Cinderella - 4 Stars
Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella is a colourful reimagining of the classic tale that while adding some new twists and depth stays true to the enduring fairytale.
When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Never one to give up hope, Ella's fortunes begins to change after meeting a dashing stranger.
I like lots of people was a bit apprehensive at the casting announced, Cate Blanchett as the Stepmother and Helena Boham Carter as the Fairy Godmother – shouldn’t that be the other way round? I could not have been more wrong, Cate Blanchett offers one of her strongest ever performances and she really makes you hate her from the get go. Bonham Carter displays a side I don’t think we’ve really seen before and while she could’ve seemed a little less menacing she still played her role well! The supporting cast of Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgård, Derek Jacobi, Hayley Atwell and Rob Brydon were superb. Each of the ensemble members brought their own unique touch to the film and their combined star power brings a gravitas and superb level of acting that is unusual for a fairy-tale film.
The two leads, Cinderella and her Prince played by Lily James and Richard Madden worked well together, and shared a strong onscreen chemistry. Madden brought an almost comic element to his role, but was also able to play the more serious scenes well. Lily James was good as Cinderella, but not brilliant. James’ character doesn’t really evolve the entire film, Cinderella is really about the effect she has on others lives, so while this does limit what she can do with the role she is probably the weakest in the cast. However, she is playing with a wealth of well-seasoned actors and she does certainly have a future in the business!
Kenneth Branagh’s direction did enhance the film; he used an array of colour to convey the various tones throughout the movie, which works well. While the story is slightly altered it is sure to impress those new to Cinderella and those who are fans of the animated film, as it keeps the creative integrity of the original. The film is also humanised, it gives the Prince and Cinderella’s parents names, hence creating a much stronger back-story for all the characters making the film seem much more realistic.
Overall this film has a superb all star cast, and fantastic direction from Kenneth Branagh, which makes it a very, very enjoyable film to watch.
Review by Benjamin Maio Mackay
Screening courtesy of Walt Disney Entertainment