Friday, March 20, 2015


The Bottom Line: So, um, apparently I’m a sucker for live-action Disney princess movies.  Damn you, director Kenneth Branagh!  With its simplistic yet timeless messages on hope, courage and kindness assuredly in place (and not beating you over the head with a cinder-coated fireplace shovel), this disarmingly charming belle of the ball is poised to rightfully do huge business and do for most 8-year old girls what The Hunger Games does for most 15-year old girls.  Now I don’t have daughters (so I have no idea what I’m talking about), but I do have hoop-shorts-wearing, Beats-by-Dre-listening, Madden-football-playing 10- and 8-year old boys who both really enjoyed it and gave it a B+ – so you do the box office math…  Branagh has respectfully and lovingly crafted a bare-bones, simplistically sincere, confidently charming and enchantingly dazzling film.  We may all very well know the story, but this regal recapturing gets a ton right from its efficient pace to its glorious costume design and art direction to the casting of Blanchett (the evil stepmother), Bonham-carter (the fairy godmother) and the oh-so-elegant and not-in-the-least-bit-ugly Lily James (Cinderella).  There’s not a huge amount of new ground being broken here, but it still remains a kind-hearted, handsome and huggably forthright film – a wonderfully whimsical delight for all ages.  Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Booyah!

Starring: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham-Carter, Richard Madden and Stellan Skarsgard
Directed by: Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Hamlet, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Dead Again)
Rated: PG
Running time: 115 minutes
Story: The story of Cinderella follows the fortunes of young Ella whose merchant father remarries following the tragic death of her mother. Keen to support her loving father, Ella welcomes her new stepmother Lady Tremaine and her daughters Anastasia and Drisella into the family home. But, when Ella's father suddenly and unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Finally relegated to nothing more than a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. Yet, despite the cruelty inflicted upon her, Ella is determined to honor her mother's dying words and to "have courage and be kind." She will not give in to despair nor despise those who abuse her. And then there is the dashing stranger she meets in the woods. Unaware that he is really a prince, not merely an employee at the Palace, Ella finally feels she has met a kindred soul. It appears as if her fortunes may be about to change when the Palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, raising Ella's hopes of once again encountering the charming "Kit." Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and callously rips apart her dress. But, as in all good fairy tales, help is at hand as a kindly beggar woman steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella's life forever. [Walt Disney Pictures]

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