I’ll admit that I wasn’t sure if Disney was making the right choice when they started making live-action motion pictures based on the animated classics from their long-standing library. I originally thought they should simply leave the classics alone, and really, why bother making a live-action version? It’s easy to see that I was wrong. Alongside Maleficent, this is the second consecutive live-action remake that I’ve absolutely enjoyed and gives promise to the future projects that are lined up.
Disney took a different approach with the Maleficent remake as it was a new perspective on the old story. For Cinderella, they stayed more on track with the original, and I think with the slightly altered and amazing script, it was a perfect choice. This version of the “Cinderella” story, begins a little earlier than its animated predecessor. We get a new and more all-around look at Ella (later changed to ‘Cinder-ella’ by her ever-sadistic step sisters). We get some background on her loving parents and their relationship. They have a truly loving and caring family dynamic. As you might assume, something has to go wrong to change the family, and in this story, young Ella’s mother becomes very ill. After her mother’s death, her merchant father dies as well, and she is forced into a deplorable situation with Lady Tremaine, her cruel stepmother, and stepsisters.
Like the original, Cinderella is forced into a life of labor. She’s the caretaker of the entire estate and is treated poorly by Lady Tremaine and her stepsisters. It’s certainly uncomfortable to see someone treated poorly, but Ella remains mostly positive throughout. I’m sure you’ll appreciate the process of making the point to the audience about her difficult life without making it a totally depressing situation. This is especially true if you are watching with younger members of your family. We are also given some additional back-story and learn exactly what drives Lady Tremaine to behave so terribly.
Along with the script, one of the things that really helps to make Cinderella work is the casting. I’m not sure if they could have done any better than Lily James as the title character, Cate Blanchett plays an excellent wicked-stepmother (complete with wicked laugh!), Ben Chaplin plays Cinderella’s father while Hayley Atwell is Cinderella’s mother. The fairy godmother is a bit clueless and played wonderfully by Helena Bonham Carter. Of course, there were a couple of other roles that were needed including the evil stepsisters (Sophie McShera and Holliday Granger) and the prince (Richard Madden).
I’m not sure what you can say to describe the production design. It’s amazing in every way. The visuals in the movie are nothing short of amazing with the lavish costumes and fairy-tale landscapes. One of the things I had wondered about was how they could pull off some of the classic scenes without them feeling out of place. There are a lot of scenes in Cinderella that aren’t easy to fit into live action. Ella’s friendly mice are an example that comes to mind. And perhaps the most notable scene in the film, and probably nearly the favorite of everyone, is the transformation of Cinderella and the pumpkin turning into a carriage — they someone manage to make these scenes believable to the story and have added some humor and emotions to the scenes to really pull the audience in.
CAST: Cate Blanchett as Stepmother (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”), Lily James as Cinderella (TV’s “Downton Abbey”), Richard Madden (TV’s “Game of Thrones”) as Prince, Stellan Skarsgård (Marvel’s: “The Avengers,” “Thor”) as Grand Duke, Holliday Grainger (“Jane Eyre”) as Anastasia, Derek Jacobi (“The King’s Speech,” “Underworld: Evolution”) as King, and Helena Bonham Carter as Fairy Godmother (“Alice in Wonderland,” “The King’s Speech”),
PRODUCERS: David Baron (“Harry Potter” franchise), Simon Kinberg (“X-Men: Days of Future Past,” “Sherlock Holmes”), Allison Shearmur (“The Hunger Games,” “Power Rangers”)
DIRECTOR: Kenneth Branagh (“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” “Thor”)
COMPOSER: Patrick Doyle (“Brave,” “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”)
SCREENPLAY: Chris Weitz (“About a Boy,” “The Golden Compass”)
RELEASE DATES: September 15th, 2015
PRODUCTS: Digital HD/SD, Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA), Blu-ray Combo Pack, DVD,
BONUS: Digital HD/SD*, Blu-ray Combo Pack & Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA)
- A Fairy Tale Comes to Life Filmmakers and cast reflect on Cinderella’s enduring power, and the joys and challenges of bringing this iconic tale to life.
- Costume Test Fun See the work of Academy Award-winning® Costume Designer Sandy Powell (The Aviator, 2004) and share some lighthearted moments with the cast.
- Staging The Ball
- You’re invited behind the scenes for the making of the Palace Ball sequence, including its spectacular set, stunning costumes and more. It’s a lavish and massive undertaking…and a magical day on set.
- Ella’s Furry Friends
- Discover how the movie’s animal stars honed their memorable performances.
- Alternate Opening: Ella’s Childhood
- View moments from Ella’s idyllic childhood that do not appear in the movie. With an introduction by Director Kenneth Branagh.
- Frozen Fever It’s Anna’s birthday, and Elsa and Kristoff are determined to give her the best celebration ever – but when Elsa catches a cold, her powers may put more than just the party at risk.
*Digital bonus offerings may vary by retailer
- Deleted Scenes
With introduction by Kenneth Branagh
- Serving (0:56)
- The Mourning (4:24)
- Getting to Know You (2:00)
- The Search for Cinderella (1:14)
- Dear Kit (2:57)
- Ella’s Furry Friends
- Frozen Fever
FEATURE RUN TIME: Approximately 105 min
RATING: Feature Film: PG in U.S.; G in CE/CF
ASPECT RATIO: Blu-ray Feature Film = 1080p High Definition / 2.39:1
DVD Feature Film = 2.39:1
AUDIO: Blu-ray = 7.1 DTS
DVD = 5.1 Dolby
LANGUAGES: English, French & Spanish
SUBTITLES: English SDH, French & Spanish
Disclosure: We received a copy of this movie for review purposes. All opinions are our own.