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Blu-ray Review Cinderella (2015) Blu-ray Review (1 Viewer)

Matt Hough

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Cinderella (2015) Blu-ray Review

The tale of Cinderella has been told so often and through so many different conceptions that it would seem nearly impossible for any filmmaker to be able to bring any freshness or verve into the hoary old story. And yet that's just what Kenneth Branagh has done with his 2015 version of Cinderella, an enchanting retelling of the Charles Perrault version of the tale with many of the familiar elements of the fairy tale that one expects abetted delightfully with a few surprises on either end of the story.



Studio: Disney

Distributed By: N/A

Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC

Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1

Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Rating: PG

Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.

Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy

keep case in a slipcover

Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)

Region: ABC

Release Date: 09/15/2015

MSRP: $36.99




The Production Rating: 4.5/5

After her mother (Hayley Atwell) and father (Ben Chaplin) die each rather unexpectedly, Ella (Lily James) is left with an increasingly cruel, unfeeling stepmother (Cate Blanchett) and two selfish, thoughtless stepsisters (Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger) who literally turn her from a stepdaughter/sister into the house’s scullery maid. On one of her jaunts in nature to escape the drudgery of her life, she meets Kit (Richard Madden), unaware that he’s the prince of the realm, and there is instant chemistry between them. But he decides that a great ball that is planned to introduce the prince to the eligible princesses from all surrounding kingdoms should be open to royal and commoner alike hoping that he’ll get another chance to get to know the bewitching girl he met in the forest. Ella is forbidden to go to the ball by her stepmother, but her helpful fairy godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) makes it possible for her to attend, provided she leaves by midnight. By the time the clock strikes twelve, Ella and Kit are definitely in love, but she flees in order to prevent his disappointment at her lowly rank, and he’s determined that this is the girl who will become his new wife if only he can find her again.

 

Screenwriter Chris Weitz and director Kenneth Branagh spend the movie’s first twenty minutes setting up Ella’s deliriously happy childhood with the loving presence of her parents and their indoctrination of Ella to be positive and full of the spirit of human kindness toward all creatures. That makes their separate passings all the more devastating to the viewer in understanding the extreme contrast in her life with the heinous way she is subsequently treated by the usurpers into the household. While certain elements from Disney’s 1950 animated version of the tale are retained (the mice who keep Ella company though they don’t speak in a language any of us can understand, the names of the stepsisters, their fat cat Lucifer, Cinderella’s attempt to go to the ball in a dress of her own), other elements (like all of the bubbly and beautiful songs) are discarded. Nevertheless, the film is as sumptuous a feast for the eyes and ears as could possibly be imagined with the fairy godmother’s magic spell to make Ella party-ready and the entire ball sequence so spectacular that it takes one’s breath away. Weitz and Branagh veer away from the former version yet again in the interlude after the ball when the stepmother actually discovers the glass slipper in Cinderella’s room and does everything she can to thwart her chances with the prince thus giving us a new anxiety that those familiar with the story hadn’t dealt with before. There is a fair amount of wry humor sprinkled through the mix, too: Ella and Kit have that meet cute in the forest, and the fairy godmother’s scatty nature tips the fantasy with some giggles before all of the astounding magic tricks begin.

 

Lily James is a perfect fairy tale heroine: chipper, lovely, kind, and compassionate even in the face of often overpowering ugliness and disrespect. Richard Madden’s Prince Kit has some pluck about him and more shades of personality than Prince Charming is generally allowed with a very touching and loving relationship with his dying father played wonderfully by Derek Jacobi. Rather than playing the wicked stepmother like a shrewish harpy, Cate Blanchett soft-pedals the shrieks and merely lets the evil ooze from her every pore. Screenwriter Chris Weitz allows her a moment where she expresses what had happened in her past to make her so cruel, but it doesn’t fully explain away her wickedness and doesn’t come close to erasing her overriding maliciousness while her daughters played by Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger make fine if stereotypical mean girls. Helena Bonham Carter has fun with her occasionally dizzy fairy godmother while Stellan Skarsgård as the Grand Duke who is heavily pushing his own candidate for the prince Princess Chelina of Zaragosa (Jana Perez) makes an insidiously solid impression. Ben Chaplin is quite excellent as Ella’s loving father, and Tom Edden as the lizard footman is delightfully daffy.



