Tag Archives: Kenneth Branagh

Cinderella

I admit I have a soft spot for fairy tales, Disney and Disney Princesses. Following the recent foray into re-working classic fairy tales with films such as Maleficent and Into The Woods, we now get a more traditional story in the form of Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. But can a modern audience be captured by the magic of an overly familiar tale?

Ella (Lily James) is a young, beautiful and kind girl who lives with her father. Years after her mother passed away her father decides to remarry. Unfortunately the woman he chooses to marry, Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett) treats Ella badly and encourages Ella’s stepsisters Drizella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) to do the same. After her father dies her Stepmother’s behavior worsens. After a ball is arranged at the castle in hopes of finding Prince “Kit” Charming (Richard Madden) a wife, Ella hopes she may be able to attend. But with her wicked stepmother and stepsisters in the way, can Cinderella find a way to go to the ball?

So the big twist with this version of Cinderella is that there is no big twist. There’s no knowing winks to the audience, no post-modern take on events, no cynical asides. It’s actually refreshing to see a fairy tale be told straight and feel sincere instead of feeling like everyone is making fun of the story. The beginning starts off rather slow as we meet Ella’s nauseatingly happy parent. But as soon as tragedy strikes the film soon picks up.

It helps that the film is handsomely made by Kenneth Branagh and the film looks lovely on every level. The costumes, in particular the ones worn by Blanchett are gorgeous. Branagh has also cast the film well with Blanchett stealing most of the scenes as the evil Stepmother. Her daughters also provide great comic relief with their hideous personality and fashion sense. Branagh also has a likeable Ella in Lily James. James’ Ella is kind, likeable and amusingly odd in places-such as when she speaks to animals as though they can understand each other. Ok Fairy Tales aren’t known for their great Feminism values but Ella does gets moments where she quietly defies her stepmother and stands up for what’s right, even if it means sacrificing what she truly wants. Her romance with Madden’s “Kit”, who in this version she meets before the ball, is also rather sweet.

Yes it is ridiculous that they love each other after meeting only once, but as “Kit” later says to his father it’s no more ridiculous than him being expected to pick a bride he’s met for the first time at the ball. And no more ridiculous than a pumpkin and mice being transformed into a carriage and horses. Sometimes you just have to go with the ridiculous, and the magic of a good old fairy tale.

Rating 4/5 – a fine family fairy tale with warmth and humour

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Jack Ryan:Shadow Recruit

Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford and Ben Affleck have all had a turn playing CIA analyst Jack Ryan, with varying results. Now Captain Kirk himself Chris Pine steps up to be the hero of Tom Clancy popular book series. But will he be the definitive Jack Ryan?

Jack Ryan (Chris Pine) is recruited into the CIA with a cover working on Wall Street. when he notices some suspicious transactions by Viktor Cherevin (Kenneth Branagh) he must go to Moscow to prove his suspicions.

I really like Chris Pine. He has charisma, good looks and is a great Kirk in the Star Trek reboot. However he makes for a bland Ryan. In fact everything about this movie is bland from the script, acting and direction. It’s a shame because everyone here could do better.

Pine seems stifled in a generic action role that doesn’t showcase any of his personality. Keira Knightly is stuck in the nagging girlfriend/damsel in distress role that is really irritating. Presumably Kevin Costner had some bills to pay which is why he’s playing such a thankless mentor role. It was also a mistake for director Kenneth Branagh to put himself in the role of the main villain sporting a dodgy Russian accent. It’s disappointing seeing him here as everyone knows Branagh can act and direct so much better than this.

For a film that’s trying to update its hero to the modern time Jack Ryan:Shadow Recruit feels old fashioned-but not in a good way. Nothing feels particularly new or exciting is brought in to freshen up the movie. This feels like it could be any bog standard action/thriller rather than a Jack Ryan movie. It’s telling that this movie is not based on one of Tom Clancy’s novel but an original plot.

I watched this film with my mum and my twin sister Daisy, and after watching it my mum demanded that her thoughts be mentioned in my review. So here are my family’s thoughts on the film:

Mum “Absolute rubbish, I think it was terrible. Nothing like a Tom Clancy novel. I blame you two for making me watch it.”

Daisy “I just thought it was boring.”

I won’t even mention my mum’s view on Keira Knightly. Safe to say she was not a fan before this film so this only compounded this opinion more so.

So unless you really fancy Chris Pine and are prepared to sit through any rubbish to see him, I suggest you give this movie a wide berth.

Rating 1/5 – not even bad in a so-bad-it’s-good kind of way, just a terribly bad film all round

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