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Title: Cinderella

Movie: :4stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :4.5stars:
Extras: :2stars:

HTS Overall Score:88

“Cinderella” is the third of Disney’s attempts of recreating the animated classics into live action adventures. Following the poor attempt with Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” and the semi decent “Maleficent”, “Cinderella” proves that the third times is the charm, with a sweet and endearing companion piece to the original animated feature film. I won’t say that this adaptation by Kenneth Branagh is 100% perfect, but it hits 95% of the right notes to work properly. The characters are all images of their animated counterparts, just with slight tweaks and adjustments here or there that expand their intentions and even add some subplots (some of which are helpful and others that seem a bit superfluous all things considered). Delightful and charming, “Cinderella” manages to be the first live action reimagining of classic animated material that I can whole heartedly recommend to Disney fans of old.

The basic story has certainly be kept intact. Ella (Lily James) is left with only her father (Ben Chaplin) to support her after the untimely death of her birth mother (Hayley Atwell), only to be stuck with something much worse when her father marries a cruel and aristocratic lady with 2 young daughters. Soon after his marriage, Ella’s father dies as well, leaving Ella under the iron grip of her new stepmother (Cate Blanchett). Abused and kicked about like garbage, Ella somehow manages to keep a level head and her kind demeanor never fails her. Even when the stupid and moronic stepsisters rename her “Cinderella” thanks to all the soot and cinders on her body from the long hours of working, the young girl remains at peace with her situation, making friends with the little animals around her.

Life changes dramatically one day, when Cinderella comes across a young man in a hunting party. Unbeknownst to her, the young man is actually the prince of the kingdom (played by Richard Madden). Enamored by the beautiful maiden, Prince charming throws a ball that includes the WHOLE of the kingdom in hopes that he might bring her back into his life. While the original tale just had Cinderella going to the ball and leaving the prince in shambles, but this time we have some political machinations going on behind the scene. The Prince is supposed to marry a princess, but his heart belongs to a commoner, and this does not sit well with his father or the Grand Duke (Stellan Skarsgard), who has actually promised the prince’s hand in marriage to a foreign princess. The Grand Duke realizes that his plans are going to be dashed if the prince marries for love, and does everything he can to make sure that the girl who fits the glass slipper left behind at the ball is NOT found. This includes some collaboration work with the evil stepmother in an effort to keep Ella from realizing her potential and ruining all of their plans.

I have to admit that I was MORE than pleased with the results of Branagh’s “Cinderella”. The additions mostly worked and the reimagining of certain points blended well with the more realistic approach. We don’t have any TALKING mice (even though the mice are there, Gus Gus and all) or Bippidy Boppidy boo singing fairy godmothers, but the essence is still there. The inclusion of Helena Bonham Carter was a bit worrisome, as I find her performances very hammy, but the exclusion of Tim Burton’s influence helped quite a bit. Helena was cute and a wee bit goofy as the fairy godmother, but more sweet goofy than her usual over the top performances. Lily James as Cinderella was by far one of the best choices of the movie, playing Ella as a completely adorable and sweet character that just endears herself to the viewer with every line. The same goes for the stepsisters. Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger are IMPECCABLE as the completely revolting and hysterically stupid dolts that we know from the animated film. They’re such a weird mix of funny, pitiable and disgusting that you can’t help but love to watch them, even if you don’t love them at all.

There are a few downsides to the picture, though. Cate Blanchett did a solid job as the wicked stepmother, but there were some inconsistencies with her character. She was despicable and almost as cruel as the animated version, but the writers made a fatal mistake by trying to explain her cruelty and hatred. Telling a tale of WHY she got to the way she did in an effort to humanize her, the stepmother just felt a little stilted, as if they didn’t know whether to make her completely despicable, or whether she was a sympathetic villain. The other main issue I had with the movie was the inclusion of the Grand Duke and his plan. The political subtext with him trying his best to hide Cinderella from the prince was a bit unnecessary, as the Prince himself certainly had enough difficulty tracking down his soon to be bride in the animated film without having to resort to a SECOND villain. It wasn’t that it was bad, it was just that it was not really needed and felt shoehorned in.


Rated PG for mild thematic elements

Video :5stars:
This is a new release Disney movie, do I really need to say any more? To put it mildly, Disney really knows how to give the royal treatment to their day and date releases. “Cinderella” sits on the top of the heap with a marvelous Blu-ray transfer that dazzles at every turn. The first thing that pops into my mind is “oh my goodness, the COLORS”! There are colors EVERYWHERE, in every shade and brightness level. Richly saturated blues, greens, reds and every other color of the rainbow fills the screen in ways that many animated films would be jealous of. The period piece costumes are divine, with wonderfully nuanced levels of detail that only accentuates the sumptuous array of colors filling the screen (yes I’m harping colors, they are EVERYWHERE in this movie). Blacks are deep and inky as can possibly be, with no signs of crush or washing out. Digital artifacting is nowhere to be scene, leaving us with a sparkling clean digital image that screams perfect.

Audio :4.5stars:
The 7.1 DTS-HD MA track on board is just about as perfect as the video, letting us listen in to a truly beautiful audio experience. Dialog is crisp and perfectly legible at all times, balanced well with a robust musical score that lifts the track up to a wildly energetic experience. The surrounds are never bereft of action, with the thundering of horse’s hooves coming through loud and clear, along with the signing of our heroine and the little tiny sounds like cheeping mice and the rustling of leaves on a country road. Clarity is pristine, with pinpoint precision given to the directionality of the track, allowing the audio to shift from one side of the sound stage to another with ease. LFE is tight and deep, adding some impressive low end to the film, and in the case of the carriage transforming back into a pumpkin, and incredible low end attack that had my poor puppy diving under the bed at the intensity.

Extras :2stars:

• A Fairy Tale Comes to Life
• Costume Test Fun
• Staging the Ball
• Frozen Fever
• Ella's Furry Friends
• Alternate Opening

Overall: :4.5stars:

After my experiences with “Maleficent” and “Alice in Wonderland” I wasn’t expecting a while lot from “Cinderella”, but am thankful to say that my expectations were exceeded by the wonderful charm and energy from the film. It managed to capture the essence of what made the original animated film a classic, and acts as fun companion piece to the original. There’s a few mishaps along the way, but nothing that will really drag the story through the mud in an uncomfortable way, as have many reimagining’s in the last few years. The audio and video are nothing short of outstanding, with the only weak link in the whole package being the rather anemic extras. A wonderfully cute film with lots of rewatch value, I have to give “Cinderella” two thumbs up. Definitely recommended.

Additional Information:

Starring: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh
Written by: Chris Weitz
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish, French, Portuguese DD 5.1
Studio: Disney/Buena Vista
Rated: PG
Runtime: 105 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 15th 2015

Buy Cinderella On Blu-ray at Amazon

Recommendation: Recommended

More about Mike

2,072 Posts
Thanks for the review. We saw this movie in the theater and we all enjoyed it. I agree with you that Lily James as Cinderella was a great option for the directors. Very talented. We will get this for home viewing.

2,761 Posts
Thank you Mike for the review. We saw it at the theater and really enjoyed it. I already bought it and hope to watch it again with the family soon.
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