Let me start off by saying I'm sorry for this review being a day late. I haven't been feeling well for the past couple of days and I didn't realize my review was due until it was too late and I still had a bit of writing to do. Next week, everything will be back on track. So Cinderella! One of the most famous fairy tales ever known. Some say it's sexist, other say it's empowering. The sexist part: a woman has to be saved. The empowering part: she survives through an abusive step-family and still manages to be a good person. I don't necessarily find this story sexist for the following reasons. 1. You have to think of the time period this takes place in. Women weren't exactly warriors or masters of the house as they are now. They didn't have child protective services either. Also, there's that whole "why doesn't she just leave?" Where is she gonna go? We don't know if she has any living relatives left or friends. Sure, she can leave and become a begger. 2. Cinderella's main intention was to go to the ball to have fun, NOT to primarily meet the prince. She had been a scullery maid for her step-family for years without a break, the ball was her one chance to feel more than she was. The fact that she met the prince and they fell in love was a bonus NOT the mission she intended. 3. Many people say "there are no fairy godmothers". I feel that the fairy godmother symbolizes good karma, that patience, kindness, and hard-work will eventually pay off. And that's the moral of the story: remain a good person, no matter your troubles, work had and one day you will receive your just reward. So, yes, I enjoy the story of Cinderella. I enjoyed the original animated Disney version in 1960. In 2015, we got the live action movie from Disney. How does it hold up? Let's take a look.
The good stuff: 1. The Characters/ Cast. The minor characters from the animated Disney movie FINALLY get a little spotlight...and more than 2 lines. Most notably, the Prince finally has a name, Kit, and actually has more than 2 scenes. He feels pressured about taking a wife before his father dies and is given the crown. He's charming (duh), witty, and likable. He's actually got a personality in this movie. Prince Kit is portrayed by Richard Madden who was also Robb Stark in Game of Thrones. Cate Blanchett as Lady Tremaine is absolutely amazing and steals every scene she's in. Her portrayal of the wicked stepmother is kinda different than the one from the original animated movie, but it's still interesting to watch. She's very manipulative and we see her becoming more cruel and condescending. She even has her own little backstory on how she became the woman she is now. Like Cinderella, she's a victim of loss, but unlike her, her heart grew dark and empty. The stepsisters are fun to watch. You hate them, but they're still strangely enjoyable. What's also shocking is how unattractive they looks in costume, but these actresses (Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera) are actually very beautiful in real life. Also want to add Nonso Anozie who played the Captain....who also played Xaro Xhoan Daxos in Game of Thrones lol.
2. The Sets and Cinematography. This movie is visually gorgeous! I have never seen the grass so green before. Everything just pops! It's all so colorful and bright. It feels like a fairytale, you know you're watching a fairytale movie. The sets are amazing to look at, especially the inside of the palace during the ball. From the lights to the intricate designs of the staircase and the carriage, it all just makes you say "wow". The camerawork helps in this case because you're able to enjoy the scene in front of you. You're able to see these beautiful sets and costumes and characters.
3. The CGI. The effects are great. Let's start with the animals. Most of these animals are all CGI, but (much like I said in my Jungle Book review) they are still realistic-looking and it makes sense for the mice to be completely CGI. If I were an actress, I'd pray for CGI nice than real ones. And the moments that really count are the magical effects. Just watching the pumpkin become a carriage, Cinderella's old dress become a beautiful gown, and making the glass slippers are just jaw-dropping good effects. Excellent job.
