Review: Branagh's Cinderella

I call it Branagh's Cinderella because it really is--yes, with many visual nods to the original animated classic, but having seen most of his other productions, I saw his fingerprints all over this movie. (They're rather nice fingerprints.)

At times, watching the movie was almost like watching a moving painting: I don't know how he managed it, whether it's a question of lighting or lenses or set-dressing, but the effect was frequently astonishing. The nods to the original animated classic fell a little outside that visual style, but for the most part felt like graceful homages. The acting was entirely convincing, and I believed that Ella and Kit really and truly loved each other (or were well on their way) on the strength of their first interaction. But it was nearly as much about child-parent relationships, and those all rang true as well; the last scene of Kit with his father was both beautiful and heart-wrenching. It made me want to cling a bit to my own parents. And Ella's earlier anguish at the losses of both her parents nearly had me in tears.

Although the CGI was a little obvious at times, it was never lingered on long enough to truly bother me, and the sequence when the pumpkin carriage reverts to its original form had me laid out laughing.

The one weakness was the dialog; although some bits worked beautifully, other bits were almost irredeemably hokey. The fault for that, I fear, lies mostly with an overemphasis on the moral of the story. Which is not a bad moral, and is sufficiently supported by the story itself, but suffers from being repeated verbatim nearly ad nauseum. But Ella's character goes far to help mitigate that; she both believes it and is believable in it, and it was refreshing to see a different kind of strength than is often forced on female characters. Nothing can make up for all the de-virtuing that happened to most of the characters in Jackson's LotR, but she serves as kind of a balm to that. Truly a heroine worthy of admiration and aspiration.

All in all? I'm glad I watched it, and would willingly watch it again. Stands in interesting contrast to Ever After.
It was very refreshing to watch a movie where the hero and heroine don't do anything wrong at any point; where they are allowed to be truly virtuous.

Also, it really is a gorgeous movie. :D