‘Cinderella’: bippity, boppity, box office boom

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By Kate Joseph
Staff Writer

pic of cinderella movie

Photo: Disney Studios via Vogue.com

Disney has been bringing classic fairy tales to the big screen for more than 75 years, but “Cinderella” is the first to return for a second time.

Drawing inspiration from their own original animated adaptation in 1950, Disney’s live-action retelling is just as enchanting as the first.

Just as we’ve heard it time and time again, a young woman (Lily James) is treated as a servant by her evil stepmother and sisters (Cate Blanchett, Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger), who won’t allow her to attend a ball thrown by the Prince (Richard Madden) for all the maidens in the land.

Of course, “Cinderella” makes it to the ball in a stunning dress and a pumpkin coach thanks to her fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter), falls in love with the prince, and flees before midnight, leaving behind one glass slipper. There’s a happily ever after in there, too.

This version of the classic adds some insight into the new princess’s past and how she lost her parents, as well as a meet-cute prior to the ball. The Prince and Cinderella meet in the woods while on horseback, unaware of each other’s backgrounds or names.

And rather than leaving viewers, many of which are children, with a flimsy message about a prince rescuing a poor pretty girl, the essence of the film focuses on kindness and courage. While somewhat cliché lessons, they are important and certainly an improvement on the original.

Despite a new design, the story is essentially the same, but that’s what makes it great. “Cinderella” succeeds because it doesn’t try to modernize the tale; instead, it improves on what is already tried and true.

Kenneth Branagh (also known as Gilderoy Lockhart) helms the project, directing an outstanding cast of mainly Brits.

James, known for her turn on “Downton Abbey,” brings “Cinderella” to life, giving the title character a brain and a strong heart, not only beauty.

The Prince, still nearly one-dimensional and nameless, is much more charming in this adaption, thanks to Madden’s interesting personality and hopeful plans.

However, Blanchett’s evil stepmother nearly overshadows the film, bringing even more wickedness than the animated Lady Tremaine. In a truly scary performance, she nearly knocks this movie out of children’s territory.

The live-action fairy tale is also visually spectacular. The palace is vast and incredible, Cinderella’s country home is beautiful and charming, and the costume design is sure to garner at least a nomination from the academy, most notably for Cinderella’s enormous but elegant ball gown.

“Cinderella” has already proved its success, securing the number one spot at the box office for its opening weekend with $70 million. Disney cleverly raked in audiences by screening the short “Frozen Fever,” a follow-up to 2013’s “Frozen,” before the film.

The eight-minute cartoon returns most of the original cast, as well as directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, to show Elsa’s attempts to throw Anna the perfect birthday celebration while battling her first cold. The short also includes a brand new original song written by Robert and Kristen Lopez. The song is catchy and the story is cute; it’s the perfect prelude for the magical main feature.

With the success of “Cinderella,” Disney will likely continue adapting animated classics into live-action extravaganzas, two of which are on deck already: “The Jungle Book,” which will hit theaters next April, and “Beauty and the Beast,” set to open in March 2017.

“Cinderella” is in theaters now. To buy cheaper movie tickets to Regal Cinemas on Fenway, visit the Office of Student Leadership and Activities to buy $8 movie tickets instead of Regal’s student discount at $10.