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Movie Review

Cinderella

MPAA Rating: PG for mild thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Denica McCall
CONTRIBUTOR

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Family Kids
Genre:
Family Fantasy Adventure Romance Drama
Length:
1 hr. 52 min.
Year of Release:
2015
USA Release:
March 13, 2015 (wide—3,600+ theaters)
DVD: September 15, 2015
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

having courage and being kind, even when suffering

celebrating purity and innocence

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

sin of jealousy and covetousness

oppression / being at the mercy of a cruel new family

difficulty of being a servant instead of a family member—and the importance of Cinderella’s serving with dignity and kindness, instead of responding with mean words and actions

Copyright, Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Cinderella’s happiness results from being good, pure, kind and forgiving. The stepmother’s unhappiness comes from being rude, cruel and jealous.

What is goodness and righteousness?

true ugliness—and beauty—are on the inside, not the outside

forgiving those who harm us instead of seeking revenge

difficulty of losing a mother, and wife

purpose of fairy tales

Couple in love. Photo copyrighted
TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

goodness of God

Featuring: Lily James … Cinderella
Hayley Atwell … Cinderella's Mother
Helena Bonham CarterFairy Godmother
Richard Madden … Prince Charming
Cate BlanchettLady Tremaine
Holliday Grainger … Anastasia
Sophie McShera … Drizella
Stellan SkarsgårdGrand Duke
Nonso Anozie … Captain
Derek Jacobi … The King
Ben Chaplin … Cinderella's Father
Rob Brydon … Painter
Eloise Webb … Young Ella
more »
Director: Kenneth Branagh—“Thor,” “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Producer: Walt Disney Pictures
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

“Have courage and be kind”

Last night my mom and I went to the theater and ended up in a room full of giggly girls of varying ages, excited to see the newest version of the very classic Cinderella story. I enjoyed the feeling of nostalgia that seemed to permeate the atmosphere. Sure, nowadays there seems to be an endless amount of remakes, almost to the point of overkill. But this film was different. I feel like it resurrected something of simplicity and purity from the past, and I found the experience quite refreshing.

Most of us know the Cinderella story chiefly from the Disney cartoon that came out in 1950. This is a live action remake of the story, holding to its main themes pretty well. It’s the tale of a young girl named Ella who grows up in her parents’ farmhouse and who is deeply loved by them both. Sorrow enters the household when Ella’s mother dies from illness, and her mother’s last “commission” to Ella is that she would always “have courage and be kind.”

Ella holds to this promise out of love and respect for her mother; then, when she is a young woman, she gives her father her loving blessing for him to marry a widower and take her and her two daughters into their household. Ella’s new stepmother (Cate Blanchett) seeks to take over and run the household. She takes especial advantage of her position and of Ella during the times Ella’s father is away on business.

While on one of his trips, her father falls ill and dies, and Ella is left heartbroken. Her stepmother and sisters begin to treat her with even more cruelty in the absence of the one who truly loved her and make her into their household slave, instead of a member of the family. She is treated unjustly and cruelly.

One day, she tries to run away and unknowingly meets the prince in the woods, and they have an initial attraction. He later announces a ball in which he will choose a bride (by insistence of his ailing father), and invites not only the nobility to attend but every class of citizen in hopes he might meet Ella again.

The rest of the story is familiar, but, as I stated, there are many things about this remake that I find especially refreshing. The themes of courage and kindness are very prominent throughout. I appreciate how they focus on Ella’s relationship with her stepmother and sisters and how she deals with their cruelty. She doesn’t let the “labels” they put on her, or what they tried to make her into, define her. She remembers who she is, a daughter deeply loved by her mother and father, someone who has value.

She recognizes that other people can’t tell her who she is. This is such a powerful truth for all of us. There will always be people who try to put us in their box or tell us who we are, but if we know the truth, that we are sons and daughters living in our Heavenly Father’s affection, we won’t be moved or changed by their hurtful words and actions. They also did a great job of showing the contrast between the way Ella handled her grief versus her stepmother. Ella chooses courage and forgiveness, while her stepmother chooses to inflict her own pain on others and remains bitter.

I like the mention of the fact that if it were not for the cruelty of her step-family, Ella would have never run away and met the prince in the woods—which turns into the ultimate happy ending for her. God often uses our sufferings to bring us into good and beautiful places in life, so this is a great reminder.

