Disney’s big kick right now is revisionist versions of classic fairy tales. ‘Sleeping Beauty’ became ‘Maleficent,’ a sympathetic look at the supposedly “evil” witch. Last Christmas’ ‘Into the Woods’ followed numerous fairy tales to find the unhappy endings after their “happily ever after.” Even ‘Frozen’ reconfigured numerous classic fairy tale tropes (the handsome price was secretly [SPOILER ALERT] the bad guy, and the film’s true love story was actually between a pair of sisters). What’s most surprising about Disney’s new live-action ‘Cinderella’ is how unsurprising it looks; it seems totally unlike those films in its old-school vibe.
The finished movie might certainly throw some twists into the formula, but what this trailer is selling is the ‘Cinderella’ everyone already knows, spruced up with modern effects and a lovely cast. Helena Bonham Carter is the Fairy Godmother and Cate Blanchett plays the Wicked Stepmother, about as good a one-two punch of benevolent and malevolent motherhood as you’re gonna find. Stellan Skarsgard plays a scheming duke and Lily James from ‘Downton Abbey’ is Cinderella herself.
The film is directed by Kenneth Branagh, hopefully working in a style closer to his Shakespeare adaptations than his ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.’ My wife is a huge Cinderella fan; she walked down the aisle at our wedding to a song from the original Disney film, which I’ve watched with her on numerous occasions. She’s pretty psyched for the live-action version and she’s glad it seemingly doesn’t take too many liberties with the story. I guess there’s comfort in the classics, particularly when they’re as familiar as an old glass shoe. ‘Cinderella’ opens in theaters on March 13.