The acting is wonderful, the costumes are beautiful, the sets are gorgeous and the film remains faithful to Disney’s animated classic of Cinderella. Yet this 2015 live action retelling of “the sweetest story ever told” found an equal amount of love and hate when it waltzed into theaters last March. With high critical acclaim and little competition for families over Spring Break season, it’s easy to see why the film quickly climbed to $200 million. But many Disney fans were left scratching their heads: What went wrong?
This version of Cinderella is lush and romantic, but aims to please too many people all at once. The beautiful, period-specific sets clash with the bright costumes that draw influence from fashions of the 1940’s. The sophisticated dialogue makes silly animal moments aimed exclusively at small children feel drastically out of place. And with a drawn out climax, you’re ready for the credits to roll before the prince can put the glass slipper back on Cinderella’s foot.
It’s not a bad film by any means, it’s just not destined to become the definitive live action version of Cinderella, which is sad because it certainly had the potential to become that. Think of it this way: If you take the animated classic and remove the songs, remove most of the mice scenes, and somehow add an additional 40-minutes by slowing things down and expanding the prologue to depict the death of both parent’s, you have this version. If that’s what you prefer, than by all means enjoy it. Personally, it didn’t leave me feeling anywhere near as satisfied as the version the talented Disney story men created 65 years ago, but I would never go as far as to say it’s a bad movie.
The characters are mostly true to their animated counterparts, with a few tweaks for better or worse. Prince Charming, now named Kit, is an adventurous kindred spirit to Ella’s character. Lady Tremaine is given some backstory and Kate Blanchett is delicious in this role. The Grand Duke is a bit villainous here, taking quite a turn from his animated counterpart. But perhaps the biggest upset is Cinderella herself. Criticisms of the character in the past are made true here, where her excess optimism allows her to simply sit in her attic singing when locked away, unable to try on the glass slipper. In the animated version, she at least banged on the door and offered advice to the mice to help free her (“Get Bruno!!!). Here, she simply waits patiently to be rescued, singing to pass the time.
Typically, a film that hit theaters in March would make its way to home video in July, but Disney delayed Cinderella until September for some reason (it was available earlier in other countries, too, making the domestic delay even more puzzling). This review covers the Blu-Ray/DVD/HD Digital combo pack, but it is also available as a stand-alone DVD and digitally from all major providers.
Cinderella looks glorious on Blu-Ray, where it is faithfully presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Surprising for a digital-era film, Cinderella has light grain, intentional to make the film look classic. Detail and colors are crisp and clear with no issues to be seen. Fans will be delighted by this presentation and the DVD looks as good as the medium can.
The 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track on the Blu-Ray is wondrous, using the score and ambient sounds to fill all of the speakers. Other audio options include a stereo English descriptive audio track as well as French and Spanish 5.1. On DVD, all three languages are offered in 5.1 along with the stereo descriptive track.
- A Fairy Tale Comes to Life (9:23) – The cast and crew share their excitement for bringing Cinderella to life in this behind-the-scenes featurette.
- Costume Test Fun (2:40) – This costume test reel plays to “The Nutcracker Suite” and also shows clips of the costumes in the final film.
- Staging the Ball (11:27) – This feature highlights how much work went into creating the ball scene and reveals the great details you won’t catch while watching the film.
- Alternate Opening (3:03) – Kenneth Branagh introduces this extended opening to the film, which features more of young Ella.
- Ella’s Furry Friends (3:43) – The animal trainer leads this short feature about the animals used in the film.
- Frozen Fever (7:56) – The short follow-up to the wildly successful Frozen premiered in theaters
If you link your digital copy through Disney Movies Anywhere, there are six exclusive deleted scenes that can be streamed amounting to nearly 15-minutes of additional content. Each features an introduction by Kenneth Branagh and DMA clearly has them out of order since he claims one as the first deleted scene, but it’s the third in the bunch.
- The Search for Cinderella (1:51) – On her way home from the ball, Cinderella has a scary encounter with the Grand Duke.
- Getting to Know You (2:33) – Kit and Cinderella share an extended meeting at the palace.
- Ella’s Childhood (3:37) – An extended version of the extended opening with more of young Ella.
- The Mourning (5:22) – This heartbreaking scene shows Ella being forced into servitude gradually and shows how she saved the butterfly gift from her father from being sold.
- Serving (1:28) – This short scene shows how huge the house is that Cinderella has to maintain alone.
- Dear Kit (3:35) – Ella tries to contact Kit after the ball by writing a letter.
The only bonus features on the DVD are Ella’s Furry Friends and Frozen Fever.
Packaging & Design
Cinderella is housed in a standard Blu-Ray case with disc holders on either side. This case fits inside a foil embossed slipcover that sparkles and dazzles passersby when they see it on an end cap at their local superstore. Inserts include a themed Disney Movies Rewards code, which also acts as your digital copy code through Disney Movies Anywhere. There is an advertised promotion where buying this and Aladdin earns you two free charms (glass slipper and magic lamp) and for $8.99, you can also purchase a charm bracelet and receive a bonus charm of Cinderella’s coach. Both Cinderella charms appear to be leftovers from a similar promotion back in 2011 when the animated classic made its Blu-Ray debut, but the Aladdin charm is new.
Both discs open with ads for Disney Movies Anywhere, Disneynature Born in China, Inside Out and Tomorrowland. Selecting “Sneak Peeks” from the main menu adds promos for Disney Movie Rewards, Disney Parks, Once Upon a Time and Disneynature Monkey Kingdom. The main menu features images from the film embedded in a kaleidoscope of Cinderella’s glass slipper.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.