I’ve already spoken about Disney and thier recent surge of live-action re-makes; surmising that their success really depends on whether they justify their existence, by bringing something new to the original story. If we’re to judge Disney’s latest – a humanised version of their classic animation, Cinderella – on this basis alone, then it’s unsuccessful. This is the same old story, that plays out with little creative change. That doesn’t mean that Cinderella is a bad film through; if anything, it strays so close to the original, that it’s almost impossible not to like. It’s a truly magical tale that hits the same notes perfectly – “you shall go to the ball”, the pumpkin carriage, the mice turned horses etc – with the added sentiment of always being kind and courageous.
I think Kenneth Branagh has proven himself a great director (I even enjoyed Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit for what it was) and this has him doing what he does best. The lavish landscapes, beautiful ballrooms, pristine palaces, and gorgeous gowns, make this version of Cinderella equally as enchanting to look at as the animated version. It’s all so lovely that the film is almost bulletproof, or at least ‘critic-proof’; but there are problems throughout. It’s a shame that the sweet sentiments of being nice and brave, somewhat conflict with that Disney tradition of portraying all women as big-bosoms and small waists; and the film sorely misses those wonderful musical numbers from its original. Helena Bonham Carter’s Fairy Godmother character only serves as a reminder of that, with all her bibbidi-bobbidi-booing.
Besides the worrying portrayal of its female characters, and the lack of great tunes, Cinderella is still enjoyable. The cast are fantastic – particularly Cate Blanchett as the wicked step-mother – as is Branagh’s direction. More than anything, it’s the magic that makes the film, which is hard not to get swept up in, despite the films other issues. It’s as good as live-action Cinderella I think could have ever been made; children will love it, because after all what’s not to love? But fundamentally, it’s the same story we’ve seen before, which in a way makes it pointless.
If you did need an incentive to watch Cinderella on the big-screen though, surely the short sequel to Disney’s Frozen, would be enough for most people. Entitled Frozen Fever, we re-join our characters on Anna’s birthday. Queen Elsa wants to make this one extra special, to make up for all those years that her sister spent outside her door. She enlists the help of Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven, to make it the best birthday ever, but things don’t quite go according to plan when Elsa comes down with a cold.
Frozen Fever is an interesting idea, but still remains a short film. Whilst it’s lovely to catch up with the characters, it acts more as a music video than anything else, with the majority of the short revolving around new track ‘Making Today a Perfect Day’. It’s no ‘Let It Go’ but is none the less as charming. You may be disappointed by how short it is (my niece was) but if you just see at as the orderve before the main course that will be Frozen 2, then you’ll more than likely find it at least satisfying.