Cinderella (Blu-ray) (2015)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-A Fairy Tale Comes to Life
Featurette-Costume Test Fun
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Staging the Ball
Featurette-Ella's Furry Friends
|Year Of Production||2015|
|RSDL / Flipper||Dual Layered||Cast & Crew|
|Start Up||Language Select Then Menu|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Kenneth Branagh|
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Helena Bonham Carter
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Danish Dolby Digital 5.1
Finnish Dolby Digital 5.1
Norwegian Dolby Digital 5.1
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Swedish Dolby Digital 5.1
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||2.35:1|
|Original Aspect Ratio||2.35:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
†††† Cinderella represents the next step in Disneyís master plan to create live-action motion pictures from their vast catalogue of animated classics, following in the shadow of Alice in Wonderland and last yearís Maleficent. Directed by Kenneth Branagh (Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit), this Cinderella is easily the strongest upgrade so far, a dazzling fairy-tale with charm, heart, and intimacy to supplement the mandatory spectacle. Giving the reins to Branagh certainly seems like a head-scratcher at first glance, yet heís the perfect man for the job, resulting in one of the most convincing fantasy films in years. Often low-key, the movie is not smeared in a disgusting amount of digital effects, and it manages to be child-friendly without directly pandering to the younger demographic. In fact, without the Disney branding or the aggressive marketing campaign, 2015ís Cinderella could almost be an arthouse release. Sure, it has anthropomorphised mice and other fantastical touches, but Branagh doesnít overdo it, nor does he slather the movie in excess - effective drama and genuine feeling are the order of the day here.
†††† The narrative remains virtually untouched, with scribe Chris Weitz creating a fairly traditional updating of Disneyís animated film from 1950. Ella (Lily James) becomes an orphan following the death of her beloved parents (Hayley Atwell, Ben Chaplin), left in the care of her not-too-kindly stepmother Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett). Under Tremaineís regime, Ella is forced into hard labour, becoming a lowly maid for her stepmother and two grotesque step-sisters, Anastasia (Holiday Grainger) and Drizella (Sophie McShera). During a chance meeting with handsome royal prince Kit (Richard Madden), they form an instant connection, with the pair longing to see one another again. When the king (Derek Jacobi) encourages Kit to marry, a ball is arranged, with every woman in the kingdom invited to attend in order for the prince to choose a future queen. With Tremaine forbidding Ella from attending the ball, and undermining her confidence, Ellaís Fairy Godmother (Helena Bonham Carter) is called upon to help the girl reunite with the charming young man she wishes to marry.
†††† Essentially, Branagh and Weitz have merely set out to tell a familiar story in a competent manner, and by all accounts the end result is a resounding success. Anyone whoís intimately acquainted with the source material will not find many surprises here, but this is about the best live-action retelling of the fairy-tale that anyone could realistically expect. The most impressive aspect of the screenplay is that it gives unexpected depth to the characters; Kit and Ella do not fall in love out of Disney formula, but rather out of mutual attraction that develops organically. Moreover, Ella is not even aware that Kit is a prince during their first meeting; her heart aches for him not due to his royalty, but due to his personality. The romance is surprisingly poignant under Branaghís careful eye, and that climactic glass slipper moment is a joy to witness. Additionally, Weitzís script expands upon a few aspects of the Cinderella story that we do not always see - including how Ella gets her Cinderella nickname - and there is an unexpected twist of conspiracy at the heart of the search for the princeís bride-to-be. Thus, while there are small alterations to the source, Branaghís treatment remains respectful and traditional.
†††† Rather than the punishing grimness of Snow White and the Huntsman or the glossy, plastic look of Maleficent, Cinderella is more like a Shakespearean drama, reminiscent of Branaghís earlier features. As a matter of fact, the film is less successful when the trademark Disney touches pop up, most notably in a scene featuring the Fairy Godmother thatís much too broad. For the most part, however, Cinderella works. Beautifully-lensed with 35mm film, the movie is endowed with a convincing look that serves the production well. Maleficentís digital look was a massive problem, as it was impossible to buy the fantastical world as real. But with a fine grain structure and a reliance on sets and costumes, Cinderellaís fantasy world looks and feels real. Itís rare to label any $95 million motion picture as modest, but this truly applies to Branaghís film; the budget certainly isnít as high as Maleficent ($180 million), Alice in Wonderland ($200 million) or Oz the Great and Powerful ($215 million). There is not a great deal of CGI here which is a massive advantage, as the small digital touches subtly enhance the visuals without calling attention to themselves.
