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Thursday, January 20, 2022

There have been countless versions of the tale of Cinderella. Just like Sherlock Holmes, there are alternate universes and stories where the Cinderella Story – rags to riches, torment to happiness – takes place. But Disney’s path to reinventing their own classic princess film has been leaving some red flags.  

Starring Lily James (Downton Abbey) as Cinderella and Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as the prince, the new film is as familiar as slipping on an old shoe.

There is a certain spark of wonder about the story, and lord knows the costume design is glorious. We would expect nothing less from a Sir Kenneth Branagh film that managed to snag Hayley Atwell, Cate Blanchett and Helena Bonham Carter in supporting roles.

The first warning sign came as early as the first trailer. “Maleficent” was teased mercilessly; in the first teaser, we do not even see the mistress of evil. We just hear her laugh. “Cinderella” skipped right pass teasing, dropping a full two-and-a-half-minute trailer all at once.

And then we saw her dress.

Cinderella’s ball gown transformation was Walt Disney’s favorite piece of animation his team had ever created. The trailer seems as if Disney is spoiling its own film. I believe it would have been smarter to tease the dress until the last trailer, or even  (gasp) save it for the film.

So far their marketing strategy has involved throwing copious amounts of money at consponsorships – gag inducing, but effective.

This time around, it’s less sexist, with Cinderella meeting the prince on her own terms, and the feature length allows for more character development. Reviewers describe it with an “affable tone and vivacious, good-natured spirit,” though it does fail to even attempt a step at being progressive.

            Disney is playing it safe. No stretches are being made; they are not even attempting to reach a lofty production goal. The new Frozen short will premiere before “Cinderella” only, locking in a decent portion of the country as guaranteed viewers. Reviewers are pleased with its enjoyable, comforting ride. It will likely be a very successful, well-received film. But that doesn’t make it groundbreaking.

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