Cinderella: 4 out of 5 stars

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I own all three cartoon versions of Cinderella, so I had high expectations for this movie. They were more than fulfilled. This version stayed true to Disney’s 1950 movie, but was more enhanced and updated.

Ella (Lily James) is a goody-two-shoes who believes in everything magical. Her mother (Hayley Atwell) teaches her to “have courage and be kind,” as she grows up. In contrast to the original movie, Ella’s mother is a big influence on her in her pre-teen years. I liked seeing the family dynamic from Ella’s early years. This sets a bittersweet mood for the rest of the movie; Ella is left with only the memories and lessons her parents gave her.

The more gaudy things come after Ella’s stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and stepsisters (Holliday Grainger and Sophie McShera) arrive. Their scratchy yellow and pink dresses and Snooki-like hair styles make the cartoon versions look innocent. I hated these two characters; their behavior toward each other and toward Ella was vicious. Their nickname for her, Cinderella, says it all: they believe she is just a creature of dust and soil. However, in the movie I see Ella as much more courageous and beautiful in the way that she could be gracious even with the most awful of people.

This iteration of the fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) is one of my favorites. She’s adorned in a white, winged gown; her wand is more like a mini-staff that glows and constantly spews out glitter and her powers are much more dynamic. After she appears, she performs one of her best tricks: the pumpkin transforming into a carriage.

After Ella meets the prince (Richard Madden) at the ball, I could already hear wedding bells ringing. The prince is my favorite actor, slipping perfectly into the typical prince charming: handsome and dedicated to finding his true love.

I liked the positive message this movie promotes: to always treat people with a kind heart and show courage. It makes you do the crazy, stupid things in life. They may or may not turn out to be great things, but that’s the fun in it.