Sunday, March 15, 2015


Movie Name: Cinderella
Year of Release: 2015
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Ben Chaplin, Derek Jacobi, Stellan Skarsgard, Holliday Grainger, Sophie McShera, Nonso Anozie, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Jana Perez, Alex Macqueen
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

Following the mediocre "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" which premiered in 2014 to lackluster reviews, actor/director Kenneth Branagh is back, this time around with the retelling of a classic Disney story (itself an adaptation of the classic European folk tale which had written versions of it by Charles Perrault and also The Brothers Grimm). The story follows the young heroine Ella, who is brought up in a loving household by her mother and father. Following her mother's passing, Ella's father remarries, this time around to a Madam Tremaine, who joins the household alongside her two daughters. Ella suffers at the hands of these women, something that worsens following her dad's surprise death. In one of her outbursts, Ella meets the prince of the kingdom, hunting in the forest, and who is captivated by her charm. In a sumptuous ball that is staged for the prince to choose a future wife, Ella (renamed Cinderella by her stepsisters and stepmother), against the wishes of Lady Tremaine, dazzles and enchants the prince, thanks to her spirit and the help of her fairy godmother.
The classic Cinderella story has seen multiple adaptations, iterations, and influenced so many of the crop of multiple films of the last 30 years (to name but a few, there are Andy Tennant's "Ever After", Garry Marshall's "Pretty Woman" and Tommy O'Haver's "Ella Enchanted"), that this new version by Kenneth Branagh almost feels like yet another attempt to breathe life to a tired and overused fairy tale. The producing studio, Disney, is trying to re-utilize much of their animated portfolio with these adaptations, following the success of Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" and Robert Stromberg's "Maleficent". So far the common thread across these adaptations have been the lack of a distinct point of view: all these films are marked by a decidedly generic tone, one where the production values and visual effects threaten to swallow the entire narrative. Even Tim Burton's film version of "Alice" was one of his worst features, something that again happens with Kenneth Branagh's "Cinderella". Aside from the performances from Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter (who brings some needed humor to the story), and the costumes from Sandy Powell, "Cinderella" is an anemic and generic retelling of a story that is about the enchantment and magic of love and empowerment. Another mediocre effort from director Kenneth Branagh.