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Cinderella (2015)

CinderellaA review by CJ Dee

Review contains spoilers from season three of Game of Thrones

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Ella. After her mother’s death Ella’s father remarried, giving her a step-mother and two step-sisters. Not long after, Ella’s father also passes away leaving her a servant in her own home to serve her wicked step-mother and spoilt step-sisters. By remembering to have courage and be kind, Ella finds magic, true love and her happily ever after.

Regular readers will know what to expect but, fair warning to anyone who hasn’t read my past Disney-related reviews: I’m a fan. The following review is rated U for unabashed fangirling, unrestrained squeeing and unrepentant use of the phrase ‘it was magical’.

Despite the above disclaimer, I was a little bit snarky when I first discovered that a live-action Cinderella movie was being made. I believe snark included ‘yes, because what the world needs is yet another live-action retelling, reimagining and rehashing of Cinderella’s story’. What I didn’t realise at the time was that this retelling was being brought to life with the magic of the Walt Disney company. From the moment I saw the first trailer, I knew this would be something special.

Cinderella takes the viewer on a journey through Ella’s life, giving us an emotional connection that wasn’t present in so many other incarnations. We see the death of her mother, the death of her father and the death of her step-mother’s already dwindling soul. Yet throughout this, we see a girl whose courage and kindness don’t let her give up or resort to the cruelty that has been shown to her.

The casting director should be given an Oscar right now. I know that casting directors don’t get Oscars. Lucy Bevan should. The cast is perfect in all of their roles.

Lily James portrays Ella’s beauty perfectly, both inside and out. The range of emotions she needed to nail for the role of Ella could have been handled poorly by a lesser actress. James hit them spot on each time.

Richard Madden as ‘Mr Kit’ (that’s Prince Charming to you and me) was an interesting choice considering it’s fair to assume most people will know him as Robb Stark from Game of Thrones. My first thought was ‘Has anyone warned Ella what happened at the last wedding he attended?’. Though of course their wedding goes off without a hitch. Or so we’re led to assume, we never actually see the ceremony only the afterglow. Who knows how many people were killed? But I digress. Regardless, Madden’s performance as the Prince really was charming.

Cate Blanchett is a wicked villain and I mean that in the best possible way. She was truly despicable and yet we are shown just enough to pity her a little too. All the markings of a wonderful villain portrayed by an exceptional actress who excelled in the role.

If I were to have a fairy godmother (and who knows, maybe I do), I would want her to be exactly like Helena Bonham Carter’s representation. Funny, caring and a little bit quirky. Bonham Carter brings the role to life in a way that I truly believe only she is capable. Imagine the bat-crap-craziness of Bellatrix Lestrange, but used for good not evil. That’s right, it was brilliant.

The Cinderella soundtrack is beautiful. The score does precisely what it should, highlighting and emphasising the emotions portrayed in the film. However, it does so without encroaching. I downloaded the soundtrack the morning after viewing Cinderella, thinking I might not be able to recognise most of the instrumental pieces yet found myself humming along. If you’re interested in movie soundtracks, this one is a keeper with versions of ‘A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes’ and ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’ sung by Lily James and Helena Bonham Carter respectively.

I thought Cinderella might do what so many other live-action incarnations have done and ignore Ella’s critter friends. Not only are the critters represented beautifully in CGI, but it is explained how and why Ella talks to her animal friends. Keep an eye on Mr Goose throughout the film. Who knew geese were comedy gold?

If you love the story of Cinderella and want to see what is unequivocally the best live-action version of her story, then this is not a movie you should miss. Run to the cinemas, don’t walk — but watch those shoes.

‘I’m your Hairy Dogfather … Oh! I mean your Fairy Godmother.’

Rating: full starfull starfull starfull starfull star 5 out of 5 stars
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Starring: Lily James, Rob Sta- erm … Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgård, Nonso Anozie
Other notable appearances: Helena Bonham Carter, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera
Running time: 105 minutes
Watch this if you liked: Cinderella (1950), Maleficent

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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