Video Rating: 5/5  3D Rating: NA

The film has been framed at its theatrical 2.39:1 aspect ratio and is presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Shot on film rather than completely digitally, the film’s textures come vibrantly alive with superb sharpness which allows for detailed looks at the hairstyles, clothes (the ball costumes are so many and varied that one could spend hours simply taking them all in frame-by-frame), and facial features. Color is rich and exemplary with realistic and appealing skin tones. Contrast is consistently maintained thus keep black levels level and impressive. The movie has been divided into 18 chapters.



Audio Rating: 4.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix offers a beautifully effervescent soundstage with Patrick Doyle’s omnipresent background score spread expertly through the fronts and rears. Dialogue has been well recorded and mostly resides in the center channel with some sporadic use of directionalized dialogue. Atmospheric effects have also been handled nicely though one might have expected a bit more split effects activity given the many front and rear channels at the designers’ disposal.



Special Features Rating: 3/5

A Fairy Tale Comes to Life (9:23, HD): director Kenneth Branagh, producers Simon Kinberg, David Barron, and Allison Shearmur, and actors Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, and Stellan Skarsgård all share memories of the Disney animated classic and express their desire to make this film a worthy companion piece to it.

 

Costume Test Fun (2:39, HD): as the title suggests, there are some brief glimpses of the wardrobe tests of the actors spliced with clips from the movie where the clothes are featured.

 

Staging the Ball (11:27, HD): the film’s most elaborate set piece gets discussed by director Kenneth Branagh, producer David Barron, and three of the movie’s key production personnel: production designer Dante Ferretti, costume designer Sandy Powell, and choreographer Rob Ashford with plenty of behind-the-scenes looks at the costume, make-up, and hairstyling sessions and the exhausting dancing for the ensemble and principals Lily James and Richard Madden.

 

Alternate Opening (3:02, HD): director Kenneth Branagh introduces some deleted moments from the film’s introductory passages featuring Ella’s happy early life.

 

Ella’s Furry Friends (3:43, HD): the animal wranglers necessary for the film’s many non-human performers are commented on by director Kenneth Branagh.

 

Frozen Fever (7:56, HD): a musical short featuring the characters from Disney’s smash hit Frozen as they prepare for Anna’s surprise birthday party.

 

Promo Trailers (HD): Born in China, Inside Out, Tomorrowland.

 

DVD/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.


First Dance


Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Disney’s 2015 live action version of Charles Perrault’s take on Cinderella proves to be a captivating version of the familiar fairy tale. With a perfect cast and exquisite production design throughout, it isn’t hard to succumb to its allure and become dazzled with its splendor, and the Disney Blu-ray offers near-reference sound and picture. Highly recommended!


Reviewed By: Matt Hough


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Robert Crawford

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I bought this Blu-ray on a blind buy. Now, I need to watch it.:) Thanks for the fine review.
 

Noel Aguirre

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Everything in this movie works for me- the script, the cast (esp the chemistry with the leads), costumes, production, director, cinematography- everything. Branaugh should direct a big budget musical next. I never was a fan of the original Disney animated version- thought it too cutesy. I went to see this opening weekend in the theater apprehensively (with 2 friends who did not really want to go) but after twenty minutes it got me and them. The score by Patrick Doyle is beautiful and stands alone. The last scene Lily James looks stunning- like Grace Kelly in the Swan! The audience actually applauded at the end. I saw it twice in the theater.
 

Peter McM

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Watched this on blu-ray last night. Enchanted me every bit as much as in the theater. Could watch the dress transformation and the ball dance over and over again.
 

warnerbro

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This was actually very good. Patrick Doyle is a master artisan. Sets, costumes, script, all very touching. I still love the Disney animated version and never thought it cutesy. It had some truly dark, moody moments where they used shadows to emphasize mood very adeptly.
 

Vegas 1

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I really like Lily James since I first saw her on Downton Abbey, her smile lights up the room. Looking forward to watching this.

Thanks for the review Matt.
 

Scott Strang

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We took our daughter to see this at Tinseltown.
Obviously the br-d was a mandatory purchase.

Seeing as how this was live action, the way she was treated as far more upsetting and infuriating than with an animated version.

It's certainly a good buy. The Frozen short being included was great too.
 

KPmusmag

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This came from Netflix yesterday and we watched it last night. Cinderella has always been one of my favorite stories and this is surely another worthy version. I loved Cate Blanchett's costumes.


I found it interesting that the ending credits were accompanied by Lily James singing "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and Helena Bonham Carter singing "Bibbity-Bobbity-Boo". Does anyone know if this was originally conceived as a musical? Why else would they go to the trouble fo recording those songs. In addition, HBC sounds more like she is acting the song than just singing it. I am partial to musicals, so that would have been fine with me if they had included the Disney songs.
 

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