Cinderella makes some slight changes in the fairy tale. The storyline where she is dissed by her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, made into a servant and kept from attending the ball sticks.
Our heroine and the prince meet in the woods while he’s hunting. He is totally taken with the flaxen-haired beauty.
A change in this version has the king issuing an edict that the prince must pick a bride at the ball. The prince — hoping Cinderella will attend the ball — convinces daddy to let all of the kingdom to attend. The king’s top adviser has other ideas for the prince’s future.
A change or two more, and the rest of the story — as they say — is history.
Downton Abbey’s Lily James is cast as Cinderella. She’s terrific. So is Cate Blanchett, who plays the tortured stepmother. Helena Bonham Carter is dazzling as the ditzy fairy godmother.
Richard Madden — who is one of the stars of Game of Thrones — plays the prince. He’s deadly boring, as is Stellan Skarsgard, who is the king’s chief adviser.
Another problem is the length. Disney’s Cinderella ran 74-minutes. Today, that’s a long TV show. The new, live action version — dare we call it action? — of Charles Perrault’s classic is 112 minutes, about 38 minutes longer. Less if you stay for the credits.
This isn’t saying director Kenneth Branagh ( Thor) and screenwriter Chris Weitz’s ( About a Boy) version is bad. Even with a change or two, Cinderella is a pretty good love story. A bonus is sets and costumes that are as colorful and gorgeous as the 74-minute Disney 1950 original.
And that leads us back to that 38 minutes. With a story as short as Cinderella, it’s 38 too many.
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