Cinderella ★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

“Life outside this basement starts right now.”

Cinderella is a 2021 romantic musical film based on the fairy tale of the same name by Charles Perrault. Written and directed by Kay Cannon, it follows Ella as she strives to become a successful dressmaker and also falls in love with the Prince.

Live action adaptations of folklore and fairytales are often hit-or-miss and whilst this isn’t produced by Disney, it’s hard not to compare with the last live action telling of this story and unfortunately for Cinderella 2021, it’s an utter mess.

Now I don’t want to rag on Camilla Cabello as this is her acting debut and it’s very possible for her to improve but she comes off pretty one note here — her acting never feels natural save for a few line deliveries and her singing, much like most of the casts’, is ruined by a tinny autotuned production which makes her often come off sharp.  I also feel like the corporate, base level feminism angle she’s given completely falls flat — one can practically feel the Sony bigwigs cackling at their whiteboard of poor marketing strategies.  Mulan (2020) had a similar issue where the writers forgot that even we feminists like a well-written, flawed female character who doesn’t just exist to tick boxes.

Nicholas Galitzine is a little better in the acting department, his screen presence feels a lot more naturalistic (still not quite as charming as Richard Madden however) but his singing is a mixed bag — with songs like Perfect by Ed Sheeran, he has something that actually suits his voice, but also he’s made to sing Somebody To Love by Queen and absolutely slaughters it — there’s also an absolutely baffling scene in which there’s a big dance number to Whatta Man by Salt-N-Pepa but he very jarringly bursts into Seven Nation Army and it becomes a very loud, very awkward medley that doesn’t at all work.

Idina Menzel is predictably good as the wicked Stepmother, but is given a forced redemption arc that forces the viewer to forget the physical abuse she gave Ella at the start of the movie  — neither of Ella’s stepsisters make much of an impact either, sadly.

Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver and Tallulah Grieve portray the family of Prince Robert and whilst it’s funny that they poke fun at Pierce’s bad singing, they’re pretty thin characters that only exist to further the movie’s weak critique of gender roles — Brosnan in particular is often cartoonish, and whilst I love him, he desperately needs a better agent (also him and Driver made me remember their Goldeneye scene together).

Billy Porter really does electrify the screen in his few minutes of screentime — he’s campy, but not too much to the point of mocking and I just wish he got more screentime, but no, unfortunately that went to… James Corden.

Dear Hollywood, I am begging you to stop hiring James Corden — Cats was bad enough, and here, he’s just not funny either.  Not even a six year old would laugh at him, but they might be scared of his shitty CGI.

If I have to praise something, the costuming here is legitimately nice, even if I prefer the 2015 dress by a country mile, but most of the rest of the film simply doesn’t work for me and the lack of chemistry between our leads made the pacing feel very lethargic a lot of the time.

Overall, Cinderella is an overlong, patronising and soulless fairytale retelling that attempts to be current but instead comes off shallow and ultimately, forgettable.

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