†††† Although there has been a lot of press about Lily Jamesí impossibly thin figure, her grounded depiction of Cinderella is a huge asset to the film. Thereís superb humanity to her performance, as she comes across as a strong female trying to make the most of a bad situation while trying as hard as she can to retain her personal integrity and show kindness. Most of all, James possesses the beauty, grace and radiance to be a believable Cinderella. Alongside her, Madden is a terrific love interest, with a down-to-earth quality that makes him instantly sympathetic. He has no interest in the wealth or prestige of royalty, which is why he tries to hide his status from Cinderella when they first meet. Meanwhile, Blanchettís turn as the wicked stepmother is absolutely spot-on. At face value, her villainy is pure black-and-white, but there is some actual depth to the character, with justification for her rotten behaviour. Jacobi also deserves a special mention; he has little screen-time as the king and it feels like a throwaway role, but itís hard to imagine the movie being so spectacular without him.
†††† Other recent fairy-tale adaptations have been revisionist, but Cinderella is staunchly not revisionist, which is quite refreshing. It may seem paint-by-numbers, but Branagh infuses the story with emotion, which makes for rewarding viewing. With its gorgeous production design and ornate costuming, Cinderella is a joy, and its brisk 100-minute runtime and competent pacing ensure that thereís no narrative flab here. Indeed, the time simply flies by.
†††† Oh my word, Cinderella is an absolute stunner on Blu-ray, with a presentation that faithfully replicates the cinema experience (I did witness the movie on the big screen). Given a 1080p, AVC-encoded HD transfer, this charming fairy tale was simply a joy to behold on my television.
†††† Cinderella is not a digital candyland like Maleficent or Alice in Wonderland. The visuals and colours arenít garish. Branagh lensed the movie on gorgeous 35mm celluloid, and therefore the Blu-ray presentation looks beautifully filmic and frankly timeless. It carries that natural look thatís so rare these days, making it a breath of fresh air.
†††† Thereís a gorgeous grain structure in place which keeps the movie looking grounded and real. Best of all, the encode handles it extremely well; grain is fine and well-resolved, not blocky or ugly. Detail is consistently top-notch, with superb edge definition and strong textures. Every last detail on every ornate dress is visible, and every hair is discernible on the cats and the mice.
†††† Colour is simply excellent. Flesh tones look naturally warm and orange, the costumes burst off the screen with colour, and forests and fields look lush. Even the littlest scenes look amazing, while the iconic ballroom scene is an enthralling visual feast. And thankfully, thereís no black crush; shadows and blacks are inky and true, with no detail lost.
†††† Disneyís encode is simply flawless. My eyes detected no issues. Furthermore, there are a few subtitle options available, and said subtitles are smartly-formatted. Cinderella benefits from a high-definition presentation greatly. It just looks gorgeous. Why canít all movies look this good?
†††† Disney have once again outdone themselves, giving Cinderella a powerful DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless audio track that impresses from top to bottom. Surround channels are put to good use; you feel you are in the middle of each location.
†††† Dialogue is crisp, sharp and perfectly encoded, and the subwoofer is put to good use to accentuate the chatter and give extra oomph to the music. Speaking of the soundtrack, itís lovely, and never overbears.
†††† Cinderellaís audio/visual presentation is, on the whole, flawless.
|Surround Channel Use|
†††† A meagre selection of supplements.
†††† Another great menu from Disney. A visually striking menu with clips from the movie and lovely snippets of the score, it's easy to navigate and well laid-out.
†††† A pretty standard behind-the-scenes featurette full of interviews and on-set footage. Itís interesting and entertaining enough, but feels more like a promotional clip for Foxtel, rather than something that belongs on a Blu-ray. I would much prefer a meatier documentary, especially for a production like this.
†††† A brief montage of costume test footage which was conducted to see how the fabrics looked on-camera. Nothing special.
†††† I quite enjoyed this. The meatiest extra on the disc is an 11-minute behind-the-scenes look at the ballroom scene, which was perhaps the most pivotal sequence in the movie. Set design, costumes, hair, make-up and choreography are all covered, and a few of the many hundred extras also chime in. I wish it were longer, but Iíll take it. Well worth watching.
†††† Director Kenneth Branagh introduces this alternative opening, which spends more time with Ella as a child. I can see why it was cut, but itís a nice addition nevertheless.
†††† Rounding out the disc is another small behind-the-scenes featurette. This piece looks at the various animals used in the movie. Itís refreshing for a Hollywood movie to use actual animals as opposed to outright CGI, and this is an enjoyable, pleasant featurette which touches on the logistics of such a creative decision. Again, I wish it were longer, but Iíll take it.
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
†††† The American Blu-ray contains the same extras as ours, but with the addition of the 8-minute Frozen Fever short that preceded the movie in cinemas. The short is very good value, so I'm awarding it to the American release. For those interested in importing, the American release is region free. Import away!
†††† An utterly enchanting movie which will enrapture children and leave adults enjoying themselves, rather than looking at their watches. Disney's Blu-ray release is light on extras, but the presentation is so thoroughly tremendous that it's worth picking up. Recommended, though the American release is probably the better way to go due to the addition of the Frozen short.
|DVD||PlayStation 4, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42LW6500. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||LG Tall Boy speakers, 5.1 set-up, 180W|