By Paul Hall
Music makes the world go round, and busting out of what the world expects from us is a dream of so many. Viewers are treated to copious amounts of music in the new imagining of the classic story of Cinderella gracing a screen near you now as part of your Amazon Prime Video subscription.
Ella (Camila Cabello) is slaving away for her stepmother Vivian (Idina Menzel) and her stepsisters. Seeing to their every wish, she is encouraged to get a man, preferably a well-to-do one, and help the family. Although Vivian would pass her off on the first man to come to the door, Ella’s dreams are bigger than becoming window dressing for a rich man.
Meanwhile, back at the palace, Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) is being encouraged by King Rowan (Pierce Brosnan) to take a bride. But the prince wants to proceed at his own pace. He believes in love.
Of course, a chance meeting between Ella and Prince Robert is bound to occur. Finding himself enchanted by Ella, there will be the ball to help him find her once again, this girl who has lit the fire within. But can our heroine rise from her stepmother’s basement to realize her potential? And will love win out over additional power?
Whether animated, live-action, or in the case of the new film, musical in nature, Cinderella is a classic tale that has been revered by fans both young and old. And the tales have been as varied as the individuals who have filled the roles of the story.
Cabello brings her vocal prowess we have experienced through Fifth Harmony and her solo recording projects to the role of the girl being held down by her stepmother. She is able to hit the right notes and infuse her performance with the right pitch and tone for the musical selections. She does have a little work to do on some of the acting, but this is a promising start for the talented woman.
Director Kay Cannon brings along the uber-talented Menzel as the stepmother, who explodes off the screen. Menzel is an accomplished performer who is enjoyable even if we don’t like her character’s efforts to hold Cinderella (as she calls Ella) down.
The multitalented cast is a hit during the scenes that develop into song. Billy Porter gives us a new and quite fab performance in his role as the Fabulous Godmother, James Corden gets a role as one of the mice, and Minnie Driver takes charge as the queen. I particularly enjoyed Ben Smith’s town crier, who along with his bandmates provides the transitions to keep our story moving along.
While this film would have been just light, airy fun if it was simply musical in nature, there are some acting sequences that underwhelmed. A story that is pasted together quite clunkily, leaves a bit of a sour taste from time to time.
Cinderella is a fun film that does bring smiles and singing and maybe an occasional dance move from viewers in spite of its shortcoming. We all need to believe in ourselves a bit more, as there are no limits to our achievement.
Paul’s Grade: C+
Stars: Camila Cabello, Idina Menzel, Nicholas Galitzine, Billy Porter, Pierce Brosnan, Minnie Driver, Tallulah Greive
Director: Kay Cannon