Disney's live action Cinderella movie is so wonderfully beholden to the animated source material, it will make your heart swell. And we've seen a large chunk of it, including the Evil Stepmother, Cate Blanchett — who makes her grand entrance with A CAT ON A LEASH.
Today at CinemaCon, Disney gave a large presentation of their upcoming films, and the huge standout hit was Kenneth Branagh's Cinderella. Honestly I had almost forgotten all about this film — well, no more. Move over Maleficent (which had absolutely nothing to show.) Cinderella and her tiny clothes-wearing mice are here to wear the Disney Crown. Here's everything I saw.
The footage opened as all good fairy tales should, a woman's voice says "Once Upon A Time there was a Child named Ella."
A beautiful family sits in a simply golden pastoral setting having the worlds most adorable picnic. It's clearly baby Cinderella, with her father and her blonde mother. Everything is wonderful, they are all so happy and blonde and loving being outdoors… but not for loooong! Cut into the family's gorgeous manor, and OH NO, the mother faints in their fabulous library. The father catches her, and genuine looks of concern are exchanged all around. Cut to the same pastoral field and little Cinderella and father are embracing, all in black. Looks like the Mother died.
Fast forward, a much older Cinderella played by Lily James (best remembered as the "I do what I want" cousin from Downton Abbey) stands in the hallway to welcome her new Stepmother.
Evil Stepmother Cate Blanchett enters, wearing a stunning dress black with gold embroidered details, a black veil wrapped tightly across her face, and topped off with a massive, black victorian hat. But more importantly, she is escorting in her pet cat who is being led in on a leash. SHE HAS A CAT ON A LEASH!!!!!!
THE EVIL STEP MOTHER HAS A CAT ON A LEASH. A CAT. ON. A. LEASH.
It is, amazing. We can only assume that this charcoal tabby, who totally flicks his paw like he's rubbing his litter in Cinderella's face, is named Lucifer (like in the the animated movie). How I even managed to watch a thing after the "cat on a leash" reveal, I will never know — but I'm still freaking out about it. And the footage only got better.
The next few scenes were just a flurry of dresses. So many jewel-toned dresses. Gorgeous fabulous very Disney dresses. Not necessarily true to the times, but it's a fairy tale, deal with it. At one point Blanchett walks in with a massive cheetah print ensemble that is just fantastic and fabulous and goes well with her "I'm watching you" sneer she always seems to be wearing.
The two evil Stepsisters are also revealed and oh my god it's Daisy from Downton Abbey (Sophie McShera) and she looks completely different. Totally different. McShera plays Drizella. Her hair is curly and coifed. Holliday Grainger is the other stepsister Anastasia. They have matching updos and her hair is dyed red. Which is also canon from the Disney movie. They are both wearing a lot of jewel tone mustard and pink, which is also just like the animated movie.
A man approaches and lets everyone know that Cinderella's father has dead. Things change for Cindy, and now she's the servant girl. Cut to a close up of those old-timey servant bells ringing off the hook. It's the sisters, and Drizella cackles, "Cinderella, that's what we'll call you." Her eyes bulge and her face skews up into a hideous cackle. Goodbye, Daisy from Downton Abbey. Wonderful.
Many close-ups of Cinderella's dirty face with stained with tears. Cinderella flees into the woods on a stunning spotted grey horse. She's one with nature — ride Cindy, ride! All of a sudden, a dashing young man on another horse approaches, *SPIT TAKE* it's Robb Stark (Richard Madden), and he tells her she shouldn't be in the forest alone. Cindy laughs and tells him she's not alone, she's with him.
Someone announces there's going to be a Royal Ball! The stepsister primp and preen and mug for the mirror. So many saturated colors and jewel tone dresses are thrown about. The Evil Stepmother looks on, excited for her girls.
They are all ready and Cinderella descends the stairs in a dress they didn't see coming, "It was my Mother's dress!" And, of course, the Evil Stepmother rips it to pieces. A PAIR OF CG MICE WITH VESTS LOOK ON FROM THE STAIRS. The mice have clothing, and it works, because this movie is literally a complete literal translation of the animated classic with additional Robb Stark scenes. How could there not be mice!
Cinderella will NOT go to the ball. She's crying on the balcony watching her dreams die when suddenly a haggard old woman appears in their house. Which is weird because that would mean that she broke into their house and that is illegal. But wait it's actually Helena Bonham Carter in old lady face and she says, "I'm your Fairy Godmother of course." And then bippity bop pity boo, she turns into a gorgeous, blonde Helena Bonham Carter (note she never actually utters that classic turn of phrase, but we assume it's coming). She looks stunning and almost exactly like Glina from Oz but without the down and gigantic sleeves.
Full disclosure: I was not on board with HBC being cast as the fairy godmother, but I was wrong. She is sensational. She has this little angelic charm and together they root through the green house looking for a sizable vegetable that she can transform into a carriage. Her eyes are questionably gigantic, like someone did something in post, but none of the FX are set on this movie so those might just be her eyes.
The classic carriage is transformed from a pumpkin (obviously) and it turns into a golden ornate wonder. It's really something spectacular and we assume Disney will be trotting out this show piece every chance they get. Cinderella gets her classic blue dress, but in an interesting tween-directed decision, she wears her hair down, curly and absolutely covered in glitter. Her head has been dunked in glitter, so much glitter.
And now the ball. Wow. Music that was obviously inspired by the Princess Bride theme song is blasting, fireworks are being shot off and everyone just looks gorgeous. Enter Prince Charming in a full cream prince suit, which almost makes me turn into a howling, cartoon wolf. He asks her to dance! They are nervous! He forgets the word "dance!" They giggle! And somehow I'm holding the person's hand next to me and we are just sighing.
We all know where this is going — nothing I've reported on here is new for Cinderella, but that's the point! The absolute dedication to the source material hits right in the Disney sweet spot. It is clear that director Kenneth Branagh is a fan of the fairy tale, and a fan of what Disney created. Sure there are plenty of new scenes that were hinted at (Prince Charming is seen briefly fencing with Game of Thrones' Nonso Anozie). Plus it's gorgeous and some how they may just make mice with vests work. Fingers crossed for this one: It looks really, really good.
Cinderella is set for a March 13th, 2015 release date.