Cinderella

Cinderella

It's not often that I watch a movie that manages to try both too hard and not hard enough at the same time. Where the newest version of Cinderella doesn't try hard enough is in the selection of the music for the cast to sing. Where it tries too hard is in trying to be hip and progressive. In both instances, each respective thing comes across as overbaked.
To get something completely straight, I have no problem reconfiguring material to fit a certain sensitivity for the audience of the moment. Indeed, I recently praised another adaptation of this material, 1998's Ever After, for adjusting it to that era's thinking. At the same time, these two movies are a study in contrasts.
For example, this version retains the supernatural elements, right down to the singing mice, one of whom is played by James Corden, who clearly learned nothing from Cats. (Then again, it also seems like Pierce Brosnan, who plays this version's king, learned nothing from Mamma Mia!, so...) It even retains a fairy godmother, though it makes the character a cringe inducing stereotype. It also tries to shoehorn in points, usually coming from an unnecessary princess, in an attempt to make the audience say, "Hey, that's relevant!" without a hint of subtlety.
In this version, singer Camila Cabello plays Ella, who's nicknamed Cinderella because, as the opening narration explains needlessly, "... she's always covered in cinders, and her stepsisters weren't clever." If you made it through that line without groaning, don't worry. The rest of the dialogue will give you many more chances.
Anyway, Ella isn't so much a servant to her stepmother (Idina Menzel) here as she is in other versions, given that the stepmother makes her own daughters do some chores, lest they don't marry money. (I warned you.) Ella is really an aspiring dress designer wanting to make it as a businessperson, but no one will take her seriously because she's a woman in a man's kingdom. At the same time, the prince (Nicholas Galitzine) is suffering from the usual "arranged marriage to a princess he doesn't love" syndrome. To describe the rest of the story would be redundant. You should know it by now.
As if the attempts at relevance weren't bad enough in the dialogue, the story has also become some sort of jukebox musical with the occasional original song thrown in, likely in an attempt to move some downloads. The problem is that the original songs aren't memorable, the covers are as overproduced as a Madonna song, and the mashup of "Whatta Man" and "Seven Nation Army" (SERIOUSLY!) is possibly the worst song I've heard since the soundtrack of 365 Days.
Is everything a waste? Well, no. Camila Cabello makes for a serviceable Cinderella, even though I'm not a fan of her singing, Idina Menzel makes a good stepmom, and the production design is top-notch. But, let's just say that Sony Pictures did the right thing by selling it to Amazon Studios. Cinderella would be DOA in theaters these days.

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