Cinderella (2015)


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So, Disney and their live-action remakes of their animated classics…

here we go again

Ever since they became popular, I’ve been staunchly against these remakes and thought that the first two of these films, Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent, were just horrible! Now, comes the third in the series, Cinderella, and they say third time’s a charm! Is this one any good? Will it change my views on these live-action Disney remakes? Let’s find out!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

The film opens to our protagonist when she’s a young girl, Cinderella Ella. She lives in a beautiful house with her parents, played by Ben Chaplin and Hayley Atwell. They have a wondrous life taking care of the farm animals, believing in magic, and just overall having a happy and positive outlook on life.

"Nothing can go wrong if everything is right and everything is right somehow!"
“Nothing can go wrong if everything is right and everything is right somehow!”

But, like all stories that seem to go well, tragedy soon strikes with the sudden illness and death of Ella’s mother.

"Nothing can go wrong as Mum is dead, Poor Ella's mum is dead, all gather round her coffin now and cry!"
“Nothing can go wrong as long…oh…um…Poor Mum is dead, Poor Ella’s mum is dead, all gather round her coffin now and cry!”

Ella and her father are heartbroken over this, but Ella remembers her mother’s advice to always have courage and be kind. Ella applies this mantra throughout the rest of her life which gives her and her father some happiness for years to come.

When Ella is now a young woman (played by Lily James), her father impresses upon her an idea that he has. He’s been seeking some companionship/happiness and is interested in marrying the widow of one of his friends, a certain Lady Tremaine. Ella wants her father to be happy and encourages him to go through with the marriage.

"I shall have a new wife and since we're a fairy tale, we'll all live happily ever after again!"
“I shall have a new wife and since we’re a fairy tale, we’ll all live happily ever after again!”

It’s not long before her father returns with Lady Tremaine, played by Cate Blanchett, and her daughters, Anastasia and Drisella, played by Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera, respectively.

We see at once that Lady Tremaine is a woman whose husband’s death has definitely affected her. As a result of her grief, she’s developed a sort of…shall we say, harshness? A certain level of…coldness? A feeling that she is so much better than Ella and her father? And it’s not just Lady Tremaine who displays such negative judgments; her daughters are no better.

"The house is quite lovely...then again, one mustn't learn to settle, must one?"
“The house is quite lovely…then again, one mustn’t learn to settle, must one?”

Despite their trying nature, Ella does her best to do all she can for her stepmother and stepsisters. Her father soon leaves on a business trip, so Ella has plenty of time to get more acquainted with her stepmother and stepsisters whereas Lady Tremaine wastes no time in laying her law down in the house.

She sort of forcibly convinces Ella that she should go live in the attic and give up her bedroom for her stepsisters. She persuades Ella to take much of the house’s old memorabilia that belonged to her late mother up in the attic with her. She insists that Ella shouldn’t call her “Stepmother”, but “Madam”. She gets Ella to take care of anything that needs fixing or tending to. Basically, Lady Tremaine soon becomes the mistress of the house and Ella becomes a mere servant.

It’s not long before we hear the news of the death of Ella’s father. As you can imagine, this hits Ella very hard and makes her extremely grief-stricken. Lady Tremaine, on the other hand, is also a bit shocked at losing a second husband, but is more worried about the financial upkeep of the house. As a result, she fires all the servants in the house and makes Ella the sole servant to take care of the house’s upkeep and all her and her daughters’ needs.

One thing this movie is missing is mice singing, "Cinderelly, Cinderelly, night and day it's Cinderelly...".
One thing this movie is missing is mice singing, “Cinderelly, Cinderelly, night and day it’s Cinderelly…”.

It’s not long before Ella’s situation causes her to get all dirty and earn the derogatory name of Cinder-Ella. All of these happenings just pushes Cinderella (whom I’ll now refer to as such) too far and she decides to run away. While entering the forest on horseback, she runs into the Prince, played by Richard Madden. The only thing is Cinderella doesn’t recognize the Prince, so the Prince doesn’t bother telling her. He introduces himself as Kit and says he’s a sort of apprentice at the castle learning to take over his father’s job.

"Yes, my father is getting along in years and is teaching me the tricks of his trade so that I may soon take over from him and learn how to rule...rule...rule out any bad form in my performance."
“Yes, my father is getting along in years and is teaching me the tricks of his trade so that I may soon take over from him and learn how to rule…rule…rule out any bad form in my performance.”

