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(Originally I was just going to write this as a journal entry, but seeing how this went on alot longer than I expected, I decided to instead post this as a regular review. Enjoy, unless you hate my views on the movie)

So a couple of weeks ago, me and my older sister decided to have a sibling movie night before her trip to Florida for a week the following morning. We rarely do so due to our schedules being either work, school, or our social lives, and we thought it would be fitting to see the new Cinderella movie, seeing how she would be visiting Disney World during her trip. So we went to the movie theater, got us some popcorn and drinks, and we headed in to see this new take on the iconic fairy tale…

Um, is it possible to both hate and like a movie at the same time, because I’ve been fighting myself over this film ever since I saw it. There was alot in the movie I thought was really good, a nice reimagining of the story, but also made the film feel really outdated.

Let’s get something out of the way that’s pretty obvious: this story has been retold to death. We all know the story, we all know the characters, we know nearly everything about Cinderella due to it being retold every few years. There were 11 adaptations before the 1950 Disney film, and 29 other versions done before the 2015 movie. Heck, one was done last year by Disney, Into the Woods. And boy do I remember growing up with the various versions, the Disney movie, A Cinderella Story, the 1997 movie with Whoopi Goldberg, it got to a point I hated the movie. But the more I think about it, I do have some parallels with the story. But I’ll get to that later.

It was only recently I realized I might have been too harsh on the movie. The movie is, as usual for classic Disney films, a warm, cute, enjoyable movie with memorable songs, characters, and top quality animation. But the film was also important for the company. At this point, the Disney studio wasn’t doing good moneywise. Most of the 1940s was the studio making short movies without three act structures for the United States government due to World War II, a whole slew of animated shorts, and a few movies, all good, but not so much moneywise. This was the movie that got the studio making money again, making more fairy tales, and making Disney popular again. So the movie was a big deal at the time.

I also want to point something out about this movie: it’s not that bad. Sure, many people shrug it off and say it’s anti-feminist due to Cinderella just ‘sitting around and wishing for her prince charming to come take her away’ (that’s more of a Snow White and Princess Aurora thing), but that’s not really true in the Disney movie. Cinderella works her ass off in the movie, keeping the house tidy (which I’ll admit looks great, despite the narrator saying it’s fallen into a bad state), feeds the animals, makes the food, she’s doing everything for these three jackasses and their cat. And seeing how she was told to do this at a young age and has had to grow up being told just that, I see less of her whining and constantly going ‘oh, I hope some handsome man takes me away’ and just dealing with the work. Yes, she has little character, but I kind of forgive the movie for allowing that due to how much she puts up with the three and just deals with it.

Now I know other’s will say, ‘well the stepmother didn’t have much of a character, just being evil and all’, but you do have to admit it’s a disturbing thought for a person to be in control of someone else. She’s on the level of Judge Frollo and Mother Gothel, wicked people who have manipulated young children to do their biddings. And, too be fair, the stepmother is a great Disney villain. Her look, her voice, the animation, she’s a great villain for the movie.

And you know what’s also great about the movie? It’s look. The film features the talent of two of some of my favorite Disney artists, Marc Davis and Mary Blair. Davis was behind the design and animation of Cinderella, which is fitting since Davis was responsible for animating Snow White back in the 1930s. Just the way she’s drawn has a nice, warm appeal to her. It’s hard to explain, but I just like her design and the color palette she has. Now Mary Blair is a name alot often don’t hear of, but if you were to look her up, you’d be able to recognize her work off the bat. She’s responsible for assisting with the concept art for Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, various other projects for Disney, and this movie. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because of the colors, maybe it’s because of how sweeping it looks, but the way she envisioned a scene, created it with very few colors, and it’s final appearance on film always astounds me. For example, if you ever rewatch the film, did you ever notice how the castle is kind of surrounded by mist? Or when the guards race after Cinderella the only color the guards’ capes and horses eyes have are red? It’s really weird, but the only way to describe it as it being from something scene in a dream.

