If you are familiar with the 1950 animated production of Cinderella also produced by Disney, then the latest live-action version may not offer anything new to you. This new version is simply a retelling of that 1950s classic. Both versions are derived from Cendrillon, by Charles Perrault in 1697; Featuring a girl forced into servitude, a fairy godmother, the changing of pumpkins and animals into a coach with horses and footmen, and glass slippers.
The casting is spot on. Lily James as Ella plays the part of the humble country girl well. Cate Blanchett is the perfect evil step-mother, because this is how you believe she acts in real life. When asked by Cinderella why she is treated as she is Blanchett says “Because you are young, and beautiful, and good.” and then stops herself. The realization is that the step-mother is none of these things and resents Cinderella for it. The two step-sisters are sufficiently stuck up and insensitive, and the goose plays a convincing goose. Richard Madden plays the Prince, who is given something of a nickname of “Kit,” but does not go by the name of “Prince Charming.”
The primary complaint I heard about the film is that it offers nothing new to the Cinderella story. It is essentially a retelling of the animated version, despite what the previews claim. Because the last year’s Maleficent changed and added to the story of Sleeping Beauty, the expectation, for some, was that this new Cinderella would do the same. The example given was Ever After: A Cinderella Story which seemed to add a lot of new detail or circumstance to the Cinderella story. However, the differences can likely be explained that Ever After is closer to the Brothers Grimm version Aschenputtel than to the version Disney chose to base their films on.
There are no songs in this film, and the mice do not talk, although Cinderella clearly has some innate ability to communicate with animals. We are also given explanation of why she is named ‘Cinderella.’ I am sure many people have always assumed her name was simply ‘Cinderella’ without question. But the title character’s first name is actual Ella, and transforms into Cinderella.
Bottom-line, if you enjoy the classic Disney animated film and want to see a live-action version of that, then Cinderella will be right up your alley. If you are expecting Disney to evolve the character from their established story line, then you may be in for disappointment.