A sparkly Disney Steelbook sprinkled with magic.
Branagh delivers a strong live-action adaptation of the classic fairytale, but does it have enough Disney magic to make it shine?Following suit after Disney’s magnificent re-imagining of the tale of Sleeping Beauty with Maleficent, Cinderella is a vastly less imaginative interpretation of the fairytale, instead relying on the assured hand of director Kenneth Branagh to bring us a rich, classically-stylised vision which feels more like a dynamic Jane Austen tale of love-in-the-face-of-adversity, only peppered with Disney magic. Borne into a household steeped in tragedy, with merely the last words of her dying mother to live her life by, Ella finds herself put upon by a spiteful stepmother and vicious stepsisters. A chance meeting with a young man, however, gives her some hope for life beyond the constraints of her prison-like home; little does she know that the man is actually the prince and future king. How will she ever be able to win him over?Steeped in rich ‘period’ authenticity, Branagh’s vision may trade in a classical style, but its modern sensibilities and mature intelligence shine through, with the story and characters alike tweaked and reinterpreted to make for a richer, more compelling romantic drama. A far more self-empowered force to be reckoned with, Lily James makes a commendable debut in the lead, facing off against a fantastic interpretation of the wicked stepmother by Cate Blanchett, played utterly straight, whilst solid support comes from everybody from Derek Jacobi to Stellan Skarsgard. Only Richard Madden’s prince fails to quite spark the chemistry, although perhaps this tale is more about ‘Ella than anybody else. As classic tales go, this one’s more Austen than Disney, and some may understandably miss the magic.
Cinderella pops with lavish ‘period’ richness and vibrant magical punch.
Disney’s latest interpretation of Cinderella UK shores with a not unsurprisingly spectacular Region Free Blu-ray, promoting the film with a 1080p/AVC-encoded video presentation in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen. Every bit the wowing demo material you would have expected from the studio – who previously worked wonders on the live-action fairytale front with Maleficent – Cinderella pops with lavish ‘period’ richness and vibrant magical punch. Detail is excellent throughout, with a refined, cinematic quality that shines through thanks to the classically-styled cinematography. The colour scheme has a wide array of rich and authentic tones, and plenty of more vivid elements, not least Cinderella’s spectacular signature dress. Black levels are strong and deep, with excellent shadow detail, and overall this is a near-perfect video presentation that makes for resolute demo material.
Disney’s new live-action Cinderella shines on the technical front.
On the aural side, Cinderella’s accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track provides equally impressive audio coverage, promoting dialogue clearly across the frontal array, whilst the rest of the track – frequently dominated by an engaging and suitably classical score – frequently engulfs you in its immersive sound design. Effects pick up everything from chattering mice to galloping hooves, with the more magical moments brought to the fore, and the ball itself taking centre stage as a rousing affair that may as well be taking place in your very living room. As stated, the score does a lot of the hard work supporting from the surrounds and rears, sweeping you up into what could easily be an adaptation of a classic novel rather than a children’s fairytale, and overall this is engaging demo material through and through.
ExtrasIf you're thinking of adding this Zavvi Exclusive Steelbook to your Disney Collection then it easily earns its place amongst the others. Although not quite as imaginative as, say, Maleficent, and although some may have strong feelings about the reversal of the images on the front and back covers, it is still a lavish effort, glossy and gorgeous, popping with vibrant colours and their now-standard framed embossing as well as some excellent embossing on the glass slipper that sparkles across the cover.
The gorgeous, glossy, embossed steelbook rightly earns its place in the almost universally excellent Disney Collection.
Although not exactly bursting with extras, this release still sports a trio of featurettes - A Fairy Tale Comes to Life; Costume Test Fun and Staging the Ball - as well as a look at Ella's Furry Friends and an Alternative Opening: Ella's Childhood. Frozen Fever rounds out the extras - and it may well seal the deal for many; a Frozen-flavoured short which is sure to excite the many fans of the animated musical hit.
Blu-ray Steelbook Verdict
A stunning steelbook and a spectacular presentation leave this hard to resist.
Disney fans will find it hard to resist adding this to their collection, particularly with a whole slew of recently-greenlit live-action adaptations to come. However, far from the imaginative, passionate Maleficent, Branagh's more classical Cinderella doesn't quite have enough Disney magic to justify its place amidst its siblings. Still, it's an undeniably assured and intelligent re-interpretation of the classic which will certainly engage even if it fails to enchant.
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