I was not expecting to like this movie as much as I did. It did what it was supposed to do: it stayed true to the story, did not disrespect the animated classic, and was something I did not prepare myself for: Entertaining.
If you are old enough to read this, you are old enough to know the story (so I doubt I am spoiling anything). The main differences in this and the 1950 animated film is the lack of songs. Still, even that is ok. The movie also shows more of Ella’s life before she is an orphan. Before she dies, Ella’s mother (Hayley Atwell) gives her the message of the movie: Have courage, and be kind.
Enter the evil step mother Lady Tremaine and the step sisters. Anastasia and Drisella (played by Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger, respectably) are convincing sisters that we would expect, but the scene stealer is Lady Tremaine. She is played by the always fantastic Cate Blanchett. She takes an already great Disney villain, and kicks it up a notch. It is as fun to watch as (I can only imagine) it was fun for her to play.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about the movie is how smart it was. Take for instance the meeting between Cinderella (Lily James) and the Prince (Richard Madden, who makes this Prince have some deeper emotional level than he has had in the past). The next time they meet is, of course, at the ball. I was expecting their dialogue to consist of lines like “Don’t I know you from somewhere?”. Instead, the movie made me smile when I heard “It is you.”
The movie is not perfect: I think they had a little too much narration (provided by the Fairy Godmother, played wonderfully by Helena Bonham Carter.) It also ran a little long at parts, but very minor stuff. Parents, if your kid has the ability to go to a movie, they are fine with seeing this. I walked out feeling that the best part of the movie was knowing that all kids (boys and girls) would walk out knowing the world would maybe be a little better if we were all able to be courageous and (most importantly) be kind.
Maybe some adults in the world could remember that too.
Overall: Four Stars ****