Lately, Disney seems to have abandoned the animated films that put the company on the map (at least temporarily) in favor of live-action movies that retell some their most famous fairy tales. The latest in this lineup is Cinderella, staring Lily James as the title character, Cate Blanchett as Stepmother, and Richard Madden as The Prince. Having really enjoyed Maleficent, which put an entirely new and creative spin on the familiar tale of Sleeping Beauty, I was really looking forward to Cinderella. Hoping for another fresh twist on a somewhat tired old story, I was disappointed to find that this version stuck pretty faithfully to that of the original Disney cartoon...right down to the animated/computer generated mice friends who help Cinderella sew her dress.
James' Cinderella character is so Mary Sue-esque she's really sort of irritating, and there is no chemistry between her and Madden's cardboard Prince. Even Blanchett, who I've enjoyed in other films, fails to capture the true diabolicalness of the Evil Stepmother. The one bright spot in the film is the comic relief provided by Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger, who play the bumbling and overly-dramafied Stepsisters. I wish they'd been given more screen time.
If you're looking for a truly awesome live-action retelling of Cinderella, skip this and try Ever After (1998), which actually does give the story a bit of a fresh twist, not to mention some actual relationship development between Danielle, the Cinderella character, and the Prince prior to the Big Ball Scene (none of this insta-love that is not at all believable).
According to IMDB, we can expect the next live action fairy tale to be Beauty and the Beast (2017) staring Emma Watson. Hopefully Disney does something creative with this one. --AJB