Finally, the theme of forgiveness is portrayed quite powerfully in the film, where Ella very sincerely forgives her stepmother at the end.

The only objectionable content (with children in mind) is as follows: Many of the ladies show cleavage in the way they were dressed. In one scene, there is a fresco shown briefly in the palace that shows a lot of half naked people. And when we first meet Ella’s fairy godmother, it is very dark, and she appears a bit scary, until she transforms herself into a beautiful woman in a white dress. When Ella escapes from the palace after the ball, the scene may be intense for little ones. There is a scene in Ella’s house where her stepmother is having a party, and they are gambling. There is virtually no violence, no language, and only one kiss is shown, which is after Ella and the prince are wed.

I love this quote toward the end of the film: “Perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take is to be seen for who we truly are.” Ella has to make this choice to defy the lies of the ones who have tried to make her into something she is not in order to present herself to the prince. She has to have the courage to come to him as she is, in her dirty rags and without a high position in society, trusting that he’ll love her simply for who she is. So many of us pretend to be something we’re not to gain the love we desire. But being shamelessly who we are is the ultimate place of freedom.

I definitely recommend this film for families with children ages five and up. It is a sweet, well done and refreshing classic brought back to life for our day and age.

Violence: Mild / Profanity: None / Sex/Nudity: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I’m just going to come out and say it… this movie was amazing. It was so refreshing to see Disney return to its roots. Other than some outfits, this movie was as pure as when Disney first took the project in 1950. There were mixes of Disney’s animated film and parts of the original fairy tale, which was very impressive.

The performances by Lily James and Cate Blanchett were by far some of the most incredible performances I have seen in a Disney movie (I think the last time was when I watched “Into the Woods”). Cate Blanchett gives a whole new layer to Lady Tremaine. She was a villain, but a villain you understood.

In short, this is a family-friendly, clean Disney movie. and I couldn’t be more impressed with the direction Bob Iger (the CEO) and Disney have been heading lately. Keep up the good work Disney!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Alexander Malsan, age 24 (USA)
Positive—I must be more girlie than I thought, because I’m a 43 year old woman, and I loved it. I felt like the audience (mostly female), of all ages, enjoyed it. Morally, it is one of the better ones I have seen in awhile. I liked the emphasis on being kind to others. As an older person, you realized (if the story were real, which it’s not) that the wicked stepmother is indeed cruel, but is using the only assets she thinks she has to score financial stability for her two daughters—in the day and time of the setting—that only happened through marriage—women had no other way to prosper.

But the movie brings to light that the stepmother grew cruel and bitter instead of choosing, like Cinderella, who also endured great loss, to grow better.

Loved the beautiful old fashioned dresses and “courting” per se. That’s the girly part :).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Angela, age 43 (USA)
Positive—The latest retelling of (cinder)Ella (which you should see for yourself) brings to life to a fairy tale that most grew up watching. ***SPOILER*** In the closing minutes of the film, Ella softly steps down the worn steps from the attic. The narrator whispers words of wisdom. (That forced me to reach for my phone, lest I forget them.) Keep in mind, as she slips down the steps, she no longer wears a beautiful ballgown floating in a cloud of glimmer. Rather the faded remnants of the dress, her mother made her, hang dirty and torn. Her feet tread soft and light, perhaps the fear running through her head causing her pace to slow.

Will he reject me since I am dressed in rags? Will he reject me since I am not a princess? Or maybe it is just because she no longer graces slippers made of glass?

Perhaps the greatest risk any of us will ever take is to be seen for who we truly are—whispers the narrator. Ella no longer graces the stairs with dazzling beauty. A blue ballgown glimmering with magic does not brighten her smile. The beauty is found instead in her heart and on her lips. She, curtsying before the prince, offers “can you take me as I am?” Standing before the prince in rags, she stands as she is. All at once, a ragged servant and a beautiful princess. ***END SPOILER***

While most would scoff at her rags, the prince has seen her heart. He has seen the courage and kindness that direct her steps. It was this scene that still resonates with me. I went expecting a familiar tale, beautiful gowns, an entertaining movie. Instead I drove away with a burning thought. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jacobb, age 27 (USA)
Positive—I have been to see the movie twice, once in the regular format and the other in AVX. Wow, this is an excellent film, and, as others have mentioned, it is so good to see Disney go back to its roots, to present good and clean entertainment. It is a British and American cooperative project. There is absolutely no swearing, including no misuse of God’s name, and only goodness—“gosh” are used in a couple of places.

