Cinderella Blu-ray Review
Once upon a time, there was a girl called Ella…
Ella is a kind child who treats animals with dignity and is viewed as a princess (but not the bratty, gimme-gimme-gimme kind whose collection of FROZEN plushes will never be complete) by her parents. After her mother passes away, her father marries Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett, BLUE JASMINE), who has two wretched daughters, Drisella (Sophie McShera, DOWNTON ABBEY) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger, who played Bonnie in the 2013 miniseries BONNIE & CLYDE).
Ella (Lily James, also DOWNTON ABBEY) does her best to fit in, but is still subjected to horrible treatment from her new stepsisters and stepmother, who finds the attic a fitting spot for Ella to stay when she’s not doing chores around the estate. But no need to worry, because soon enough a Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter, who recently played Elizabeth Taylor in BURTON & TAYLOR) will come along, show off her magic and ensure Ella’s ticket to the ball. From there, it’s carriages, slippers and Prince Charming, here dubbed Kit (Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark on HBO’s GAME OF THRONES). But you knew that already…
While the general elements of the classic story as told by Disney in 1950 are all intact, a number of changes have been made. For example, there is a groan-worthy explanation for how Ella becomes Cinderella and no musical rendition of “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo.” There are also a number of updates, like using CGI to create the mice and adding a seemingly endless depth to the kingdom.
Despite all of the changes and upgrades, fans of the tale will be absolutely delighted by what’s before them, chiefly because this version still captures the magic of the tale (and when Gus and the gang turn into horses, it’s a dazzling sight). Director Kenneth Branagh, who has previously helmed Shakespeare adaptations and Marvel actioners, has again shown viewers his array of talents. With CINDERELLA, Branagh is able to let the story and characters work in a new dimension, giving it all a pulse it hasn’t had in 65 years (outside of Annie Leibovitz’s take, which featured Scarlett Johansson in the blue dress). Credit, too, belongs to the cast: James is enchanting, Blanchett plays her character with a biting sting and both McShera and Grainger both bring a piercing shrill to the stepsisters. Additionally, the costumes (by Sandy Powell, has three Oscars and deserves another nomination for her work here) and production design (by Dante Ferretti, who also has three Oscars and should be acknowledged for his work here) are gorgeous.
2015’s CINDERELLA won’t likely stand as the classic that the 1950 version does, but it is a welcome effort that serves as a demonstration that some of Disney’s finest animated achievements can be adapted with credibility into live-action pictures. After all, why should an ABC drama get to have all of the fun with these iconic characters?
Video: 2.39:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. CINDERELLA looks stellar on Blu-ray, with excellent details and a wealth of colors that show off the work of the costume and production designers and come through wonderfully in high-definition.
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French 5.1 Dolby Digital; Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The audio is also without fault and boasts clean dialogue, atmospheric sound effects and a crisp, balanced Patrick Doyle score.
A Fairy Tale Comes to Life (9:23): Director Kenneth Branagh, star Lily James and more discuss the tale’s themes and legacy.
Costume Test Fun (2:39): Various costumes (designed by Sandy Powell) are tested in front of the camera.
Staging the Ball (11:27): The extravagant sequence is put under the spotlight.
Ella’s Furry Friends (3:43): Branagh, as well as animal trainers Guillaume Grange and Julie Tottman, touch on the challenges of using live animals for the production.
Alternate Opening: Ella’s Childhood (3:02), which is introduced by Branagh.
FROZEN FEVER (7:56): The short that accompanied CINDERELLA in theaters.