But the film is without it’s faults. The prince, as usual during these films of the Classic Disney era, have little to no personality or lines, the comedy gets alot of time where it could be focused on the main character (the mice, the king, the cat, etc.) Thought with that said, what were you expecting out of a Disney film from the 1950s, as well as it being a movie based on a fairy tale at that time? Despite it’s flaws, I don’t see anything wrong with it except the whole concept of ‘whomever has their foot match the size of this slipper shall be my wife’ thing after only meeting her once, deciding she’s the one you want due to her looks, and just by coincidence finding the girl with the right foot size who just so happens to be Cinderella. Yet despite that, I don’t really think the 1950 film was anti-feminist. Sure, it has problems and isn’t a perfect movie, but it has some good points.

Now as for the 2015 film, it’s almost a similar story. The new film attempts to ‘modernize’ the story, by mixing up various versions of the original fairy tale with other interpretations, as well as flesh out characters. This leads to many characters getting more screen time and recognition other films didn’t do, and some of the magic element being toned down to make it seem more ‘realistic’. However, it still surprises me that when going down this route, they actually kind of made the film feel make no sense at some points.

In a far off kingdom many years ago, lived a wealthy family on a small estate. Ella, the daughter of a travelling businessman (Ben Chaplin) and his wife (Hayley Atwell) have it all perfect, until Ella’s mother becomes and ill and passes away from a disease. Before passing, however, she tells Ella to ‘always be kind and have courage’, which Ella takes to heart. As years go by and Ella enters her teenage years, her father decides to remarry again and does so with the willow Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett)  and her two daughters, Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger). All seems well, until Ella’s father passes away during his travels, leaving their once flourishing home to go to ruin, resulting in Tremaine having Ella no longer be considered family, having her become a maiden and doing all the housework. All isn’t lost though, as she befriends many of the mice and animals on the estate, as well as an apprentice (Richard Madden) she runs across one afternoon, whom both hit it off with one another. Little does Ella, now dubbed Cinderella, know that the apprentice is actually the prince, whom is to take a bride and the throne with the king’s (Derek Jacobi) health slowly deteriorating day by day. Seeing a chance to see this mysterious woman again, the prince decides to allow anyone in the kingdom to attend an upcoming ball. However, Tremaine decides to not allow Cinderella to attend the event, resulting in Cinderella giving up all hope. Luckily for her, she is suddenly given a chance for one night of happiness when her Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) appears and gives her a ride to the ball as well as a new dress. All goes well until the magic runs out at midnight, where Cinderella returns to her home with a night of fun memories and one glass slipper to remind her of those good times. Yet when the prince decides to go and look for this mysterious girl, Tremaine puts two and two together, locking Cinderella away so she won’t get her happily ever after. Will Cinderella get out to be reunited with the prince of her dreams?... It’s Cinderella, how the heck do you think it’s going to end?

As you can guess, I had some stuff I didn’t really like in this movie. The biggest fault I have with the movie is how they wrote Cinderella, or ‘Ella’ as Disney wants us to call her now. With the prince, stepmother, and the father feeling fleshed out and better written, Ella surprisingly was toned down, which is odd since we focus on her the whole time and is just a boring character. THIS is the Cinderella that everyone thought the first one was: a girl who sits around and just waits for her prince to come save her.

Now she isn’t always sitting around not doing anything. We do see Cinderella work to keep the house in shape, via chores to feeding the animals. But a majority of the movie is her feeling bad for herself. One scene worked where Lady Tremaine flat out says Ella’s not considered family, which is well done. However, another is when Cinderella has her dressed ‘ripped apart’. Remember how she had her dressed ripped apart to shreds in the 1950 film? It’s literally two tears here and there that she could easily sew up in a few minutes. And don’t anyone say she can’t because the mice did it, this version had Ella sew the dress herself. But what does she do instead of that? Run off and cry her eyes out. Lady, you’re going to see a guy who you assume is an apprentice, not the friggin prince. Do you really assume he’ll be really judgemental about the way the dress was sewn up?

Another area was where Ella becomes a maid for Tremaine’s family. In this film, Tremaine marries Ella’s dad when she’s a teenager, about 17 or so. It’s odd seeing how at this stage it’s really hard to cause anyone to do what they’re told, especially seeing how people at this age act. It makes sense that the original had Tremaine mess with Cinderella’s natural place due to the fact she still had the thought to do what your elders say, and seeing how her parents are gone, Tremaine is the closest thing. And I know others will say ‘well, it’s just a cartoon’, why is it that Quasimodo and Rapunzel had to go through the same thing and Cinderella doesn’t get a pass?

