The new adaptation remains fairly true in its essence to the animated version and some of the stronger modifications to the story include Cinderella’s relationship to the prince which although still somewhat forced isn’t quite as random as just dancing the night away at the ball. In this story, she has history with her princely gentleman caller--a small history, but at least it sets up SOME precedence for falling in love so hastily.

    The biggest change for Cinderella’s development in this story was not that being a pretty house maiden would be your key to happiness but that always being KIND and GOOD is the secret to success. This point is driven home several times; almost as if Disney were trying to avoid people making the connection of the original stories somewhat superficial tendencies.

    And while we chime in on the non-superficial slant to the approach, we would be remiss to not say that Lily James as the titular princess is simply beautiful. Fans of Downton Abbey will no doubt find her perfectly well-suited to this role. She has the grace suitable for a princess but the charm of a girl for whom you want to root. She succeeds in bringing the character to life and she is paired equally well with Richard Madden as a prince with a conscience and a suitable backstory development.

    Even Helena Bonham Carter services the role of Fairy Godmother quite well. Her tendency to stand out too strongly as a scene stealer did not manifest here. Her bubbly forgetful portrayal of the character was well-balanced and fit the story perfectly without being overbearing.

    Perhaps the smartest change to the story was with how they handled the quest to find the maiden that fits the glass slipper. To the hard-set realists this is the most vapid point of the general Cinderella fairy tale, how could the prince not set out to find the princess and recognizer her face? Is a slipper REALLY the only way he’d know how to find her?

    Certainly not. And the way this is handled is smart. The premise for the shoe quest ties into the biggest twist in the story and the unexpected change to villainy of one of the animated film’s most innocent characters.

    And still, despite the changes to the specifics of the story, it really rings true to the original story. Several times as I watched, I caught myself with the biggest smile on my face. Truly, the the whole spectacle is absolutely charming. It hits all the right spots from the story perspective and the set dressings and costumes are unique, vivid, and eye-catching.

    My biggest point of contention lies predominantly in the first act. There is a seemingly over-development of Cinderella’s relationship with her father (understandably, to help make Cinderella’s devastation more impactful to the audience) but the sorrow doesn’t hit as hard as it should despite the large mount of screen time.

    And so while there was OVER-development in one story facet, it was the direct result of UNDER-development in another. Most specifically, with the fantastic Cate Blanchett who brings the utmost pleasure in villainy to the uninspired role of the Wicked Stepmother. She is deliciously perfect and yet the contributions allowed to her through the story were frustratingly small.

    Aside from her gross under-utilization, every single one of her looks (created by Sandy Powell) is jaw-droppingly stunning. The decision to under-develop her robust character in the film comes as a huge detriment.

    Perhaps the most frustrating point of contention was the fact that it was not a musical. I will not bemoan the decision to NOT make this a musical but instead begrudgingly point out that while there's no major singing, the soundtrack for the feature includes two songs from the original film and they're sung BY the actual actors in the new film.

    As we sat through the credits we frustratingly sang along with Lily James singing "A Dream Is A Wish" and Helena Bonham Carter singing "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo." Now where is the logic there? They recorded the music, why not pop them in? At the very least Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo would not have felt out of place in as much as a peddlar turned fairy would be to begin with.

    You don’t need me or anyone else to try and sell you on this flick. You’re either going to want to see it or you’re going to want to avoid it at all costs. Luckily, those who DO want to see it should be completely satisfied with the cinematic experience. Conversely, those who suspect they should avoid the film will be well advised to stick to their reservations.

    CINDERELLA is a classic fairy tale story reimagined as a decent live-action picture. Whether or not it will stand the test of time is yet to be seen but the trend of rebooting animated films should very well continue to be a worthwhile venture for Disney as this film will undoubtedly follow in the steps of last year’s Maleficent as a decent reboot with broad commercial success.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. disney68's Avatar
      We saw Cinderella this morning and loved it. I agree they could have added the two songs in the movie and it would have fit in fine. I am very glad it was not a musical though. The Frozen short was really good too.
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