I have a Cinderella movie collection of about 15 movies, and I was very glad to see them stick to a classic version of the story with very little changes to the story we all know and love. Although “The Slipper and the Rose” with Richard Chamberlain is my favourite version with “Ever After” as a close second, this is probably the best that has ever been presented of the basic Cinderella story. It also has excellent messages of being kind and forgiving, and honouring your parents. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kathy Pj, age 54 (Canada)
Positive—It was a little slow to start, but I liked it over all. The premise of being courageous and kind was a basic truth, but as a Christian it lacked the full truth of being free in Christ. Only the small and toned-down magic could be considered slightly offensive. The little girls will love all the swirling glittery dresses. It brought me back to my own childhood. It was imaginative and fun. I loved that the “ugly” step-sisters were ugly inside and not outside.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Trina, age 47 (USA)
Positive—Well, this movie was a pleasant surprise coming from Hollywood/England. It was superb. The directing from Kenneth Branagh was touching. He stayed true to the original story. Her dress scenes were beautiful. Special effects were outstanding. The carriage was spectacular. It brought tears to a old man like me; but don’t tell anyone. I have to try to keep true to my manhood.

I’m going to try to see this again in IMAX. There was one person that was miscast, and not for his acting. We won’t get in to that. He still was good. Go see the movie with the whole family. I said to my wife, “Come on, there could have been hundreds of girls that could have fit in them glass shoes”. My wife said, “But these were magical glass shoes that only Cinderella could wear. Wow, she’s smart.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Robert Garcia, age 67 (USA)
Positive—This movie was perhaps the best movie I have ever seen. The overall message was awesome!! I also enjoyed the actors and actresses. Disney did a fabulous job with this movie. I walked away from seeing this movie praying that my girls would grow up with the same attitude that Cinderella had in all her situations. She was portrayed as genuine in her beliefs and enthralled with her love for the Prince. The special effects were also very good. Thank You Disney.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Julie, age 48 (USA)
Positive—Finally, a Cinderella that’s true to the original Disney story. The animated Disney classic is my all-time favorite of the classics. I was so happy to see them stick to the original. It’s a great story that doesn’t need anything else added. My husband, four children (17, 14, 12, 10), and I loved it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Lisa, age 49 (USA)
Positive—The latest adaptation of the classic fairy tale “Cinderella” is a cinematic live-action rendition from Walt Disney Pictures. (ABC had done a live-action, made-for-television version in 1997 starring Brandy, Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters and Jason Alexander). The animated version is, of course, a classic. Perfect for all ages. Like last year’s MALEFICENT, this live-action version of CINDERELLA continues the trend (begun with Disney’s own “Beauty and the Beast” and continued with FROZEN) that true love doesn’t necessarily reside in a handsome prince.

True love can be the love of a sibling, a mother figure or a father. These films show that true love is the most powerful magic of all, and as Christians, we know this to be especially true. Shakespeare veteran Sir Kenneth Branagh expertly handles the material, and proves he is a master at his craft. The casting is spot-on, as usual, and the visuals are nothing short of epic. The ballroom scene in this film comes close to rivaling the ballroom scene in “Beauty and the Beast,” in my opinion (and that says a lot). Mr. Branagh also wrote the first song that plays during the end credits of the movie. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—D, age 29 (USA)
Positive—This is one of the best Cinderella stories ever filmed and one of the best Walt Disney Movies ever created. Pure family, filmmaking magic, as the magical spirit of “Disney” is captured to a very high degree in this movie. It’s a well written script, the acting is inspired, the film has a dazzlingly authentic look that is beautifully edited, and the director understood the movie has to look and feel “enchanted,” and executes this amazingly well. Lilly James as Cinderella captures the essence of the idea of the goodness of Cinderella and is spectacular. Supporting her are Kate Blanchett as the harsh Stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother. Kenneth Branagh directs. Wonderful movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—L. Cooper, age 54 (USA)
Positive—Disney’s newest telling of the Cinderella story is satisfyingly clean but so sugary sweet, I almost felt as though I had to brush my teeth after watching it. A few surprises in this all too familiar story would have been welcomed. “Have courage and be kind” is okay for a tagline. I like what Ella told the Prince when he was hunting the stag, “Just because it’s what’s done, doesn’t mean it should be done.” That opens up a world of topics for discussion. And from the fairy godmother, “What is a bowl of milk? Nothing. But kindness makes it everything.”

