Amazon Studios’ newest highly anticipated movie musical, Cinderella, is gaining widespread attention and is turning heads with its all-star cast. Directed by Kay Cannon, Cinderella is led by well known pop-star, Camilla Cabello. Alongside her, other notable names include: Billy Porter as the Fairy Godmother, Idina Menzel as the Stepmother, and Pierce Brosnan as King Rowan.
In a modern twist of the classic children’s fairytale, Cinderella is more than a damsel in distress and is rather a young woman with big dreams and aspirations. She has hopes of becoming a businesswoman and running her own dress shop. Through the presentation of bright and colorful performances, the themes of independence and identity are made well known.
Cinderella is a family friendly experience that displays strong talent in the film’s pre-production. A stand out visual aspect was the costuming. The women’s ballgowns were particularly exceptional and added a fantastical element to the classic fairytale. Porter’s Fairy Godmother costume also deserves recognition and appreciation with its incredible originality and uniqueness. The creative imagination that was shown in the costuming designs gave a nod to the intricate and fabulous details of musical production, while also maintaining a Disney-type youthfulness that adds to the magic of a children’s fairytale.
Another piece of the film’s theatricality that showed success was the singing and dancing sequences. Being a movie musical, the performances are an essential piece of its storytelling. The songs were appropriate and added to the development of the characters’ and their stories. While being well fit for the sake of the story, the performances were also effectively entertaining and engaging. Such songs as “Somebody to Love” by Queen and “Material Girl” by Madonna were incredibly memorable performances, adding an unconventional pop angle to musicals.
Cinderella is not a film that is particularly notable for its filmmaking. The editing was fairly headache-inducing and had many uninspired cuts and transitions. This was especially apparent in back-and-forth dialogue scenes between two characters. There was a severe lack in creativity in the cinematography of the film, which was disappointing for a story as magical as this. Diversity in the camera angles and editing choices would make for a much more interesting watch and would definitely add to creativity of the film’s premise.
The acting performances that shined amongst the rest were given by Idina Menzel as the Stepmother and Porter as the Fairy Godmother. Both of these actors have previous Broadway experience and it shows with their strong camera presence. Without these two performers, the film would severely suffer from standout acting and singing. The rest of the cast shows talent as well, but Menzel and Porter are in a league of their own. It is fair enough to say that these two managed to steal the show and did so with flying colors.
Two honorable mentions for the best performances were from Pierce Brosnan as King Rowan and Minnie Driver as Queen Beatrice. The two of them perfromed well together and showed a certain chemistry that severely lacked between Cabello and Nicholas Galitzine. Their relationship was convincing, heartfelt, and overall very entertaining to watch evolve.
On the other end of the spectrum, the performances that were lacking were from Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Robert, Maddie Baillio as Anastasia, and Charlotte Spencer as Drizella. Galitzine gave a performance that was dull and overall unlikeable. His performance was one that was not memorable or inspiring, seeing as his character remains fairly flat. Being the lead’s love interest, it is hard to remain engaged and encouraging when he fronts a very whiny, bad boy exterior. Baillio and Spencer also failed to meet expectations with their performances as Cinderella’s stepsisters. These two roles are ones that are associated with exaggeration and comedic timing. These two aspects were not apparent in Baillio and Spencer’s performances. The two actresses had few lines and delivered them in a way that went unnoticed and ultimately fell flat.
Cinderella is a fantastic reworking of the children’s classic into a movie musical that is reminiscent of Lin Manuel Miranda’s modern take on musicals such as In the Heights and Michael Gracey’s The Greatest Showman. While the production quality is not the best or most impressive, it is still an enjoyable two hours of lighthearted entertainment. The singing and dancing sequences most definitely outshine the storyline and character development. However, the film deserves many brownie points for providing a fairytale with multicultural representation and strong female leads for young children to look up to and admire.
This film is one that is best suited for young audiences. It was not made for adults, so nuanced characters, impactful cinematography, and symbolic story will not be found here. Rather, it is a simple and empowering tale for those with an appreciation for magical fairytales and the extravagance of musical theater performance.