Disney’s new Cinderella movie – is it better than the original?

It’s the latest Disney animation to be given a 21st century live-action remake. So with CGI, a madcap Fairy Godmother and a feistier Cinderella, what did our reviewer and her 5-year-old daughter think?

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Old vs new. What’s the difference?

The original 1950 Disney animation is simpler with a more basic storyline and classic cat-and-mouse action. Its U rating and shorter running time also mean it’s better suited for under 5s.Then there’s the ‘untimely demise’ of Cinderella’s parents – in the original it’s mentioned so quickly it’s likely to go unnoticed by those too young to understand. 

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The new live action movie is rated PG and gives more time to sadder scenes, which see Cinderella lose her parents and suffer at the hands of her wicked stepmother.

But it’s no Maleficent, (Disney’s live-action remake of Sleeping Beauty). There aren’t any unexpected dark corners or terrifying twists, which stray from the original script. 

And when attending this new Cinderella screening, we noticed a whole range of ages in the cinema from pre-schoolers to school-age children, teens and adults.

The magic is still there 65 years on, but there’s now an extra layer of modern-day morals, emotions and laugh out loud humour.

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But wait, Cinderella is no longer helpless and vulnerable

Right from the beginning of the film Ella, played by Downton Abbey’s Lily James, shows that she has strong morals – think courage, kindness and goodness – all instilled in her by her dying mother. She’s no longer the vulnerable princess type but a strong, beautiful protagonist. (Best pack some tissues for that scene.)

As the film progresses Ella grows into a beautiful young woman, who even encourages her father to find love again. But when her wicked stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) and her silly step-sisters (Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera) arrive on the scene she finds herself relegated to the attic room where she’s forced to sleep in the fireplace for warmth, gaining her cruel nickname of Cinder-ella. 

All the while she stays strong, and she stays kind (hey, it’s Disney). Then her luck begins to change when she rides into the forest and meets the Prince, (Game of Thrones star Richard Madden) who introduces himself as an apprentice called Kit. Sparks fly from the beginning, even if she does kind of ruin his deer-hunt with a lecture on animal rights. 

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Who needs animation when you have CGI?

Disney animators were always able to create fun little animals with human-like faces and feelings. State-of-the-art special effects mean Ella can have cheeky little mice playing at her feet plus animal friends who help her get to the ball and then dash back around winding cliff-edges while morphing back into mice.

Plus you get CGI butterflies fluttering on lush green meadows, Cinderella’s family home filled with antique furniture and rich furnishings, and of course ball gowns and glass slippers. Even Cinderella’s work dress is amazing (I’d happily get married in it) and you’ll want to pat the wicked stepmother on the back for her opening outfit.

And who needs a rather frumpy cartoon Fairy Godmother, when you can have a crazy and much pointier Helena Bonham Carter wreaking magic havoc?

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So what’s all the fuss about Cinderella’s waist?

It’s worth nothing that there has been some criticism about the size of Cinderella’s waistline, with some critics even accusing Disney of giving her the waist “the size of a Coke can”.

Her waist is indeed small, but I think it’s important to remember that this film is not real life but a fairy tale from the corseted past and, as the film director has already argued, her waist is contrasted with one of the biggest ball gowns this century has seen! 

Watching the film and looking at the big picture, I think Cinderella comes across as a powerful role model showing strength, kindness and courage throughout, particularly when dealing with her wicked stepmother.

Between this and all the wholesome magic going on, I don’t believe the size of Cinderella’s waistline even registered with my 5 year old, although I can’t vouch for older children. 

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Enjoy some camped-up acting

OK, so Helena Bonham Carter now totally owns Fairy Godmother, while Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of Lady Tremaine is brilliantly terrifying with some wicked one-liners as she goes to new super-sinister depths to help her daughters marry well.

There are some comedy cameos too in the form of Rob Brydon as a court painter and Alex Macqueen as the Royal Crier. Unlike the original film, where Cinderella and Prince Charming barely speak more than a few words to each other, there’s a love story full of sizzling chemistry at the heart of this film and Lily James and Richard Madden are truly believable as Cinderella and her Prince. 

On our way home my daughter even asked what I thought they might be having for their tea…

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Last, but not least, there’s a big blockbuster bonus

The brand new Frozen Fever movie will be shown before Cinderella in cinemas across the UK and it may be short – just 7 minutes long – but it will do the job for mini Frozen fans.

All the humour, hi-jinks and heart of the original movie are here with a brand new song Making Today a Perfect Day set to take over our homes. And our minds.

Read more…

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