We'll see if you still love me after you read it though... I apologize if I offend anyone.
And, I've got some other posts written so be sure to look out for those. They're much... tamer than this one...
Anyway! Without further ado:
****THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS TO DISNEY’S LIVE ACTION CINDERELLA! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED****
****THIS IS A NEGATIVE REVIEW! IF THIS WILL UPSET YOU OR MAKE YOU SAD, PLEASE DO NOT READ IT! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED****
I wanted to write this review a long time ago, but when I went to see it, I went with my sister, my best friend, and my brother’s girlfriend. And they all loved it. So, I felt sort of bad because I didn’t like it and I didn’t want them to think that my dislike of the movie also meant I was disappointed with the experience.
Danielle, Allie, and Danielle, if you’re reading this, please don’t think I was disappointed that I spent time with you.
Because I wasn’t. I had a blast. I just didn’t like the movie.
Or, as anyone who knows me the tiniest bit can tell you, I don’t just dislike stuff. I obsessively dislike it. That’s how I felt about the new, live-action remake of Cinderella. I don’t just dislike it. I DISLIKE it with a fiery burning passion.
There were a number of reasons the movie just didn’t work for me. Starting with a small reason, I’ll work my way up to the biggest problem I found.
So, first, Cinderella’s dress. What was with the butterflies? Like, it was sooooo beautiful and then the butterflies along the top looked like they had been added on the whim of a five-year-old. No. They should have been left off. I don’t care about motif. Seriously. No. Take them off. The costumer inside of me was screaming. Like, literally screaming inside my head. You may be thinking it’s not that big of a deal, but it is. Trust me. It was wrong and it ruined the magical moment of the dress transformation for me.
Next, the stepsisters.
I. Want. Pretty. Stepsisters.
Or, ugly stepsisters are okay.
Just please, please, pleeeeeeeaaaaaase stop giving me pretty girls in ugly costumes and terrible hairstyles. Part of the reason Ever After works so well for me is because I’m given beautiful stepsisters with ugly personalities. Like, seriously, if they had taken two second to style their hair differently, would we have had a different movie? Would more guys have liked them?
Or, give me ugly girls. Give me girls who eat too much and complain when their mother tries to dress them up and marry them off. Or, maybe they try to be pretty but it doesn’t work. But, please stop exaggerating it. This movie was full of a gorgeous color scheme and then they plop the stepsisters right in the middle of it and it came across as more than a sharp contrast. From the pictures I’ve seen and the few second snippets, they looked as if they would fit better in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland than this version of Cinderella.
I don’t know where this tradition started, but please, people, stop it.
Then there was the story in general. I wanted something new. Anything. Now, I’m not talking about a full new story. I understand that people love it because they kept it truer to the original story and that’s great. It actually gave me a ton of hope for Beauty and the Beast because it shows Disney does actually know how to follow a story without changing everything they possibly can.
But, you can add depth to a story without making it a new story. The only character who had depth, they ruined (we’ll get to that later). I wanted the story to surprise me. To give me another layer.
As a writer, the story was very one-note for me. The dialogue wasn’t particularly witty, none of the characters had much depth, and the story was the exact one we have known since before we can remember. The only parts that grabbed my attention, truly drew me in and made me care, were ruined by the end of the movie. Everything else was uninspiring and even the gorgeous visuals of the story world weren’t enough to keep me interested.
Which leads to my last point- the real reason I didn’t like the movie: The Stepmother.
See, I loved her.
For me, she was the only character with depth. The only character I understood. The only character I truly cared about.
Look at it from her point of view- She’s a single mother with two daughter in a time when men were valued. She has no one to take care of her girls, no one to see they are found good husbands, a place worthy of respect in the world. She’s a mother who wants the very best for her daughters. How many mothers out there can relate to that?
So then she meets this man. And, he’s good and kind and just amazing. And the way he talks about his own daughter, the way he treasures her, loves her, it gives the stepmother hope. Perhaps this man could love her daughters in the same way. Perhaps he could find her girls good husbands, as a man who cares in such a way for his daughter would surely not toss another’s to the wayside. There’s a chance here that maybe this man will offer them a place, see they are cared for, see they get the very best life can offer.
