Monday, March 16, 2015

If I Were a Little Girl, I Would Have Been Blown Away by 'Cinderella'

I liked the movie, but the “Cinderella” tale has been told so many times already in so many ways that there will be always a part of me that will think of Disney’s live-action Cinderella as needless and uninspired.  Moreover, the anime series Cinderella Monogatari will probably always be my most favorite version of the Cinderella story ever, and every other version that I would encounter would always pale in comparison.  So, at most, I consider Cinderella a fun, pleasurable movie that is definitely recommendable for the whole family to watch.  It’s good entertainment, but not remarkably great. 

But that said, I nonetheless understand the charms of the movie.  If I were a little girl of around six to ten years of age who went to watch it in a theater this past week, I would have been blown away by the experience.  The Frozen Fever short film that ran before the movie would be a wonderful treat already.  But it would be mere appetizer to the bright, optimistic loveliness of the movie.  I would have adored everything about it – excitedly consuming all the pretty things I’m seeing.  I would probably have been giggling in delight, like the little girl that I am, during and a few hours after the movie.

Cinderella flawlessly embodied into film the kind of emotional sense of wonder that fairy tale stories aroused in us when we encountered them for the first time as kids.  A big chunk of the credits for this impact definitely goes to the stunningly gorgeous production value – from the costumes to the set, everything about it was an aesthetic success that brought the fairy tale-ness of the story to life.  The visual effects also considerably added to the enchantment.  The sequence where the Fairy Godmother prepared Cinderella for the ball has been especially spectacular.      
“So its form is lovely, but how about its substance?” you might ask.  Well, a large part of the story still possesses the worn-out plot elements of the Cinderella story.  Still, there were enough original ideas to make this retelling worth checking out.  It’s actually well-written and well-directed.  Cinderella was pure cotton candy, but though it was not significantly thoughtful, it however has enough thematic and character depths to avoid being “infuriatingly sweet and dumb.” 

After Maleficent and Cinderella, I’m still not a fan of Disney’s recent decisions of adapting their classic fairy tale animated movies (which themselves are adaptations of classic fairy tale literature) into live-action movies.  It gives the feeling that they are beginning to lack the imagination for developing original material.   However, after Cinderella, I also start to get the feeling that I might get used to the trend after all.     

Miscellaneous musings: 
  • Cinderella won the day with her grace, positive attitude, and femininity.  In a “modern” culture which prefers its heroines to have tough, no-pushover personalities, I find this aspect of Cinderella refreshing.  There is as much strength in answering cruelty with kindness as kicking scoundrels’ butts. 
  • The cast had stellar performances all around, but Cate Blanchett killed it as the Wicked Stepmother – she was a very interesting, complex villainess.  But, hey, you don’t expect something lesser from a talented Cate Blanchett.     
  • Next to Cinderella’s blue dress, the Wicked Stepmother had the best dresses.  Yep, I noticed and appreciated the dresses.     
  • I find Helena Bonham Carter’s role as the eccentric Fairy Godmother funny.  Not only because of Ms. Carter’s performance, but also because of the fact that the last time she was required to wield a wand for a role, she played the awesome, bloodthirsty Bellatrix Lestrange.  It was an amusing contrast.    
  • Her time in the movie was short, but I really enjoyed Agent Carter as Cinderella’s mother.
  • Honestly, prior to watching the movie, I had no idea that Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, and Hayley Atwell had roles in it.  (I had zero foreknowledge of what I would be getting from this movie.  I never read articles and never watched trailers about it prior to watching.)  Their appearances came as surprises to me.  Hence, I was easily delighted, approving, and welcoming of their performances.
  • Again, I’m not excited of the prospect of having more live-action adaptations of classic Disney animated features.  But, honestly, I’m intrigued on how a live-action Beauty and the Beast (which is currently in production) would look like. 
  • Also, I think that the best Disney animated movie that would be perfect for a live-action adaptation is The Black Cauldron.  Make it happen, Disney.  

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