These days it is considered brave of film-makers to re-invent classic stories. Spinning an edgy, modern twist on tales has often proved fruitful. Whilst this approach has raked in cash, it is even rarer and braver of others to stick to traditional versions. Although having critics, director Kenneth Branagh knows how to handle rich mythologies which he does confidently with ‘Cinderella’. Based on the Charles Perrault fairy tale and the 1950 Walt Disney movie, it is refreshingly free of the cynicism that drags down similar films.
Ella (Eloise Webb) lives with her step-mother Lady Temaine (Cate Blanchett) and her daughters. Revelling in dire wickedness, Temaine treats Ella as a slave. Ella longs for an escape that she receives when her fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) appears. Turned into a divine belle dubbed Cinderella, Ella captures the attention of Prince Charming (Richard Madden). Events travel a tortuous path as the divine happy ending forever seems to escape Cinderella’s grasp.
‘Cinderella’ has an abundance of genuine charm. This doesn’t mean it’s a saccharine movie talking down to the audience. It is an all-ages production rich in visual splendour and solid acting. Branagh delivers a serviceable rendition of the well-known tale. With his directorial skills he successfully teases out the magical wonder embedded within adding to the colourful scope ‘Cinderella’ needs. It is complimented by sparkling CGI which never over-whelms the sense of enchantment permeating events.
‘Cinderella’ also succeeds due to some astute performances. Webb makes for a fetching damsel with Blanchett revelling in the haughty evil of her wicked character. Whilst some occasional over-acting is evident, most generally stick to ‘Cinderella’s spirit of earnest romanticism. The mix of humour and a little darkness ensure the story zips along at a briskly watchable rhythm.
It would have been easy for the makers of ‘Cinderella’ to brashly update its classic formula. The fact they didn’t speaks for their quest in crafting a suitably grand tribute to a durable fable.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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