Cinderella is excited to meet Kit and the two hit it off really well. It’s through their talks that Cinderella is reminded of her mother’s words of being kind and having courage. She makes a decision to return back to the house and to her stepmother and stepsisters.

Meanwhile, the Prince heads back to the castle and is convinced that he wants to marry Cinderella. His father, the King, played by Derek Jacobi, wants his son to marry a princess instead of a common girl. They find a middle ground by deciding to host a ball wherein all the maidens in the realm can attend and the Prince will choose who he wants to marry. The Prince does this so that he can secretly see Cinderella (whose name he still doesn’t know) again and the King gets to have his desire of royal maidens attending the ball.

"Not sure if this is an advantageous agreement or a stalemate."
“Not sure if this is an advantageous agreement or a stalemate.”

And although it has nothing to do with anything, I just gotta mention what was my absolute favorite part of the movie, something that I didn’t expect to see at all: CAMEO APPEARANCE BY ROB BRYDON!!!!

"Yes, you called?"
“Yes, you called?”

If you’re an Anglophile like myself, you’re quite familiar with the Welsh comedian and his appearances on many British panel shows.

"Yep, that's me!"
“Yep, that’s me!”

Back to the story, when Cinderella’s stepmother and stepsisters hear about the ball, they, of course, become immediately interested. The stepsisters would love to marry the Prince and Lady Tremaine sees this marriage as a way to improve their financial situation.

Cinderella wants to attend as well, so that she can see Kit, but Lady Tremaine would rather die that see Cinderella attend. So, she gives Cinderella a ton of work to do and tells her that if she completes it in time for the ball, she can go. Fortunately, Cinderella DOES complete the work in time for the ball, but Lady Tremaine straight out tells her to stay home!

This breaks Cinderella’s heart and she just breaks down crying. After her stepmother and stepsisters have left for the ball, a beggar woman comes upon Cinderella and asks her for some milk. Despite her sorrows, Cinderella’s kindness reigns supreme and she gives the woman milk. The woman then transforms into a fairy godmother, played by Helena Bonham Carter.

I think it's an actual law that any Hollywood movie that depicts Brits has to have either Emma Thompson or Helena Bonham Carter in them!
I think it’s an actual law that any Hollywood movie that depicts Brits has to have either Emma Thompson or Helena Bonham Carter in them!

The Fairy Godmother rewards Cinderella for her deeds and decides to send her to the ball via the same format we all know too well: Cinderella gets a beautiful dress and glass slippers, pumpkin turns into a coach, animals turn into coachmen, midnight curfew, etc.

At the ball, everyone’s having a glorious time except for the Prince who’s still looking out for Cinderella. Once Cinderella arrives at the ball, all yes are upon her, especially Kit’s who she soon discovers is the Prince. The two dance and spend quality time together, but midnight soon approaches. Cinderella explains that she has to leave and runs out of the palace accidentally leaving a glass slipper behind. The Prince is upset about this because he STILL hasn’t learned her name! I mean, what the heck have you two been talking about all this time?!

Uh.....yeah, that could explain a lot about you, Kit!
Uh…..yeah, that could explain a lot about you, Kit!

Once the King finds out what has happened and that his son truly wants to marry Cinderella, he sends out his Captain and Grand Duke, played by Nonso Anozie and Stellan Skarsgård, respectively, to go to every maiden in the realm to try on the glass slipper. If it fits, they’ll soon find their Cinderella!

When the stepmother and stepsisters reach home miserably and explain to Cinderella how the Prince fell in love with some strange woman, Lady Tremaine gets suspicious at Cinderella’s odd joyfulness. She goes into the attic and soon discovers the other glass slipper and realizes that Cinderella was the mysterious woman at the ball.

She surreptitiously meets with the Grand Duke and they make a plan. The Grand Duke doesn’t want the Prince to marry a commoner and wanted to force him to marry a particular Princess. Lady Tremaine promises to keep this knowledge to herself and in return, the Grand Duke won’t have to worry about Cinderella showing up and messing up his plans.

(Insert evil laugh/creepy music/any other giveaway that this is a treacherous scene)
(Insert evil laugh/creepy music/any other giveaway that this is a treacherous scene)

Honestly, this “treacherous Grand Duke” plot point is quite unnecessary as it’s not long before the Grand Duke and the Captain reach the Tremaine house. They try the shoe on Anastasia and Drisella to no success and are just about to leave when they hear a voice from the attic. The Grand Duke knows it’s Cinderella and tries to get the Captain to disregard what he hears and just leave quickly. But, the Captain obeys the King’s words and says that “every maiden” means “every maiden”. He demands that Cinderella come down and try on the shoe, much to Lady Tremaine’s chagrin.