And guess what, this can happen in real life as well. To sum up a non-important story, me and my sister have dealt with stepfamilies for years on both sides of our families, either it being in Colorado with our mom and stepdad, or Wyoming with our dad and ‘stepmom’. Our dad got remarried to a woman with three daughters, who we and our dad have gotten along with fine. But the stepmom had some grudge against us, I’m not sure, and for 10 years flat out fucked with me, my sister, my dad, and my dad’s family. From flat out saying my sister ‘was no longer important to our dad’, to having me go to be ‘fixed’ my psychiatric doctors because I was ‘wired wrong’. Both times our mom came to the rescue and stood up for us, where our dad didn’t really take a say in the matter, due to us being too young to understand what was going on and the fact we started to get the facts clear to him as the years went by and we got older and sick of her bullshit. In the end, she ended up cheating on some other guy, left our dad and went to Texas, our dad’s doing good, clearly being alot happier, we’ve stayed in touch with the stepmom’s kids and still get along, and joke about it often with our dad and his friends. But either way, that’s still 10 years this woman was a pain to my sister and my dad, causing my sister to go through very emotional times and just downright insulting her, and I can’t stand how much it mentally affected them. But enough of that.

Another problem is the fact Cinderella can willingly leave the house whenever she wants. There’s a scene where she’s in a nearby village with a former servant who used to work on the estate before being fired, and she asks Cinderella who doesn’t she leave. Cinderella says she would, but feels sorry for them and no one would look after the house. Honey, I’m positive your folks would be okay with you leaving a home that’s caused you to flat out be dehumanized for years. But hey, seeing how she marries the prince and the Tremaines move away, I guess no one cares about the house in the end.

But okay, there are who could bring up valid points to argue against my views. So how do you explain the ‘climax’ of the movie? The movie does a twist where Tremaine puts together that Cinderella was the girl at the dance, finding the slipper and bribing Cinderella, since the prince has announced whomever comes front who is the girl from the dance and fits the slipper will marry the prince. Cinderella, instead of agreeing to her terms and flat out telling the truth to the prince and throwing this witch in the dungeon, decides to stand up to her and disagrees with her. This causes Tremaine to smash the slipper, lock her ass in the attic, bribe one of the higher ups in the castle to give her two daughters some royalty unless they want word that this ‘mysterious woman’ is a servant, and the dude agreeing to look like he’s trying, but actually stalling for the whole event to be forgotten. This results the dude going up to every woman in the kingdom and try the slipper on their feet. Three days pass, and they finally get to the Tremaine house. So, what has Cinderella been up to?

She’s been in the attic, sitting around and singing.

No, I’m dead serious. The “updated” version of this character, who knows the prince is looking for her, knows her stepmother plans on acting out mutiny to the kingdom, sitting around...and singing.

THIS. CINDERELLA. SUCKS. And before someone says, ‘well, the windows were locked so she couldn’t scream for help’, THEY WEREN’T! The mice, when the movie focuses on them (which is so little they’re only here to remind you of the older movie), open the window for her. Are you friggin serious? But the more I think about it, you care so little for this character. When she does go to the ball, I sat back and realized, I don’t care that she finally got to go to the dance. This isn’t a ‘modernized’ Cinderella, this is a movie about the blonde, prettied up marketed version of the character that Disney has been advertising for years that resembles and stands so little for what the character actually is. And seeing how Disney wrote their last three movies featuring princess characters, one being a workaholic like Cinderella, is mind boggling.

Which is a shame, because there are some stuff I did like in the movie. I appreciate the filmmakers decided to up the roles of the Prince, King, and Lady Tremaine. The prince and king get alot more screen time, actually making you feel for these characters. It came a point when the king dies, I actually felt bad he went. As for Lady Tremaine, I like how you get an understanding why she acts the way she does. During the opening, Tremaine overhears Ella and her father bring up how they both miss the mother. Tremaine gets the idea she can never be able to be a figure for Ella to look up to, thus causing a somewhat hatred towards her. However, it doesn’t help they gave her this really annoying laugh that got old quick. But then there’s a scene where after breaking the slipper, Cinderella asks why she’s the way she is towards her. The line is “Well, you’re good, and I’m…” before locking the door.

