Amazon Prime Video closed out summer on Sept. 3 with the release of the musical film “Cinderella,” an anticipated remake of the Disney film of the same namesake, though the title may be all the two share.
Still loosely following along with the original plot, viewers can expect to see the core elements that defined the 1950 version the first time around: an overworked daughter, her less-than-considerate stepmother and stepsisters, mice turned into footmen, a glass slipper and a clock that strikes at midnight.
Otherwise, the adaptation proves hard to compare to its original counterpart with how modern and modified it has become, from a rebellious prince with the throne as last priority to a “Fabulous Godmother” that clearly fits the self-proclaimed title. Let’s not forget the stepmother going soft after realizing her own suppressed dreams or the many other new characters and detailed backstories we are given about them.
These inclusions seem necessary in order to set this remake apart from its more successful predecessors. With tough acts to follow, this romantic comedy relies heavily on positive moral lessons and newly introduced characters to stand out.
That, along with a star-studded cast.
Aside from the film being a product of “Pitch Perfect” director Kay Cannon, “Havana” singer Camila Cabello plays Ella, the ambitious, career-driven Cinderella of 2021, while Idina Menzel of “Wicked” plays her only slightly evil stepmother. “The Late Late Show” host James Corden, Billy Porter, Pierce Brosnan and Minnie Driver also star in this film. These names are enough to reel in viewers from more than one generation.
Upon watching, however, “Cinderella” is evidently geared toward a younger target audience with its quick-witted, easy-to-miss remarks from characters. While the humor just happened to align with mine and delivered some genuine laughs, it may certainly fly over most viewers’ heads.
Unfortunately, what’s also rather easy to gloss over is the film’s mise-en-scène. There is nothing particularly eye-catching about what’s put in front of the camera, whether it’s the wardrobe or overall setting.
Today’s technology and creativity allowed “Cinderella” so much room to leave a lasting impression with memorable, grand costumes and set designs. Instead, the remake fell flat and lacked the aesthetic magic of the timeless classic, leaving the film to feel underwhelming and toned down.
The only moment to redeem the lackluster look of the movie is the interaction between Ella and her “Fabulous Godmother,” played by Porter. Viewers will see the movie’s full capacity to utilize effects in the sadly short time this scene lasts on screen.
What “Cinderella” may have lacked in visual appeal was made up for with a fun soundtrack that the cast performed well, including hits like “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran, “Let’s Get Loud” by Jennifer Lopez and “Somebody to Love” by Queen. The most excitement I felt during the movie was waiting to see which bop would be covered next, all of which fit the scenes they were inserted into perfectly.
Fans of Cabello will especially enjoy her original song, “Million to One.” It captures the message of Ella’s story, one in which she believes in her ability to defy the odds and succeed at having her artistic talents be recognized.
Cabello’s performance as Ella is more than impressive as she fits the goofy, empowered role even in real life. Though far off from the reserved, humble persona that characterizes the original princess, Cabello effortlessly portrays a modernized heroine that stands for more than just falling in love. It’s certainly a successful acting debut in how natural she comes across, leaving people such as myself hoping to see her full range of acting abilities in future projects.
“Cinderella” may not be a complete reflection of the Disney classic it was inspired by, but with a phenomenal cast and their success in highlighting important life lessons through the power of song and dance, it’s still a ball to watch.