New Cinderella adds nothing new to the story

New Cinderella adds nothing new to the story


Title: Cinderella
Rating: F2
Short review: The live action remake of Walt Disney's beloved fairy tale offers sparse variation of the original and forces its themes too hardly for comfort.

Perhaps the most charming aspects of visiting one of the various Disney theme parks is getting the opportunity to meet the various characters in person. Sure, to an adult it is understood that they're just actors in costumes representing their cartoon incarnations, but the sheer delight of the setting and witnessing the exuberant level of delight on children's faces while they treat them like they're real make Disney live up to its reputation. Now that Disney has made the decision to adapt its beloved animated features to live action, you would expect similar results, but if efforts end like the recent release of Cinderella, then the famous studio has truly exhausted all of its charm and is lazily attempting to recapture lightning in a bottle.

Unlike previous efforts like Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent, which took inspiration from their previous animated films and either continued the story or told it from another perspective, Cinderella is a flat out remake of the original 1950 film with the same story beats, which is a given since the story is a famous fairy tale, and we all know how it ends.

Lily James eerily plays the title character with a Stepford wife personality, who keeps on grinning as she's left tending to her stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters (Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger), as she was told by her late mother (Hayley Atwell) to always have "courage and kindness." I'm fairly certain that Agent Carter also wanted her daughter to not be ignorant to apparent cruelness and not to be the pushover who's banished to the attic and given table scraps for dinner and talks to mice. Sure, the film states that she stays because it is her home and she doesn't want to leave behind her memories, but that's hardly an excuse to endure such torture on her end.

Instead of spending time developing more than one personality for the real-life cartoon characters, Disney apparently thinks that stretching out the original's run time with extra scenes is the same as making a better film.

One of these scenes is the first meeting of the Prince Charming love interest character (Richard Madden) — or Kit as he's called in this version — in which they encounter each other on horseback, a trope all too familiar in romances. This scene, along with others added to the film, proves to be most ineffective in their tasks, as the story works just as fine without them, which is why they weren't in the 1950 film in the first place.

Sticking close to the source also means more plot holes than the film can keep up with. There are attempts at brushing over some — such as "how Cinderella will not be recognized?" — by having her Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) wave her wand over her and say that no one will. However, if everything that she magically conjured up — from the coach made of a pumpkin and a modified dress — will revert back to their original state at the stroke of midnight, then how do the famous glass slippers remain? Why? Because then there's no way to resolve the story at the end, and it's a lot less effort to ignore than to resolve that one.

The madman behind this is Kenneth Branagh, whose theatrical sensibilities shine through a little too well in this piece. It would be appropriate for a Disney Broadway show, but this film adaptation is sorely missing the original's musical numbers, which strangely appear as the end credits music. It's best to keep them out entirely than creeping them back in at the end when everyone is getting up and leaving. It's going to be a shame if the next effort to adapt Beauty and the Beast into live action suffers a similar fate with its Academy Award winning music treated as mere filler.

As fairy tale material is taking a darker path in culture, it's a noble effort to see Disney attempt to keep its lighter incarnations alive. However, providing the same one-dimensional characterizations and storytelling is no way to carry on the legacy cinematically. Just let the kids watch the rerelease of the original or take them to Disneyland to see Cinderella and Price Charming for real.