Since 2010, with the release of Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, Disney is remaking their classic films for the new generation. But, they don’t quite live up to their original source material. Last year’s Maleficent was a prime example losing of its focus. Even though it wasn’t bad, not to mention Angelina Jolie’s devilishly evil performance as the title role, it didn’t live up to the hype. Now in 2015, we get a new live-action rendition of the 1950 Disney classic Cinderella. What a delightful surprise! Director Kenneth Branagh (Thor) and screenwriter Chris Weitz capture the fairy tale with a few twists while keeping it old-fashioned and beautiful without overstuffing with CGI effects.
Because I hardly remember the Disney version (I might have seen it when I was really little), doesn’t mean I’m not familiar with the story. Following the death of her parents (Hayley Atwell and Ben Chaplin), Ella (Lily James, Downton Abbey) is forced to live with her evil stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and her stepsisters Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger). She endures the abuse from them (not to mention giving the name Cinderella) and she spends most of her time doing her chores around the house. She starts to lose hope until Kit, a prince (Richard Madden, Game of Thrones), announces to the public that he is holding a ball at his palace so he can have an ideal mate. This gives Cinderella the opportunity to meet the love of her dreams and fall in love. She loses her glass slipper at the palace, and…you know what happens next.
I didn’t expect Cinderella to be something spectacular. It’s not like Snow White and the Huntsman or Maleficent where it’s a much darker take on the source material. This is a much more faithful take on a whimsically beloved fairy tale. The cinematography is simply gorgeous, and the sets and costumes are ravishing. With a gifted cast including Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter (genuinely amusing as the Fairy Godmother), I cannot picture a better actress to play Cinderella other than Lily James. Not only is she drop-dead gorgeous, she also gives a lot of heart from the very beginning. A lot of people have been wondering if her waist was computer-generated while wearing the dress. Because the skirt is so big, her waist is actually that small. Lily James had to have a diet in order to fit in that dress. Gosh, does it look so good on her!?
Featuring a wonderful score by Patrick Doyle, Cinderella perfectly blends wit and emotion with the theme, as said by Cinderella’s mother early in the film, “Have courage and be kind.” This is the first great movie of 2015.