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Cinderella Movie Review

Reviewed by on Mar 12, 2015
Rating: 4 Star Rating

Disney’s new live-action Cinderella sparkles with color, humor and nice performances by some great actors. Check Kidzworld’s review.

By: Lynn Barker

You really root for Ella, whose evil stepmom and sisters dub her “Cinder” Ella because they have turned the once well-off beauty into their slave. Sleeping by the fireplace to keep warm, one gets a few smudges. Determined to be courageous and kind, how long can Ella hang in?

Cinderella (Lily James) says goodbye to her fatherCinderella (Lily James) says goodbye to her fatherCourtesy of Disney

Happy Childhood Shattered

Young Ella (Lily James) lives in a very posh home with a very loving mom (Hayley Atwell) and successful traveling salesman dad (Ben Chaplin). When mom passes away, dad remarries and she’s a doozy! She is Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), obviously out for herself and her snobby daughters Anastasia (Holiday Grainger) and Drizella (“Downton Abbey’s” Sophie McShera). When dad also passes away while on a business trip, Ella is gradually pushed out of her room, her former life and relegated to the servant’s quarters when stepmom lets the help go.

Stepmom denies that Cinderella lives hereStepmom denies that Cinderella lives hereCourtesy of Disney

Meanwhile, At the Palace

A young, handsome prince (Richard Madden) called “Kit” by his dad the king (Derek Jacoby) is struggling with his ailing dad’s command that he marry soon and to royalty in order to secure his small nation and prepare to take the throne. While out riding/hunting in the woods, he meets Cinderella who has ridden there to escape her horrible life. She insists he not kill a beautiful deer and wins his heart before riding away not having given him her name.

The king tells Kit that he must marry a royalThe king tells Kit that he must marry a royalCourtesy of Disney

Can’t I Go?

Hoping to find the girl in the woods again, Kit asks the king to invite all of the maidens in the land whether rich or poor, to a grand ball where Kit will choose his bride. Of course, Stepmom is overly confident that one of her daughters will score. Ella, who can’t buy a new frock, re-designs her mom’s ball gown but is only laughed at.  Of course she can’t go. Ella is left alone at home and horribly sad.

Gaudy costumes for the ballGaudy costumes for the ballCourtesy of Disney

Fairy Godmother to the Rescue

Ella’s mom always believed in fairy godmothers and sure enough, Ella’s sadness summons hers (played by Helena Bonham Carter) and you know the rest; mice to horses, a pumpkin for a carriage, a duck for a driver and lizards as footmen. Oh, and glass slippers and an amazing, fluffy, sparkly blue ball gown and “Be home by the final stroke of midnight!”.

Fairy Godmother sends Cinderella to the ballFairy Godmother sends Cinderella to the ballCourtesy of Disney

The Ball, the Plot, the Search

Ella blows everyone away at the ball, especially the prince. They dance, they fall in love, and the glass slipper gets left on the steps. The prince starts searching for the wearer of the shoe while stepmom plots with an evil Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgard) to make sure that no matter who the price marries, she and her girls will be well off and Ella will get nowhere near that slipper! Will fate bypass all the evil plotting and give Ella her prince? What do you think?

Stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgard) plotStepmother (Cate Blanchett) and Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgard) plotCourtesy of Disney

Wrapping Up

With the exception of a little added evil plotting by stepmom and a palace official, the classic Disney Cinderella story remains intact in this live-action version so we get to see live-action versions of Gus Gus the adorable mouse and Lucifer the stalking cat. Watching animals turn into carriage drivers and footmen is a delight with modern CGI work that makes the after midnight race for home a mighty morphing delight.

She can't believe all this is realShe can't believe all this is realCourtesy of Disney

Lily James makes a very sympathetic Cinderella and she and prince actor Richard Madden do actually seem to be falling in love. Ella takes the horrible demotion to lowliest maid after her dad dies with grace and a smile on her face but it’s a really long time before she speaks up for herself. In modern times, you wish she would just say “No way! Get someone else to do your dirty work!”  But it is good that she doesn’t expect the prince to save her, telling him basically, “I’m poor, deal with it” so it all balances out.

Ella is beautiful even as a servantElla is beautiful even as a servantCourtesy of Disney

Cate Blanchett does a great job as the greedy stepmom who lost everything before she married Ella’s dad and doesn’t intend to let it happen again. She portrays just the right combo of snark and pride without seeming one note. Stepsisters are silly more than evil. They are fun and clueless wonders. Helena Bonham Carter’s fairy godmother is just edgy enough to be cool. The message this time is advice to be courageous and kind no matter what is thrown your way and things should turn out okay.

Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter)Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter)Courtesy of Disney

Along with the film in theaters we get a fun expansion of the Frozen universe with Frozen Forever, a short animated film in which Anna’s frosty big sis Elsa and pals plan an extravaganza birthday party for her which turns silly/ugly when Elsa catches a bad cold and her many sneezes turn into….well, snot people (okay, it’s cuter than it sounds). Frozen fans will be delighted.

Elsa wakes birthday girl Anna in Frozen FeverElsa wakes birthday girl Anna in Frozen FeverCourtesy of Disney

Overall, although only a small attempt at modernizing the standard Cinderella tale is made, it’s enough for young audiences to identify with while still providing the familiar characters from childhood. We go 4 stars

Cinderella Movie Rating:4

Cinderella PosterCinderella PosterCourtesy of Disney

Cinderella is in theaters March 13th!