‘Cinderella’ (2015) (Film)


Please feel free to comment on my review.

Have Courage and Be Kind

Is the 2015 live-action version of ‘Cinderella’ better than the 1950 animated version of ‘Cinderella’?

Kenneth Branagh as a director has led an interesting career over the years. I still find the first ‘Thor’ film he directed to be the best out of the trilogy (so far) of ‘Thor’ films in the ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe‘. While people are divided over 2017’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’, I still find merit in it.

I’m hoping that will be the case when it comes to seeing 2022’s (hopefully) ‘Death on the Nile’. With ‘Artemis Fowl’ though, it’s one of Kenneth Branagh’s low points as a director, which is a shame as it seems a lot of effort was put into that film. It’s fair that Kenneth Branagh has had a chequered career.

I have very fond memories of seeing 2015’s ‘Cinderella’ directed by Kenneth Branagh at the cinema. It wasn’t planned on my parents and my part to see the film on the big screen and it became an Easter treat in 2015. I’m glad we took on that treat as we soon took the film home to own on DVD. 🙂

‘Cinderella’ is a story that has enchanted millions over the years. Like I said in my review for the 1950 Disney film, there have been numerous productions of the story including in terms of film and theatre/pantomime productions. As of 2021, there’s a new ‘Cinderella’ film on Amazon Prime Video.

The Disney live-action remakes didn’t strike me as a prominent thing until 2015’s ‘Cinderella’ came along. I know ‘Maleficent’ was released beforehand but I wasn’t interested that. I’ve seen more Disney live-action remakes lately including 2017’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ and 2019’s ‘The Lion King’.

Many are divided over the Disney live-action remakes. Some say the originals are better whilst some say the updated versions are superior. I have my opinions about the Disney live-action remakes and I still stand by my own opinion that 2017’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is better than the original 1991 film.

I still have a soft spot for 1950’s ‘Cinderella’, but if may be allowed to provide perhaps an unpopular opinion here. I actually prefer 2015’s ‘Cinderella’ as opposed to 1950’s. That’s not to say the 2015 film is perfect. On the contrary, the 2015 film has flaws just as much as the 1950 animated film does.

But I think it’s fair to say I’m more in favour of live-action as opposed to animation. Sometimes that changes when it comes to being in favour of 1994’s ‘The Lion King’ as opposed to 2019’s, but on the whole, I feel I get more out of watching a live-action of a story I’ve already seen done in animation. 🙂

This is especially when 2015’s ‘Cinderella’ as a story explores areas that weren’t fully developed in the 1950 film. I especially refer to Cinderella’s growing up with her parents before her mother dies, leading to meeting her stepmother and her stepsisters and leading to meeting/falling in love with the Prince. 🙂

I find the character drama in 2015’s ‘Cinderella’ more engaging compared to the 1950 film. I got more out of the human characters as opposed to animal side characters that got more attention in the 1950 film. I like how the 2015 film is being its thing and it isn’t a live-action copy of the 1950 film.

I also like the world-building featured in this film by Kenneth Branagh. Like in his other films such as ‘Thor’, ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and ‘Artemis Fowl’, there are stunning shots of amazing vistas, including Cinderella’s home and the Prince’s castle which makes the film stunning beautiful and epic.

With the praises I’ve made about this film, it doesn’t hide that it can be a little repetitive in terms of its dialogue. This is especially when characters keep repeating the film’s moral message “Have courage and be kind”. Great moral, but it doesn’t have to be repeated throughout the film, does it?

I don’t recall Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker repeating “With great power comes great responsibility!” lots of times throughout the original ‘Spider-Man’ film trilogy. In fact, you could have easily replaced “Have courage and be kind” with “With great power comes great responsibility”. 😀

Lily James stars as Cinderella, also known as Ella in the film. I like Lily James’ performance as Cinderella and I’ve seen her in more things since then, such as ‘Darkest Hour’ and ‘Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!’ At this point, I hope to see Lily James again, as I’m watching the ‘Downton Abbey’ TV series.

There’s an argument that Cinderella became submissive when she was singing whilst her mice friends opened the window for her to be heard by the Prince and the others downstairs at the film’s end. I understand that argument and I think I would have handled the film’s climax quite differently.

It would have been better if Cinderella received a visit from her Fairy Godmother to pluck up the courage to make herself heard in order to get out of her prison in the attic and had the mice to help her. Otherwise, Cinderella is likeable enough as a character and I like how kind-hearted she can be. 🙂

Richard Madden stars as the Prince in the film, also known as Kit. Unlike the 1950 film where the Prince barely had a few lines and not enough character, the Prince in the 2015 film is better developed as a character and we see him having more interaction with Cinderella, which I enjoyed. 🙂

It did frustrate me when revisiting the 1950 film in 2019 that there wasn’t enough of the romantic love story between Cinderella and the Prince, as it was love-on-first-sight. Here in the 2015 film, the two meet in the woods before they meet each other at the ball. This is a really nice addition indeed.

Incidentally, Richard Madden used to date Jenna Coleman one time and he’s well-known for something called ‘Games of Thrones’ (which I’m sure isn’t very successful 😀 ). I’m currently looking forward to seeing him in the ‘MCU’ film ‘Eternals’. His performance as the Prince is very good here. 🙂

Cate Blanchett stars as Cinderella’s stepmother in the film, also known as Lady Tremaine. I believe she’s called Lady Tremaine in the 1950 film and its sequels too. For me, Cate Blanchett is well-known for playing Lady Galadriel in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ film trilogy. This is a pretty different role for her.

