By: Dan Tomasik
I’m going to get a lot of flack for saying it, but this looks really, really bad. I grew up with Disney’s Cinderella, and between me watching it as a kid, my younger sister watching it as a kid, and my youngest sister watching it as a kid, I’ve seen the movie dozens of times. Here’s the thing, it still holds up all these years later. This one looks ready to fall flat on its face.
Looking at this trailer and thinking back to the original animated masterpiece, I’m truly understanding what an achievement it was. They made this story so enjoyable, so entertaining, so beloved. This version just feels like a bland morality tale with over-bloated visuals.
The animated movie wasn’t solely about Cinderella, in fact she was more of a secondary character. It was the supporting cast we spent the most time with. The mice, the stepsisters, the King, the Arch Duke, Lucifer the cat, etc. Cinderella was the strand that connected all of them, but we were always viewing her struggle from the eyes of someone else. They didn’t hit us over the head with her suffering, nor did she continuously draw attention to it. She was a caring soul who never let the pain she endured get to her, but always put on a brave face to give her friends hope. She never asked for a prince or a fairy godmother. Both came completely out of nowhere. She also never asked for true love or a happily ever after, all she wanted was to get through her day. It was impossible not to root for her.
This time she is the main focus. The backstory that took up only a few minutes of the original’s time is now put center stage. A strong emphasis is placed on how dramatic and unfair and mean the world is to her and how hard she struggles with it every single day. Also, like almost every fairy tale princess of recent adaptations/remakes, she falls for the handsome prince when they coincidentally meet in the woods. I’m not kidding, this studio does the exact same first-meeting in every movie. The guiding principle that she will carry with her throughout her life, as spoon-fed to her via her mother, is:
Have courage and be kind!* Ella, you have more kindness in your little finger than most people possess in their whole body! Where there is kindness, there is goodness! And where there is goodness, there is magic!
Lucifer the cat is apparently present, as are the mice and the Arch Duke, but the main focus is on Cinderella, the Prince, and the Stepmother (Cate Blanchett). Do you know how much we saw of the Prince in the animated movie? The first time he was on screen was at the ball when he bowed at a guest, then yawned. The first time he spoke was when Cinderella ran away. The next time we saw him was at the wedding, and he spoke not a word. This movie is trying so hard to sell a true love story, it’s forgetting what made the original so poignant and spontaneous.
Looking at it this way, it’s hardly a compelling story. What’s the main struggle for our lead? “I’m beautiful and kind, but mean people are making my life hard.” Forgive me, but welcome to the world. This version of Cinderella is basically asking the universe to give her happily ever after because she deserves it. The original just asked for a chance to go to the ball.
*I use exclamation points because the smile on Ella’s dying(?) mother’s face is so incredibly big.