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Laramie Movie Scope:
Cinderella (2015)

A lavish and heartfelt new Cinderella

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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March 17, 2015 -- I wasn't going to go see this because the story has been done to death, but this version was getting good reviews, so I went to the local theater yesterday, and I'm glad I did. This movie is beautifully produced. It features solid performances and the story is heartfelt, as effective as ever.

The best known film of this story is the 1950 Disney animated version. This new version, also by Disney Studios is live action, for the most part, but it has quite a bit of digital animation as well for the magic scenes. As much as possible, the story is told in the real world, but it doesn't scrimp on the magic when it comes to those magic scenes.

Cinderella is played by the lovely Lily James (of the “Downton Abbey” TV series). The wicked stepmother is played by Cate Blanchet (of the “Lord of the Rings” and “Hobbit” movies). Her spoiled daughters, Drisella and Anastasia, are played by Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger, respectively). The handsome prince is played by Richard Madden (“Game of Thrones” TV series) and the scheming Grand Duke is played by Stellan Skarsgård (of the “Thor” and “Avengers” movies). The actors in the film all give strong performances.

It's been years since I've seen any “Cinderella” movie, so I don't know if these are new elements, but they are new to me: In this version of the old fairy tale, Cinderella meets the prince prior to the grand ball. They meet during a royal hunt and she asks him not to kill the stag. Both are attracted to each other, but neither one knows the other's true identity.

The other thing that seemed new to me were the political machinations of the wicked stepmother and the Grand Duke, who conspire to hide the identity and whereabouts of Cinderella from the prince. The Grand Duke wants the prince to marry a princess who will strengthen the kingdom in an advantageous political alliance. He disapproves of the prince's plan to marry below his station.

These two story elements work well to set up the all-important meeting of the prince and Cinderella at grand ball and, later, their meeting when the prince learns who Cinderella really is. There are solid supporting performances by Helena Bonham Carter (“Les Misérables”) as the fairy godmother, Shakespearean actor Derek Jacobi as the king and Nonso Anozie (“The Grey”) as the captain. Alex Macqueen makes the most of his brief screen time as the expressive royal crier.

For those who liked the cute animated mice from the 1950 film, as well as the other cute animals, this film includes those, too, using CGI animation blended with live action footage. There is a good bit of humor in the film. The funniest scene involves a foot odor incident during one of the scenes involving finding a person to fit the glass slipper. There is a moral to the story as well: People should exhibit both courage, and kindness. Good advice.

This film is gorgeously staged with wonderful costumes, sets and production design. Scenic locations are lensed expertly by cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos. The lush musical score is by composer Patrick Doyle, a frequent collaborator with the director of this film, Kenneth Branagh (“Thor”). This is a fine new take on a very old story. This film rates a B.

Before the feature, there was a short, eight minute cartoon, “Frozen Fever” shown featuring the characters from the hit movie “Frozen”. Disney Studios still does this sometimes. Long ago, it was a common practice in movie theaters to show cartoons prior to the main feature.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2015 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)