Cinderella is the latest fairy tale to get the live action treatment in what appears to be a new trend for Disney. It really all started with the whimsical mishmash of "Enchanted." They then took on the story of "Sleeping Beauty" and added a little twist by telling the tale from the standpoint of the villain with "Maleficent." We'll soon be getting another reboot when "Beauty and the Beast" starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens hits theaters.
In “Cinderella,” young Ella (Lily James) finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters after her father unexpectedly dies. They reduce her to scullery maid. Despite her circumstances, she refuses to despair. An invitation to a palace ball gives Ella hope that she might reunite with the dashing stranger (Richard Madden) she met in the woods, but her stepmother prevents her from going. Help arrives in the form of a kindly beggar woman who has a magic touch for ordinary things.
Director Kenneth Branagh takes a more conservative approach to his live adaptation of “Cinderella.” He doesn't steer too far off from the original source material. You can tell he was fully dedicated to giving audiences a beautiful and magical viewing experience.
The entire cast of "Cinderella" really shines in regards to their individual performances. Lily James is perfectly cast as the down-trodden lead character who dreams of meeting her Prince again at a magnificent ball. Cate Blanchett revels in her evil ways as the wicked stepmother. Helena Bonham Carter shows up as the quirky Fairy Godmother, which should come as no surprise to anyone who's followed her career.
The Blu-ray edition of “Cinderella” offers plenty of bonus material for consumers. The “Frozen Fever” theatrical short headlines the special features. Three different featurettes are found that go behind-the-scenes of the movie. They explore Cinderella’s enduring power, the making of the Palace Ball sequence, and Ella’s furry friends. An alternate opening is included as well. The Digital Disney Movies Anywhere Download includes over 12 additional minutes of footage not seen in theaters. There’s even more exciting extras not listed here.
The movie is rated PG for mild thematic elements. There might be some scenes that could be too intense for younger viewers. I can’t recall anything happening onscreen, but there is talk about Cinderella’s mother dying. One action scene involving the coach turning back into a pumpkin on the way home from the ball might frighten tiny viewers, too.
"Cinderella" fills the screen with everything you would ever want from a live-action fairy tale movie. We get plenty of romance and drama to go around. On top of that, writer Chris Weitz added more action and magic to fluff things up a bit for the digital age. There were a few points where I felt like certain scenes were unnecessary or made the narrative more complicated than it needed to be. Regardless, fans of the Disney Princesses will love every minute of the film. That's all that really matters in the end anyhow.
"Cinderella" is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and as a Digital Download.