I took my two girls to see Disney’s new Cinderella movie this past weekend, and I’m not exaggerating when I say I loved the movie just as much, if not more, than they did. This is what I liked about it, in order of importance:
1. The character of Cinderella was portrayed with perfection. The acting by Lily James was spot on. She was the perfect blend of kindness, joyfulness, intelligence, and courage, just as Cinderella should be. Credit also goes to screenwriter, Chris Weitz and director, Kenneth Branagh for giving us a Cinderella that is true to the character from the classic animated movie version of Cinderella. I’m so glad they resisted the temptation to make her a modern-day macho heroin whose number one virtue is being tough as nails. Sure, Ms. Lily James is a beautiful Cinderella, but her outer beauty is really only icing on the cake here. What shines the most with this Cinderella, just as it was with the animated Cinderella, is how beautiful she is on the inside.
2. The story was well written, staying close enough to the animated version that it gave me the feeling of visiting an old friend for most of the movie. At the same time, there was enough new character development and story twists to keep me guessing.
3. All of the characters were well cast, and the acting was terrific. I’ve already mentioned Lily James, but also, Richard Madden was excellent as the Prince, while Cate Blanchett gave us a wicked Stepmother that rivals any of the great villains of our time. I will also include Helena Bonham Carter in this list, because she was perfect for her role as the Fairy Godmother. However, she got so little screen time, her talent seemed almost wasted. Her one scene was colorful and lots of fun, and then it was over. She was never to be seen again. It was her character who provided the narration, so I thought it would have been a nice touch to show her speaking towards the beginning and then again at the end. That would have made much better use of a very talented actress.
4. Great music. Great cinematography. Great special effects. The castle setting was amazing. The ballroom dance scenes were well very well done.
I give this newest installment of Cinderella a big STAR. Most of the credit goes to Walt Disney Pictures for keeping the heart of the story in tact and resisting the temptation to change it for modern audiences. Good job Disney. You’ve successfully made us all fall in love with Cinderella one more time.