And, maybe, just maybe she finds herself falling in love with him.
But her heart was broken. Maybe by her first husband. Maybe by her father. Maybe by a suitor she wasn’t good enough for as a girl. Someone broke her heart because she obviously isn’t the best at loving people. She wants it. You can see that. At least, I could. But I don’t think she knows what love is. Maybe because no one had ever showed her before.
And, now, she’d found someone who might. Someone she might be able to open her heart to. Someone she might be able to love.
But then there’s that terrible scene where she overhears the father talking to Cinderella about her. That was wrong. Think about it. How would you feel if you overheard your husband talking about you that way? Especially when he clearly told Cinderella before that that he might be in love with her. He called her a second chance at happiness. So, we know this wasn’t just a marriage of convenience. He professed love to her and then turns around and talks about her behind her back.
I’d be pretty mad too.
Especially when he dies and she’s left with the girl. The girl he loved more than her. The girl who kept him from loving her own daughters. Her plans backfired.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. SHE MADE BAD CHOICES. I am not saying she was right to do any of what she did to Cinderella. It was wrong. But, it made sense.
See, Cinderella is all smiles and sweetness, but then goes and talks about her behind her back. I wouldn’t like the girl either. I would probably be pretty ticked off if I found myself her guardian.
Especially when Cinderella’s so much better than her own daughters. Daughters she wants the very best for. Daughters she will stop at nothing to make sure are taken care of. She doesn’t want her daughters to end up like her- twice a widow, left with nothing, no hope, no future for her children.
Who better to set your sights on than the prince? Any children you have will be looked after, even if something happens to your husband. You’ll never want for anything, never go without, and you’ll at least have money to make up for it if the prince talks behind his back about you (not a good philosophy, but one that makes sense).
But, Cinderella is standing in their way. Cinderella, with all her smiles and kindness but beneath it, she just isn’t nice to the Stepmother. They never connected and Cinderella didn’t really try. Not like she should have. It’s like Cinderella just expected everyone to like her and it’s some grave offence if they don’t.
So, the Stepmother takes drastic measures. She goes out of her way to ensure the prince doesn’t meet Cinderella, because she knows there’s no hope for her if he does. Her girls don’t stand a chance next to someone as amazing as Cinderella. They’ll be left with nothing.
You all know what happens. You know the steps the Stepmother takes. But then, Disney gives me one final scene to hate.
That scene at the end, after the prince finds Cinderella. We’re supposed to be cheering. The prince and Cinderella are united! The evil Stepmother has been vanquished.
And so, Cinderella walks down the stairs, gives her Stepmother a condescending little look and says the three words that fill me with rage every time I think about them: “I forgive you.”
I wanted to punch Cinderella. Or, at least the screenwriters.
See, this is supposed to be a great scene. But, really, of course she forgives her. Why wouldn’t she? She’s won. She gets the prince and the Stepmother is left with nothing. Her girls have even less of a chance at finding good husbands than they did before. That’s the thing that determines girls’ worth in that time, that world. And, Cinderella took it all away. She won.
Of course she forgives her Stepmother. Because this woman can never do another bad thing to her again. This woman is fully and completely defeated. And honestly, I would be surprised if Cinderella ever truly thought of her again. She has no reason to.
Forgiveness is easy when your life is perfect.
If she had said those words five minutes earlier, as the Stepmother was taking the slipper, was locking her in her room, I would have loved her. I would have written a completely different post, briefly mentioning the other things, but telling you all what a powerful movie this is. I would be writing about how much I love Cinderella and how amazing she is and how beautiful this all was.
But any effect, any power this story might have had was lost. Because she said those words just a few minutes too late.
But, on the plus side, this movie inspired a Cinderella retelling idea for me and as I was writing this post, I was inspired to write another one. So, I’m off to write that.
Until next time, faithful readers!