Overall, it isn’t great, but it is good enough to reach and teach its target audience of young girls.

Ever After” with Drew Barrymore in the leading role, is a better version of this timeless classic. It has a smarter script and more defined characters.
A nice moment near the end of the film that could have made a good story great was when Cinderella turns around to say to the stepmother “I forgive you.” The stepmother cowers down behind the banister (picturesque of being jailed was my assumption). Her forgiveness was not solicited nor welcomed. Imagine if she smiled genuinely for the first time and embraced her stepdaughter. She then could become part of the joyful kingdom of Cinderella and the prince who became king. Only submit that because it reminds me of Christ on the cross Who said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Forgiveness that was not solicited nor welcomed at the time by those who put Him in that horribly fatal position. And now He lives patiently waiting for sinful humanity who are loved and forgiven if only we will believe He is the risen Lord and ask to receive it. Then we become part of his joyful Kingdom.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Jeff Leslie, age 58 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—People have forgotten how to make good movies. This movie is witless, shallow, nonsensical and often very boring. Not a morally bad movie, but it left me wondering why it was even made. The classic animated version is superior by far.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 2
—James, age 29 (USA)
Neutral—Perhaps I went into this movie expecting too much because of all the positive ratings that other viewers left, but I walked out feeling disappointed. Normally I do not like Cate Blanchett as an actress, however, I actually enjoyed her in this movie (possibly because she played the “bad guy”). I was really interested to see Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother, but was disappointed that she was only in the movie for five minutes at the most, which was just not long enough to develop her character.

General things I didn’t like: 1. Cinderella’s step-sister calling her a wench (yes, she is the bad guy, but the language is akin to calling her a certain five-letter word that starts with “b,” and is not appropriate for a children’s movie). 2. The script—it was flat, boring, blah. 3. The message to young children that as people take care of animals, so fairy godmothers take care of people.

General things I did like: 1. The scene where Cinderella is running home from the palace after the ball (utter chaos, and really well done special effects). 2. The animation of the animals. 3. Cinderella’s mother’s message to her to, “Have courage and be kind.” Even to people who treat you horridly!

If you like Cinderella stories, this one is acceptable, but I enjoyed the acting and script in “Ever After” much more (I have not watched “Ever After” in YEARS, so although I remember very much enjoying it, I do not remember if it is at all child-appropriate or not). Also, my six-year-old was bored twenty minutes into “Cinderella” (she is more of an animated movie fan), while my eight-year-old sat through the whole thing quite happily.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Matildab, age 35 (Canada)
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was so motivational and beautiful. Some people said that this movie was boring and monotonous in its motto, “Have courage and be kind,” but, on the contrary, it sent a good message to the audience. Her dress did dip low during some of the movie, which I wasn’t too fond of. But besides that, I would honestly love to watch this movie all over again!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Mona, age 17 (USA)
Positive—This is the best movie I have EVER seen. Ever. I, being a teenage girl, obviously knew the plot and sort of how the movie was going to play out because, naturally, all of us girls have dreamed of being her, Cinderella. But, oh, I was not at all expecting—AT ALL—to fall SO in love with not only the prince, but also the amount of kindness in Cinderella’s heart.

Now, I don’t advise for men or boys to watch the movie, because the dresses in this film are very low-cut, but, if you want an awesome girls night out, or just an amazing movie night, WATCH THIS MOVIE. “Have courage and be kind.” is the theme of the movie, and I learned so very much from Cinderella’s kind spirit and forgiving heart.

Our family doesn’t watch any movies that take God’s name in vain or uses bad language so, this movie won a major thumbs up for being completely clean, and also not suggestive. (If you are anything like me, you might want to bring a few tissues along because this movie is really touching and sweet.) If you want a perfect night or day filled with happily-ever-afters, go watch this ;)
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Lena, age 16 (USA)

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