One of Disney’s most iconic animated films gets the live action treatment in the 2015 version of “Cinderella.” Lily James stars as Ella, a beautiful young girl who loses her father and must become a servant for her wicked stepmother and stepsisters. It’s a modern update to the 1950 classic.
The Disney live action remakes are hit or miss, but I felt this one was a hit. No, it’s not as good as the original, but it’s still a very enjoyable remake. It does an excellent job of telling the story we all know and love. While Lily James wasn’t that well known going into this film, she stepped up and held her own along such big stars as Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter. Disney took the Superman approach of casting a relatively unknown in the main role and surrounding the unknown with big name stars. It worked for Christopher Reeve in Superman and I believe it worked for Lily James here.
Let’s talk about the supporting cast. Cate Blanchett is delightfully evil as Lady Tremaine. It takes something special to live up to how truly wicked of a stepmother she was in the animated film, but Blanchett shines. This film is a testament to her talent. Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter stars as the Fairy Godmother and does a solid job. She doesn’t stand out as much as she does in some of her roles, but Carter has made a name for herself as the unusual woman in Tim Burton movies. She plays so many weird characters that playing a Fairy Godmother seems like a return to normalcy. Carter’s talent speaks for itself and her performance is admirable. She and Lily James play off each other so well and you can see James’ confidence grow in the scenes with Carter.
I would’ve liked them to work in the classic music a little more than they did. You can hear Carter sing “Bippity-Boppity-Boo” during the transformation scene, but it’s just not as good. While Lily James has a beautiful voice, I don’t really care much for the music in this version. I think it’s just because it’s not as easy to sing along with.
Walt Disney’s favorite piece of animation of all time was the transformation of Cinderella’s ruined dress to the dress she wore at the ball. While I don’t know what Disney would’ve thought of the CGI transformation in this film, it was still an absolutely beautiful scene. I don’t think it lives up to the original which, admittedly, is an animation wonder, but it does hold its own, which is about all you could ask of it.
If I were to rank the live action Disney remakes in order, of the ones I’ve seen, I think Cinderella is third. I still like “The Jungle Book” and “Beauty and the Beast” better, but this is still one I, thoroughly, enjoyed. It’s better than “Dumbo,” “Maleficent” or “The Lion King.” I would definitely recommend this version of “Cinderella” to any Disney fan.