(Editor’s Note: Once again, our AWESOME friend Scott went to a preview of an upcoming Disney film and was kind enough to give us a writeup about what he saw. This time, it was Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella!)
by guest writer Scott Muchow
Ok, so the last time I wrote something up (Big Hero 6) I feel like I failed a little. I got caught up in the extended preview a little more than the film merited. It wasn’t a bad movie, it just ended up not being as great as the preview had set it up to be. So, that being said, I have approached tonight’s extended preview with a little more reservation.
Tonight, Disney premiered an extended preview for their new live action Cinderella. It’s due out on March 13th, but don’t let that release date scare you, I think this will be a pretty decent adaptation. I mean, c’mon it’s a Kenneth Branagh film, that alone earns it a serious look in my book.
The preview starts out with pretty much the same cut scenes we have already been exposed to in the normal trailer. Shots of Cinderella as a child with some voice over from her mother, a quick glimpse of the stepmother and sisters being wicked and well…ugly.
There are, however, a few different things that we have not yet seen. We see the announcement in the town courtyard that there will be a grand ball to choose a bride for the prince, as it’s the tradition of the land. Cinderella is there and we see her quiet eagerness upon hearing this proclamation. There is a quick shot of Cinderella hand stitching a pink dress and the mice rolling a spool of thread and some notions under the table. Alluding to their helping with the first dress somehow I assume. These aren’t your cartoon singing mice though, I doubt they will even be talking, which, for the tone of this film, is a good thing.
We also get a scene of the sisters getting dressed for the ball with corset cinching and scowling pained faces. The next scenes have already been shown as well, Cinderella coming down the stairs and the wicked step mother ripping the dress and telling Cinderella she will not be going to the ball. We do, at this point, learn that the pink dress actually belonged to Cinderella’s mother and is of special significance, which makes it’s destruction all the more evil.
Then, we get the scene of her meeting the yoda-esgue looking Fairy Godmother, and that’s where the extended part of this preview comes in. I am fairly certain we saw most of the ball prep with Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother. Helena Bonham Carter transforms herself into her white gowned younger self, somewhat reminiscent of Glinda the Good Which, wings and all, and we are off and running. Carter is going to be the comic relief, and her scenes played off pretty well. She is playing it more bumbling than we may be used to for the part, but I think it will be endearing.
There is discussion about getting Cinderella ready for the ball and she goes through a list of possible vegetable candidates for a coach. It’s a cute scene with Cinderella saying no to each one then sheepishly admitting “we have pumpkins”, which, of course, leads to the Fairy Godmother making the coach out of the biggest one in the greenhouse. The pumpkin grows so big it burst the greenhouse apart then explodes into a thousand little pieces. Pieces than float around, transform into gold and self assemble into the beautiful ornate coach you see in the regular trailer. The mice are turned into the white steeds, as expected, but she picks two lizards to transform into the footmen. Finally, a wandering goose becomes the driver and, when the transformation concludes, he exclaims “I can’t drive, I’m a goose”.
Then it is time for the gown. Cinderella is still standing in her ripped pink dress and she begs the Fairy Godmother to not make a new dress, that she wants to wear it to the ball so she feels like her mother is there with her. So the Fairy Godmother merely transforms the dress into something worthy of the grand ball. There is a butterfly theme to the gown, I would guess it’s some kind of allusion to her childhood or mother.
Lastly, as Cinderella is stepping into the coach, the Fairy Godmother sees her ratty shoes and asks “don’t you have anything else” and after her answer exclaims “I’m not very good with shoes”. We then see the making of the requisite glass slippers, with, this time, butterfly bows. Cinderella gets in the coach and the Fairy Godmother, almost forgetting, warns her about the spell only lasting til the last bell tolls at midnight. Cinderella leaves for the ball and we get more stuff already shown in the regular trailer. In fact, we get much less than the regular trailer, which is good. The only difference is a quick shot of the wicked step mother looking down at a glass slipper then smashing it against the wall.
Unlike the released trailer, this one was much more front loaded. Which I prefer. I want to be enticed to come see the film, not shown how the whole thing will play out. It left you wanting more. This preview pretty much assures us that the story is going to hit all the traditional marks, this is not going to be a Maleficent style overhaul, thankfully. It will, however, have a few interesting changes. Things like the dress being her mothers, lizards as footmen and the wicked step mother smashing the glass slipper. I did get the feeling it was also setting things up for a slightly different, non classical, twist at the end. Not in a drastic Burton Planet of the Apes way, but maybe just a minor tweak, something to make us all go “wow that was pretty cool”. I’ve been fooled before but I have to remember, this is Branagh not Burton, I have faith.
Will it be good? Yes, I think it will be damn good, possibly great. The foundation is there, the right people are in place and potential is high. It’s a classic story, there’s a ton of great costume porn and it looks beautiful. Are there some possible pitfalls? You bet. The most glaring could come from an overuse of digital effects. I know that is currently one of the subjects du jour and I’m really not trying to jump on that bandwagon just to be part of the group, but it was noticeable. This preview was full of effects and a few of them were carried on past their prime. Long enough that my little voice was saying “ok fairy magic is making a beautiful ball gown, cool, are we done yet, what’s next”.
I’m willing to give it a pass though because we probably saw the most effects laden portion of the entire film, and honestly, how would you even make it without them. Effects are a double edged sword, hopefully Branagh and his team can swing it with precision. I am more excited for this than Maleficent, which means I will probably see this film in the theatre, and this one is rated G, so it should make for great family fare.