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Cinderella Review – Is a Predictable but Delightful Musical

Another ‘Cinderella’ story, another day. How many different interpretations do we need to hear this oft-adapted folk tale recounted and retold? Disney’s 1950 animated masterpiece of the same name was without a doubt the most popular of them all, and many filmmakers since then have come up with their own renditions, whether animated or live-action. There were also modern retellings of the classic ‘Cinderella’ narrative, most notably the Drew Barrymore-starring ‘Ever After’ (1998) and ‘A Cinderella Story’ (2004), starring Hilary Duff and Chad Michael Murray.

Kay Cannon — best known for authoring the ‘Pitch Perfect’ trilogy — opts for the Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor-starred ‘Moulin Rouge’ path in this latest ‘Cinderella’ picture, which is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video — while re-imagining the traditional story into a post-feminist spin. The story’s premise, however, stays the same: The titular child (except that her name is reduced to Ella here) is an outcast who is regularly mistreated by her cruel stepmother (Idina Menzel) and merciless stepsisters (Maddie Baillio’s Malvolia and Charlotte Spencer’s Narissa). She lives in a cellar with her beloved mice as her only true companions (voiced by James Acaster, James Corden, and Romesh Ranganathan).

To cut a long story short, Ella transforms into a princess for one night thanks to the assistance of a fairy godmother. However, in Cannon’s rendition, the fairy godmother is a genderless version known as Fab G, played by Billy Porter. Ella’s three mice are mysteriously converted into footmen carrying Ella in a horse carriage, all dressed up in a lovely gown with a pair of gleaming glass slippers. However, there is a catch: the enchantment only lasts till midnight, so she must make the most of her limited time to achieve what she desires. And that is gaining the man she loves, who turns out to be a lovely prince (Prince Robert, played by Nicholas Galitzine).

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Ella (played by singer Camila Cabello) is a feisty and ambitious teenager who aspires to be a dressmaker someday in this updated ‘Cinderella.’ She also believes in gender equality, which means that women should be able to operate their own businesses and do whatever they choose with their lives.

And, as previously stated, the film’s ‘Moulin Rouge’ route refers to the use of jukebox musical, dominating most of the screentime with familiar pop hits ranging from the townspeople singing Janet Jackson’s ‘Rhythm Nation’ to Ella and Prince Robert performing Des’ree’s ‘You Gotta Be’ and Queen’s ‘Somebody to Love,’ respectively. Elsewhere, Idina Menzel performs Madonna’s ‘Material Girl,’ and Fab G performs Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1975 hit single ‘Shining Star’ at one point. The overall song numbers are all dynamic and well-composed. However, the film outstays its welcome when it comes to its original lead track, ‘Million to One.’ The song isn’t horrible; it’s simply overly repetitious to the point where Cabello needs to sing it three times in this flick.

Speaking of Cabello, the former Fifth Harmony member-turned-solo singer made a strong first impression in her acting debut in ‘Cinderella.’ It also helps that she is charming and hits the proper notes in her feisty role as Ella. Her co-star Nicholas Galitzine performs less well as Prince Robert, who relies primarily on his good looks to carry his acting. Meanwhile, Idina Menzel had a terrific time playing the nasty and, at times, sympathetic stepmother. Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver, who play King Rowan and Queen Beatrice, respectively, round out the cast, and Tallulah Greive, who plays Princess Gwen, provides equally strong support.

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Not to mention the trio (James Acaster, James Corden, and Romesh Ranganathan) who give the voices for the computer-generated mice. I was expecting them to be little more than distracting comedic relief at first. Fortunately, their cameos provided just the proper number of lighthearted and entertaining moments without being overbearing. Except for one brief, ugly sequence starring James Corden supposed to elicit laughs (but not for me) that should have been cut entirely.

‘Cinderella’ also has rich production and costume designs, and the film’s nearly two-hour running time practically flies by thanks to Cannon’s pacy direction.

The film is not a current musical classic, but rather more akin to Hugh Jackman’s ‘The Greatest Showman.’ ‘Cinderella,’ despite all of the basic storytelling beats seen in most contemporary adaptations of classic folk/fairy tales, remains a beautiful piece of live-action musical worth streaming.

Cinderella Review – Is a Predictable but Delightful Musical
Cinderella Review – Is a Predictable but Delightful Musical
Cinderella Review – Is a Predictable but Delightful Musical
Cinderella Review – Is a Predictable but Delightful Musical
Cinderella Review – Is a Predictable but Delightful Musical
Cinderella Review – Is a Predictable but Delightful Musical
Cinderella Review – Is a Predictable but Delightful Musical
Cinderella Review – Is a Predictable but Delightful Musical

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