Of course, the shoe fits and she and the Prince are soon wedded. The Grand Duke, Lady Tremaine, and her daughters are exiled from the kingdom. And everyone lives happily ever after!

"Well, now that that's over, Cinderella, I'd like to get my wish fulfilled now." "And what wish is that, my dear?" "I wish that Disney would make a live-action film about me next!"
“Well, now that that’s over, Cinderella, I’d like to get my wish fulfilled now.”
“And what wish is that, my dear?”
“I wish that Disney would make a live-action film about me next!”

And that was Cinderella. As far as these live-action remakes go, this honestly was not a bad one. It’s not really a favorite of mine and I don’t see myself watching this movie many more times throughout my life unless I had to, but it’s SOOOOOO much better than that piece of trash, Maleficent!

"Watch what you say, Mark Brown!"
“Watch what you say, Mark Brown!”

The acting was great with Cate Blanchett giving the strongest performance in the film. The story was mostly great. Like I said, the “treacherous Grand Duke” plot was unnecessary and I feel that the movie sort of made Cinderella a character who had no respect for her stepmother. It seems that Cinderella only treated Lady Tremaine nicely because of her familial house as well as her mother’s advice. But, the Cinderella we know truly loved and respected her stepmother, no matter how badly she was treating her. But, neither point is a biggie!

The best thing of all was the overall cinematography and look of the film!

cinderella background1

cinderella background2

cinderella background3

If this film got Oscar nominations for Cinematography and Production Design, I wouldn't be surprised. (If it didn't, I wouldn't be surprised either.)
If this film got Oscar nominations for Cinematography and Production Design, I wouldn’t be surprised. (If it didn’t, I wouldn’t be surprised either.)

I think what saved this film mostly was having Kenneth Branagh as its director!

"Yes, when you have an experienced and talented director such as myself, even live-action Disney remakes can be saved!"
“Yes, when you have an experienced and talented director such as myself, even live-action Disney remakes can be saved!”
"What am I then? Chopped liver?!"
“What am I then? Chopped liver?!”

But that’s not to say that because of my positive review of this film that I condone these live-action remakes of Disney! I’ve never been against them because I thought they would be bad; I’ve been against them just on the principle of remaking these animated classics!

Yes, this film might be good and yes, I’m really looking forward to next year’s The Jungle Book, but I’d be the first one to sign an amendment to the Constitution banning further Disney live-action remakes of their animated films. I know many of you would join me in that as well!

"Today we meet to discuss an issue of grave importance. An issue that doesn't affect just you and me, but all people around the world! It corrupts young minds, divides families, and is an overall security risk to each and every one of us! And it's about time that we did something to battle it! I'm, of course, talking about Disney's live-action remake schedule!"
“Today we meet to discuss an issue of grave importance. An issue that doesn’t affect just you and me, but all people around the world! It corrupts young minds, divides families, and is an overall security risk to each and every one of us! And it’s about time that we did something about it! I’m, of course, talking about Disney’s live-action remake schedule!”

(You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of my rating sheet.)


So, the final score for this film is 30/35 = 85.71% (B) !

The next review will be posted on November 9th.

29 thoughts on “Cinderella (2015)

  1. I haven’t seen the movie yet (I guess I will have to next year), so I skipped to the final judgement.

    Let’s put it this way: I am not against Disney tackling the source material a second time, perhaps with a more serious take. But I don’t see the point of remaking the classics either. They already exist and they are good moves, so why watch it a second time without the animation? I just don’t get it.

    Also, Maleficent is one of those rare movies I truly hate. I want to purge this from the earth and forget that it ever existed.

  2. I really enjoyed this one. It’s the only remake I think I’ve liked, and I hated Maleficent as well. I liked the fact that they stuck close to the original story but basically expanded upon it, and added some more depth to the characters. And it was visually very beautiful.

  3. I haven’t seen this yet. While I’m not against their remaking them, per se, I am really leery of them (I think it’s a matter of lack of trust). I am HIGHLY dubious about remaking Beauty and the Beast!

    I think my expectations for Maleficent were so low, I kind of enjoyed it (at least the middle part, because the fact that she was looking out for Aurora struck me as original), but there is no competing with the cartoon Sleeping Beauty, one of my all time favorites.

  4. I think Cinderella is a little different than other remakes because it has been done so many times over the years so I’m not as tied to the Disney version even though it is one of my favorite Disney films. I’m just more open.