While less Galadriel as the wicked stepmother, she’s definitely on her way to becoming the villainous Hela in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. 😀 I enjoyed Cate Blanchett’s interpretation of Cinderella’s evil stepmother. Whilst not as scary as the original, she does have an interesting character development as a villain. 🙂

You can see why she treats Cinderella the way she does. She’s not the mother figure for Cinderella and she becomes jealous by the love that Cinderella and her father had for each other before he died. She can be manipulative and that scene where she smashed Cinderella’s glass slipper shocked me.

Helena Bonham Carter stars as the Fairy Godmother in the film. Honestly, this is one of the better film roles I’ve seen Helena Bonham Carter in compared to ‘Les Misérables’. 😀 It’s also unusual to see her start off as an old hag before she becomes the Fairy Godmother in the glistening blue dress here.

It should also be noted that the Fairy Godmother is the narrator of the film. I don’t recall not realising that when I saw the film on the big screen back in 2015, though I should probably have sussed it out. It’s also a pity that Helena Bonham Carter only appeared as the Fairy Godmother in one scene.

Then again, the same can be said for the Fairy Godmother in the 1950 film, so what the heck? There’s also Stellan Skarsgård as the Grand Duke in the film. Thankfully, Stellan Skarsgård isn’t walking around butt-naked or going crazy like he did in ‘Thor: The Dark World’. Still can’t shake that off! 😀

It’s interesting that the Grand Duke happens to be played out more as a villain in the film compared to the 1950 film where he and the King were a comedic double act. I don’t know if it makes the Grand Duke’s character better as a villain in the 2015 film, but it’s an intriguing and a different angle.

The film also features the two stepsisters Holiday Grainger as Anastasia and Sophie McShera as Drizella. Wait a minute! Sophie McShera from ‘Downton Abbey’ is in this film? And she’s playing one of the stepsisters here! Wow! That’s a role miles apart from playing sweet Daisy in ‘Downton Abbey’.

Like the 1950 film, Anastasia and Drizella are played out as the annoying and selfish stepsisters who have no chance of winning the heart of the Prince. Mind you, we get a little bit of character moments when Cinderella interacts with them and at least they’re apologetic to Cinderella towards the end. 🙂

Sir Derek Jacobi stars as the King in the film. For me, Derek Jacobi played the Master in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘Utopia’ and he would play him in the Big Finish audio series ‘The War Master’. I would later see him in films like 2017’s ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ and the 2019 film ‘Tolkien’. 🙂

I like how the King is developed as a character in the film compared to the comic relief he was in the 1950 film. The King has more interaction with his son Kit and he turns out to be a kind-hearted man. On his deathbed, the King gives his son his blessing for him to find Cinderella in order to marry her. 🙂

The film also features Nonso Anozie as the Captain of the Guard and the Prince’s friend, Ben Chaplin as Ella’s father, Hayley Atwell as Ella’s mother, Rob Brydon as Master Phineus, Jana Pérez as Princess Chelina of Zaragoza and Alex Macqueen (Hey, another Master from ‘Doctor Who’ 😀 ) as the Royal Crier.

There’s also Tom Edden as the Lizard Footman (I liked the scene he had with Cinderella, giving her courage to enjoy herself at the ball) and Josh O’Connor as the Ballroom Palace Guard. Like the mice characters, Lucifer the cat gets a very limited amount of things to do throughout the 2015 film.

During the film’s end credits, I liked the latest renditions of a couple of songs that were performed in the 1950 film, including ‘A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes’ performed by Lily James and ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’ performed by Helena Bonham Carter. There’s also the new song ‘Strong’ performed by Sonna Rele. 🙂

The DVD special features are as follows. There’s an animated short film called ‘Frozen Fever’, which was shown before the 2015 ‘Cinderella’ film at the cinema. I found this a nice icebreaker before the ‘Cinderella’ 2015 film began at the cinema, focusing on Elsa celebrating Anna’s birthday whilst getting a cold.

On Blu-ray, as well as ‘Frozen Fever’, there are also behind-the-scenes featurettes like ‘A Fairy Tale Comes to Life’, ‘Costume Test Fun’, ‘Staging the Ball’ and ‘Ella’s Furry Friends’. There’s also an alternative opening called ‘Ella’s Childhood’ with an introduction by director Kenneth Branagh.

The 2015 film ‘Cinderella’ is a Disney live-action remake I highly recommend checking out and it’s one of Kenneth Branagh’s better films. There’s no denying that the film’s flawed in places, but I find this as enjoyable as the 1950 film. In some respects, it’s superior in terms of characters and drama. 🙂

Despite me saying I prefer the 2015 film over the 1950 film, does that mean the 2015 film is better than the 1950 film? It depends on how you look at it. If you prefer animation over live-action or vice versa, it’s up to you. I certainly found the 2015 film an intriguing new take on the ‘Cinderella’ story. 🙂

By the way, Simon Kinberg who co-produced the ‘X-Men’ films is one of the producers of this film. Astonishing! 😀

‘Cinderella’ (2015) rating – 8/10

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