(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing trailer clips and screenshots from the 2015 live-action remake of "Cinderella". "Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2" by Franz Liszt plays throughout)
Doug (vo): People are always so split when it comes to Cinderella. Some say it's a charming fairy tale, others say it's an incredibly sexist story. I guess I'm somewhere in between. I mean, yeah. Did Cinderella really have to stay with that family? Could she have left at any time? Yeah, probably. But if the story is done right, you focus on the things that are the most important, like how being hopeful, patient, loving, and a hard worker can finally pay off. This is the idea they were trying to do with the new "Cinderella" that, in my opinion, doesn't really come across.
Doug (vo): The story still seems basically on track. Cinderella is a young girl who has a father that she loves very much, but he tragically passes away, leaving her with her Stepmother and stepsisters. The three of them don't like Cinderella and immediately start to treat her like a slave. Trying to be optimistic, she obeys all their commands, hoping one day to accept their love, but she's slowly starting to realize it's never gonna happen. She bumps into a young man who happens to be a prince, and they start to hit it off, until they find out their situation and realize that they're probably never gonna be anything more than friends, if even that. But the father wants the Prince to marry, and so, they hold a great big ball for him to socialize. The Stepmother and stepsisters don't let her go to the ball, but, of course, a Fairy Godmother comes and shows her the way. Through kindness and magic, she transforms a pumpkin into a carriage and her rags into a beautiful dress, her shoes in the glass slippers, and she's off to the ball. She, once again, hits it off with the Prince, but she needs to leave, resulting in one of her slippers being left behind, and thus, the maiden who can fit the slipper will marry the Prince.
Doug (vo): Sounds pretty standard to the traditional Disney formula, but there are a few changes. Some good, some bad. Let's talk about the good stuff. Seeing how it's a Kenneth Branagh film, once again, it looks amazing. The colors, the sets, the cinematography, it's like you're really in a fairy tale. There's a lot more detail given to characters that didn't get much attention in the original that sorely needed it.
(Several characters are shown)
Doug (vo): For example, the Prince is much more fleshed out. Yeah, he isn't just a bit of hunk arm candy, he's actually a very interesting character, as is the King, and even the Stepmother has a little bit more development, as we actually see her and the husband try to get along, try to have a little bit of a life together, but realize that they're not quite meant for one another. So you see the seeds of how she would become so despicable. It's also kind of interesting seeing the development of Cinderella starting off as the stepdaughter then slowly becoming the maid. They don't just immediately say "go to the kitchen", they say, "Oh, wouldn't you like to help out? Wouldn't you like to make things easier?", leading to a point where they don't even let her sit at the same table anymore, which is the scene where she finally breaks down. It's emotionally effective, you really feel bad that she will never be a part of this family. I also kind of like the idea that the Fairy Godmother is disguised as a peasant, but then, when Cinderella treats her with kindness, that's when she gives her the reward. A good lesson, but isn't the idea that she's being rewarded for kindness all through her life? It's kind of weird that she suddenly gets all this stuff just for treating one person in a good way. But, whatever. You get the idea.
(The main character is shown in a large amount of clips and stills)
Doug (vo): Honestly, the film, in many respects, does do a lot of good updates, that is, except for one element that is kind of an important element, and that's Cinderella herself. If you watch the interviews, they all talk about how she's not a damsel in distress and she's not a waif, and I really hate it when they do that, because it's like, "Okay, we know what she's not. What is she, then?" The answer is...not very interesting. Ironically, in trying to make the character more strong and independent, they actually make her more submissive and more dependent. In the original cartoon, her father dies when she's a child, so it makes sense that she would be used to this way of living that she's supposed to be the servant. Here, he dies when she's practically an adult, so it doesn't make any sense why she wouldn't just leave. In fact, there's a scene where friends are asking her "why don't you just leave", and she's like, "Oh, it's my father's place. I would feel bad." That makes no sense! And she ends up leaving at the end anyway, so it makes doubley no sense! And when it does show her childhood, it's some of the worst stuff in the movie. It actually starts off showing how over-the-top pleasant her life is, and it is painful. It is beyond sappy, it's like it's made for three-year-olds, which, if the movie was made for three-year-olds, fine, but it's clearly not. It's supposed to be made for everybody, it's supposed to make adults feel like children and children like adults. Just know if you're watching it, the first couple minutes is not a reflection of the rest of the film. And following that over-the-top happy childhood, she herself is also over-the-top happy. There's one scene when she finally breaks down, and it's a very welcome scene, but all the other times, she just kind of smiles and looks...pleasant. And I'm sorry. That's not interesting. I know a lot of people remember the original Cinderella as being just very bland and not very interesting, but you know what?
(Stills of the original Cinderella is shown)
Doug (vo): She had her limits, she could get angry, she could get frustrated. You could see in the animation and the performance that she's constantly telling herself, "Just get through it. Just get through it." So when it leads to the scene where the dress is ripped apart and she has nothing left, it's genuinely heartbreaking.
(Back to footage of the live-action Cinderella)
Doug (vo): In this movie, when they rip the dress apart, it doesn't mean a thing. Yeah, she cries and she feels sad, but it feels like we're going through this simply because it's the Cinderella story, we kind of got to go through it. It didn't feel earned. We already had the big cry scene when she realizes she isn't part of the family, and it was very effective. But because of that, you're taking away from a moment that should've been huge because you did it a little too early. On top of that, there's a scene at the end where she's locked in the attic. Now in the original, she tries to get out, she's banging on the door, she's calling for help. In this one, she's just so happy thinking about her Prince, and also, somehow so sad that she thinks nobody would want to see her, that she does nothing. She just spins around singing to herself. Oh, my God! This is supposed to be the stronger, more independent version? A good, strong character is supposed to work with their flaws. You're supposed to see what their problems are and see them work through it. The original Cinderella is trying to work through a mindset that she's had since childhood, and see that she is worth the effort. She's worth breaking out, she's worth going behind her Stepmother and stepsisters' back. Here, much more than the original, she waits for someone to come and save her. In the original, she's at least making an attempt to get out! I'm sorry. These are big problems with this character!
Final thought Edit
Doug (vo): So, does that make it a bad movie? Uh...kinda. I mean, it is called "Cinderella", so you would think Cinderella should be good and interesting. But it's kind of hard, seeing how they update all these other elements. The Prince is more interesting, the King is more interesting, the Stepmother is interesting, there's less of cute little mice and more chemistry between the romantic leads. Somewhere between this live-action version and the animated version, there's a really good rendition of Cinderella that's waiting to get out. Honestly, if you want a good one that actually has an interesting character and tells the story in a unique, awesome way, go see Ever After. (The poster for that film is shown) In my opinion, it's the most fun and interesting rendition of the Cinderella story, with a smart, interesting, complex lead. With this one, it is difficult to like if you don't make your main character relatable. Where the original did have problems that were just kind of problems of Disney fairy tales in the day, this one updates some but then makes others a little worse. I guess I'm glad I saw it. I mean, it did look interesting, and it was very elegant and pretty. It obviously tried really hard, it just...tried so hard in some areas that it got lost and confused about what it actually was getting across. It's hard to say. If you're looking for just a nice little fairy tale where women wear pretty dresses and dance with princes and such, you'll like it fine. If you wanna feel more emotion than you did in the original Cinderella, I don't know if you're gonna get much of that, because, like I said, it's just hard to relate with this character. I guess it's just kind of a "pick your poison". Grab a pumpkin and see for yourself.
(The title of the film is shown as "Hungarian Rhapsody" ends)