    I thought you were going to trash this film because you were so skeptical going to it but good on you for giving it a chance. I loved the message of kindness and courage and how they gave Lady Tremaine a backstory without changing her character too much. It probably wont happen but I honestly think Cate Blanchett performance is nomination worthy.
    I also really like how they did the transformations and how they still kind of looked like animals. That was clever. A real joy to watch.

    Let’s hope they learn from this movie and not Maleficent, which I also despise.

    1. Oh no, I believe in justice. If a movie has qualities that I think are good, I’ll commend that. If a movie has bad qualities, I won’t commend that. So every movie I go into I definitely give a chance despite what my preconceived notions are. Many times though, my preconceived notions turn out to be true, lol!

      And yeah, I really enjoyed Cate Blanchett’s performance and think it nomination worthy. But, I’m 100% sure, it won’t get an Oscar nomination, lol. She’s starting to rise in my eyes as one of the best actresses working now (in terms of acting ability).

      How are you feeling about The Jungle Book?

      1. I wasnt as high on the trailer as other people but they showed more at D23 and everyone was wowed which makes me excited. The cast is pretty great and I think it is going off of the book which is on my reading list. So I’m pretty open to it but always approach these remakes with trepidation. 🙂

      2. Yeah, The Jungle Book was always the remake that I disliked the least. So now, I’m really looking forward to it!

        Although I’m more looking forward to the 2017 WB Jungle Book with Andy Serkis, Cumberbatch, and Christian Bale

      3. I feel like she actually could get nominated just because it hasnt been a strong year for supporting actress parts but we’ll see. She’s kind of like Meryl Streep in that I never count her out for noms.

      4. Could be. Martian will for sure. Not a ton of artistically impressive sets this year. Definitely will be nominated for costumes

  5. After the fiascoes of ‘Alice in Burtonland’ and ‘Maleficent’, a B for Cinderella is a B for “Bravo!” Even my friends who hated those last two were suggesting that I give this one a try.

    If this is the shape of the future of Disney’s live action remakes of their animated classics, I can rest a little easier. I may not understand WHY they’re putting ‘Beauty and the Beast’ to live action, but I can only hope they will make it the best damn movie they can. And who knows, Jon Favreau might deliver a fun, nostalgic and visually popping ride for ‘The Jungle Book’ in 2016.

    But its a shame that the true Alice in Wonderland and Sleeping Beauty were allowed to be sacrificed at the altar of terrible writing and direction.

    1. “A B for Cinderella is a B for Bravo!” Love that, lol!

      And yeah, I do feel that there will be future remakes that may fall in this ‘Cinderella’ light and actually be “good”. But, I’m still sure that we’re not done seeing the bad ones. Cough*Dumbo*Cough

      1. You’re probably right, with Tim Burton directing Dumbo, I really don’t see anything good coming out of it. Dumbo is one of those films that can only work in animation and is perfect as it stands. And given how out of touch I feel Burton is becoming, I fear his “artirstic” sensibilities will erode the heart of the story. Which is a shame because ‘Dumbo’ was my very first love in Disney animation.

  6. My personal opinion of Disney’s “Cinderella” properties is: This version has more going for it in terms of character development, but the 1950 original has more in terms of humor and music. That being said, I like both versions, though each for different reasons…

    1. Fair, I just feel that it’s harder to be as sympathetic to this new Cinderella as she loses her father when she’s older, she is allowed to go out like to the market and stuff, she does run away once, and she does have friends (like at the market). So I feel it’s easier to be more sympathetic to the 1951 Cinderella.

  7. Regarding the actors that Disney has been casting in the live-action remakes of their human-centered animated films (CINDERELLA, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ALICE IN WONDERLAND), am I the only one who has noticed that they appear to be favoring British actors? (Mind you, I have nothing against that; in fact, as far as I have seen, British actors- especially those of the older generations- seem to take their craft much more seriously than those on our side of the pond.)

    1. Yeah, for many filmmakers, British actors is their go-to when casting big films like this. Maybe it’s because the British accent speaking English language is something most of the world is used to hearing or considered more “proper” or “serious”?

      Regarding Cinderella, it was directed by Kenneth Branagh who’s from the UK, so I can assume that’s why he chose many British people for that one.

  8. I enjoyed this film more than I thought I would (I also didn’t like the live-action Alice in Wonderland and Maleficent) and, like you, I think Kenneth Branagh was the main reason why it was so good. As long as they keep hiring good directors like Branagh and Jon Favreau, the live-action Disney remakes might be safe.

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