The not so good 1. Cinderella. Yup, ironically Cinderella isn't updated very well in "Cinderella". Lily James was a great casting choice and I definitely saw her as Cinderella. This is more of the writing's fault. She's way too optimistic and happy (stay with me). There are times where she should be upset and frustrated, but she's all smiles and bubbly instead. Ex: when she's locked up in the attic. In the animated Disney movie, Cinderella is distraught and so upset that she can't go down to try on the slipper to reveal herself. In this movie, she's singing and twirling and smiling and that's the major problem. She's not behaving correctly in such a situation. It's unrelatable. AND she could leave whenever she freakin wanted. They show that she has a friend or two (human friends) that would probably be happy enough to accommodate her. Again, in the animated movie, Cinderella was raised as a servant at a young age after the death of her father by her stepmother. So after so many years, she's in a mindset where she believes it's okay to be the servant. In this movie, Cinderella's father dies when she's already a young adult and then is manipulated into servitude. She knows it's not okay but her excuse is "this is my father's home, I don't want to leave." Get out of there!!! I'm also pretty sure that Cindy would inherit the damn place at that point. The Cinderella in this movie isn't as strong as the one in the animated movie. The animated Cinderella visibly showed her frustration, her sadness, she showed negative emotions in all the right situations. Did she try to make the best of a situation? Yes. Was she happy all the time? No. She got upset when she was locked in her room. She got mad at Lucifer when he messed up the floor she was cleaning. She scolded Bruno and Lucifer when they needed it. Point being: I'm not motivated enough to sympathize with the new Cinderella for not being a strong enough character.
2. The market scene. As said before, I do like the cinematography in this movie....except for the market scene. My god people, get out of the way!! In this scene, there are people blocking the shot that's supposed to be focused on Cinderella and her friend, but you can't even see them half the time. It's very distracting as well as annoying.
3. Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother. This is just not ideal casting. I like Helena Bonham Carter, but it's just strange seeing her in this role. Not to mention the "comedy" that comes in her role is more awkward rather than funny. The fairy godmother is supposed to display a motherly affection that Cinderella hasn't had in years, that much can be shown in many adaptations. Here, she's just there for a comedic appearance and move the plot along. I don't see the fairy godmother, I just see Helena Bonham Carter. Also, the part where she's disguised and has Cinderella perform an act of kindness to her before revealing her true self, I don't like it. Once again, the whole point of the fairy godmother appearing is to grant Cinderella's reward for YEARS of abuse, yet still remaining nice and compassionate. In this movie, the fairy godmother is rewarding her for giving her milk. So yeah, I don't like this iteration of the fairy godmother.
4) Some Nitpicks. For lack of a better-named category, I have a few Nitpicks. a) the parts when Lucifer gets hurt. It's funny when it happens in the animated version because it's...well, animated. It's not real. Like "Tom and Jerry", it's comedic when they get hurt because it's not real. But when you see an animal, real or realistic CGI, run into a wall head-on it's NOT funny because you fear for its health. You shudder at the thought of an animal being hurt like that. That being said, I wasn't amused at watching Lucifer the cat get hurt in this movie because of how real it looks. I'm more afraid that the cat has internal bleeding than I do about the mice when I saw that scene (and I don't think they have vets in that time period so he's kinda screwed). b) The opening scene with Ella's happy family. I get it, we're supposed to feel sorry for her when Ella's life spirals downwards...but dear god there is WAY too much happy in this family! Are they so happy that they fart rainbows? It's so cheery and sappy that you can practically smell the foreshadowing of sadness and death. I'm not saying, they shouldn't be happy, but just tone it down a couple notches. Not mention when her mother tells her that "fairy godmothers watch over us"...that's just coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs crazy. c) The Dress-ripping Scene. This is supposed to be the moment where Ella realizes she will never receive her step-family's love and acceptance, that she will never be more than a servant girl. That gets taken away by another scene: where Cinderella is no longer welcomed to eat at the same table as her step-family. It's a good scene and I understand that it leads up to meeting Kit, but the dress scene is where that moment is supposed to be. It's where she, for a moment, gives up hope. It's also supposed to be a mortifying scene. In the animated movie, it's fast editing and cuts give it the same feel as the shower scene in "Psycho". It gives you chills. It's a scene that's disturbing and heartbreaking. In THIS movie, you don't feel anything. It's a rip and tear here or there, nothing a little sewing can fix. It's SUPPOSED to be torn beyond repair and more cruel when they rip it. I don't feel any significance, any feeling, anything at all in this scene.
So what's the main conclusion? It's good. It's the same fairytale with better characters, better visuals, better scenes, but not a better Cinderella. The title character herself isn't strong or relatable. She's far too submissive. While I did enjoy the movie as a whole, I still wish the title character was more progressive. I still say watch it, it's a good movie. Also what do you want me to review next week? Something old? Something new? Something good? Something bad? Let me know in the comments. If I dont get any requests by Thursday, Ill just put something out. K? Fair? Goodie.