(Running late! Have Allcon this weekend and after the movie it was way late!)
Starring: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgard, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell, and more
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh Screenplay by: Chris Weitz Cinematography by: Haris Zambarloukos Music by: Patrick Doyle
Premise: Years after the death of her mother, Ella's father remarries a widow with two daughters. The rocky relationship between the new members of the family escalates when Ella's father also passes. Bereft of most of their income and imbued with jealousy, Ella's step-mother and step-sisters slowly but surely relegate Ella to the role of a servant rather than a family member. Things continue to deteriorate and are brought to a boil when the small kingdom holds an open ball for all eligible your maidens. (Rated PG)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The casting on this film by Lucy Bevan was great. Lily James does a lovely job as Cinderella. Richard Madden and Lily are adorable together and the chemistry between them felt real and fresh. Cate Blanchett was fab as the evil step-mother. She was very expressive and gave depth to the character, showing her bitterness at her lack of power and socially forced dependence on men to assure a comfortable existence and fear she might not be able to give that certainty to her daughters. Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger were perfect as the clueless and mean step-sisters. Helena Bonham Carter put her own twist to the Fairy Godmother and did a grand job as the story's narrator.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Lots of lovely and subtle special effects enhance the film to give it just the right amount of magic, yet kept it within the bounds of something that could happen in reality. The CGI for the mice and other animals was very well done. Lots of humorous touches, especially with the goose, that make the film transcend to a possible new Disney classic.
The pumpkin transformation scene was changed with a cute twist, but the payoff is totally there when it starts reverting back to what it originally was on the mad dash away from the castle at midnight. Totally worth the wait and they give you a fun and funny conversion for the mice and lizards to satiate the audience until the later midnight reversion payoff.
The enhancements to the real castle and even the manor that is Ella's home definitely make the places magical. The stag in the forest was fantastic as well. The stag's expressions when he first meets her and then when he realizes she means him no harm, were exquisitely done. Also loved the use of the blue birds, which tie back to the animated film.
3) Story - Thumbs Up: The original tale gets expanded a little, making the whole more robust. Some of the actions and reactions are based on realities, thus giving more depth to the situations. The need for women of certain social status to marry to ensure they have money to live on as their skills are only useful in the management of a home or entertainment, rather than on ways to make a living. The pressures on monarchs to make advantageous alliances through marriage, and more.
They even plug in a couple of issues with the original, like why the step-mother and step-sisters do not recognize Cinderella at the ball.
There's also a little more interaction between Ella and the prince, making them more both more multidimensional. And Ella's conversations with animals and their reactions to her totally fit.
Incidental characters add a lot as well - used for comedic moments or for adding flavor. Both animals and people love to peek in at all sorts of places.
4) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Great work on both fronts! Loved everything they did with the step-sisters - the horrid patterns and matching fabrics, the hair styles making them closely resemble their animated counterparts. The beautiful dresses and fashion for the step-mother, making a definite contrast between her talents and advantages and the utter lack of same by her daughters.
Cinderella's dress for the ball was fantastic! The gorgeous blue color and the layers and layers of fabric beneath made the dress seem to shimmer in different shades whenever she moved. Lots of prime colors for the other ladies at the ball, giving the scenes the same brightness of the animated version.
5) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: A lot of the filming locations are real places in England, enhanced by CGI. The combinations works fabulously. The cinematography took advantage of this as well, for lovely sweeping shots of the palace and the country manor. The Old Naval Royal College used for the palace interiors looked awesome all on its own.
Conclusion: This live action rendition of the old classic is definitely good enough to be a new classic. No singing, though they do have two of the songs play through the credits. The extra depth and detail given to the characters make for a better film. The animated short before the main film is a Frozen short and it is utterly adorable and very well done!
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price to See Again)