Look, despite the fact I hated my stepmother, I will admit I do feel sorry for her. For a few years she spent trying to write a biography, and by accident I came across a copy where it brought up how at a young age, she witnessed her brother get killed when his head flat out was crushed by a passing car after flipping over his bike handlebar on their way to school, resulting with her other brother becoming an alcoholic and being in and out of prison numerous times over the years, having a relationship where she cut off contact with her mother, and being an alcoholic. That could explain the reason for the way she is, I’m not saying that’s the answer, it could be another reason, but I do feel bad for that happening to her. The bottom line was she flat out didn’t write “I’m the way I am because I’m evil and other people are good.” Sorry, sidetracked again.

The transformation sequence with the Fairy Godmother is good, though was slightly off at some spots. Where the Fairy Godmother makes the Pumpkin carriage and a sequence later on where the carriage nearly fell off a cliff, the sequence felt like something Tim Burton might have shot when he was making Alice in Wonderland back in 2010. It was odd, to the point I’m curious what Burton would do with this kind of story, but they were good sequences.

I also found myself loving the costumes. They have this warm, beautiful look to them that grabbed your attention and made the film seem more lively. Hell, the style of the movie during this setting looks great. The dress Cinderella wears is eye blowing, my God, what blue was used for that dress? It looked gorgeous. Also, the film had some good comedy. From a guy ramming his head on a low beam to the Fairy Godmother to some scenes with the mice, I had fun watching this.

Look, I didn’t want to rip this movie apart immediately after I saw it, I actually was okay with it. But the more I thought about it, the fact I rewatched the 1950 movie, it made me realize the film was heavily flawed. If you want to see a better version of this, try Tangled, Princess and the Frog, or hell, Ever After with Drew Barrymore. But the stuff that worked for me was good, and if you want to see this new take and go away with your own views, wait for it on DVD to rent.

If there are people out there who like this movie, I recommend you skipping reading this. 
© 2015 - 2024 Jarvisrama99
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TheNewDorothyGale's avatar
"Sure, many people shrug it off and say it’s anti-feminist due to Cinderella just ‘sitting around and wishing for her prince charming to come take her away’ (that’s more of a Snow White and Princess Aurora thing)"

I wish people actually watched the Disney movies before knocking their characters. Snow was forced into hiding when she was almost murdered thanks to her stepmother and was happy waiting for the prince with her new life with the dwarfs. she's very strong.

And Aurora wanted romantic companionship after being isolated her whole life (funny how nobody shames Rapunzel for doing the same thing). That's extremely natural, especially for a 16 year old, nor is it "waiting for a prince". She doesn't even know she is a princess and when she finds out she doesn't want to be one. she is rescued, because, you know, you can't exactly do anything when an evil hag fairy curses you. Neither of them do as you said, unlike than any of these newer princesses who actually do need constant rescuing because they can't seem to stay out of trouble.

also, I don't get where everyone sees no personality in Phillip. at all! he's adventurous, romantic, chivalrous, has a saucy sense of humor, and isn't afraid to tell his dad to get with the times- political marriages are out! Prince Florian too, is pretty romantic and respectful of Snow. he searches for a whole year to find Snow and you can see how emotional he is when he thinks she's dead. 

anyway, that was a bit OT, sorry, but I am so tired of people perpetuating these stereotypes about movies I love when they haven't even seen them. on another note, while the old Cinderella herself was better, I quite liked the newer one, even though Ella, unlike her predecessor, had no reason to stay in her abusive household (even her friends say as much! she ONLY stays because she grew up there!). Thoguh I'll say Ever After is nice but kind of overrated. I used to adore Danielle but no longer- she lets herself become as bad as her stepmother and I'm so tired of these anachronistic "multitalented strong female characters who kick butt and don't need no man" characters ruining the original tales.