Following his mediocre reboot of the Jack Ryan series, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Kenneth Branagh directs this retelling of the classic fairytale “Cinderella”. Do we really need another “Cinderella” movie? Is it really necessary? Well, no. But when it comes to movies directed by Kenneth Branagh, very few of them fall under the category of ‘necessary’. This is a Disney movie though, and it stays true to its roots. There is no attempt to make the film dark and gritty or turn it into an action film, so for that reason it is appreciated. Other than adding in Cinderella’s parents as characters in the beginning act, there are no desperate derivations from the original animated film to ‘spice things up’ either. If you’re looking for a safe life-action adaptation of this fairy tale, you found it.
Cinderella has all of the confidence of a community theater’s 27th production of A Christmas Carol. There is a certain knowledge about how things are supposed to be, and everything goes on without dilemma, but there is this lingering feeling throughout that you’ve seen this done before. Not necessarily better, but not necessarily worse. Even in the minute risks that are taken through the CGIed animals, they feel done out of necessity rather than creative inspiration. All of the beats are hit to keep the audience from being bored, but there’s not really anything present that truly dazzles. The film stays at the level of cute throughout.
At least the film doesn’t feel like a TV movie. It might be the community theater’s 27th production, but the theater got a couple professionals to take on supporting roles this year, and so everyone is inspired to give it their ‘A’ game. Cate Blanchett is deliciously manipulative as the evil stepmother, Helena Bonham Carter is wonderfully campy as the fairy godmother, and Stellan Skarsgård is surprisingly layered as the Grand Duke. Lily James does a fine job as the title role, and she has just enough chemistry with Richard Madden as the Prince to make things convincing.
Cinderella is successful in what it attempts to achieve. Unfortunately, it doesn’t attempt to achieve much. It is incredibly competently made though. And for a Disney film that lasts nearly two hours, time went by at a relatively fast rate. I doubt that you’ll be too disappointed in the film if you go to see it. It’s definitely enjoyable. You’re really not missing much if you choose to skip it though. If the thought of seeing live-action “Cinderella” is exciting for you, you’ll like this. If not, no need to rush anywhere. You can tie your shoes first at least. 6/10.