With zero desire of seeing CINDERELLA I got a text message from a friend telling me how he was excited for the Cinderella movie because Kenneth Branagh was directing it. Wait, what? Color me curious. With this new information and early positive buzz, I was honestly pumped to see the film. But thoughts of the dreaded MALEFICENT worried me.
Just as I thought, the movie turned out to be awesome. A excellent night at the movies! Before I talk about CINDERELLA, I wanna mention my thoughts on the animated short that showed before the feature. FROZEN FEVER was a disappointment. I stopped thinking about it as soon as the main feature began. For me the main culprit is that it's just too soon. Oh, and the fact that it was completely pointless. Forgettable filler.
Once CINDERELLA started I knew this was going to be something special right from the opening frame. A picturesque setting of a village that reminded me a lot of the old school Technicolor films from the 40's and 50's. Very British and very Powell & Pressburger (THE RED SHOES, BLACK NARCISSUS). I wonder if Branagh was influenced at all by those guys? It sure looked like it.
You all know the story, but here you go. When her father unexpectedly passes away, Ella finds herself at the mercy of her wicked stepmother and sister in-laws. Ella's courage and kindness find good fortune when she runs into a dashing stranger in the woods. Unaware that he is a prince, not merely an employee at the palace, Ella feels she has finally met a kindred soul. Yes, you know the rest. The prince has a party to find his princess. Ella wants to go but her stepmother prevents her. Saddened by this Ella gives up hope, but her fairy godmother has other plans.
With a little magic Ella who is now Cinderella can go to the ball and met her “prince”. She arrives and is the belle of the ball. But at the stroke of midnight everything is to turn back to normal so instead of a goodnight kiss Cinderella leaves the prince a glass slipper. Days go by and the prince has yet to find the girl with the glass slipper. And as the story goes he finds Ella, to which then if the shoe fits?
So everybody knows the story of Cinderella, therein lies the task of making a story known interesting. And Kenneth Branagh does so in a way that is so fresh but somehow timeless. Instead of making it cool and hip for the kids, he sticks with what works and that is the story. What a brilliant concept! Nothing dumb like the wicked stepmother just being misunderstood and Ella's parents being the real evil ones? My favorite thing about CINDERELLA was how it looked! It reminded me of watching a Technicolor film from the 40's. And the movie looked like film, not 4k Digital HD. The best special effect was Ella's transformation to Cinderella. It felt like it was ripped straight out of the animated feature, and it looks fantastic! Reverse roto-scoping, if there is such a thing. If you like classic Disney then I highly recommend CINDERELLA!