Saturday, March 14, 2015

Movie Review: Disney's Cinderella (Live action)

"Cinderella 2015 official poster" by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia -
I enjoy fairy tales and seeing variations on the classic tales. Sometimes they turn out well, and sometimes they aren't. The trailer made the movie look like a faithful adaption of the animated feature, and it was.

Cinderella is a live-action, fantasy, family film by The Walt Disney Company that is very faithful to their animated feature from the mid-20th Century. It is appropriate for all ages.

The Good

Visuals. The visuals were stunning from the costumes to the scenery and everything in between. It couldn't have looked more like the Cinderella movie I was expecting.

Casting. The movie was really well cast. Everyone played their parts well and fit the roles, although the Fairy Godmother could have been much zanier.

Filled Out the Story. This movie does fill out the story by actually showing Cinderella's birth, her family before her mother died, and the change in her family when her Stepmother arrives, scenes we heard about in an opening narration in the animated version.

The Bad

Faithfullness. This movie was TOO faithful to the animated feature. It brings nothing new to the table, nothing fresh, nothing memorable. It makes one wonder why it was even made.

Motivation. This movie starts to explore the motivation behind why Cinderella is so kind, why the Stepmother and Stepsisters are so cruel, and what challenges the Prince faces by marrying for love and not advantage, but it doesn't go far enough. You begin to feel some sympathy and better understand each character's motivation, but only to the point you understand intellectually. You never feel sympathy or empathy for any of them, which you should and is a missed opportunity on the filmmakers' part.

Kindness. We get it. You should be kind. Kindness brings rewards. This movie hits the viewer over the head with a 2x4 over and over again. Had the message been subtler, it would have been stronger. But being so blatant it kind of turns it into a running gag, which is a shame because it's a relevant message that people need to hear.

Pacing. The movie dragged from start to finish. Part of that was knowing exactly what was coming up next so there was never any real excitement or tension. No one was ever in any real danger. There was never any great passion, anger, happiness, or any other emotion. Everyone was pretty mellow the entire film.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I would like to have seen something I haven't seen before. For example, the movie Ever After was an incredibly original take on the Cinderella story that I watched over and over again. And it was copied dozens of times to the point everyone got kind of sick of that take. This movie offered very little beyond what we got with the animated feature, no twists, no fresh takes, no classic scenes or quotable lines. Nothing.

I also would have enjoyed music other than a generic background score. They could easily have incorporated some of the songs form the animated feature or written new songs. But they didn't, and the movie suffered.


Overall this was a good movie if you just want to see the animated movie acted out with live humans or if you loved the original and consider it sacred and anything differing a sacrilege. If you are looking for anything fresh, original, or new, you'll be sorely disappointed.  I give it a 3 out of 5 boxes of popcorn and recommend waiting for the home video release or to watch it free on TV.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Movie Review: Big Eyes

I am a huge Tim Burton fan, but lately his movies have been falling flat for me. When I heard about his latest I got a little excited, because it looked and sounded more like classic Burton, and I wasn't disappointed for the most part.

Big Eyes is a live-action drama inspired by a true story but with a generous amount of creative licensing about a wife who paints and her husband who took credit for it. It is rated PG-13 for language and adult themes. It is suitable for teenagers and up.

The Good

Cinematography. Tim Burton is probably the greatest master of cinematography since Orson Wells and Fritz Lang. Every shot in this film is beautiful and still tells a story and communicates everything the viewer needs to know and feel.

Casting. Tim Burton is known for his perfect casting, and this movie is no exception. The actors and actresses cast were perfect for their roles and really made you believe they were the characters. I forgot I was watching Amy Adams at times.

Inspired. This movie was inspired by real events, which means it resembled the truth only superficially so it could tell a really good story by inventing characters and events that never happened but make for a better story. The overall message and story was preserved.

Plot. This movie had a really good pace. It was never rushed yet never felt like it dragged. Everything was developed enough for the audience to buy it and then the movie moved on. Props to whomever edited this film.

The Bad

Lack of Tim Burton touches. I almost couldn't tell this was a Tim Burton film with how straight forward everything was and how little stylization there was in everything from the sets to the costumes.

Mood. This movie is very heavy and sad until the last five minutes. It begins with a woman leaving her first husband and ends with her leaving her second husband. While the story it told was a sad story for so much of the time, it was almost too depressing. The audience needs an occasional break to regroup and prepare for the next set of trials.

What I Would Like to Have Seen

I would have appreciated a few more light-hearted touches to balance out all the heavy and depressing struggles the protagonist goes thru. And I missed the beautiful title sequences that begin and establish the mood of almost every Tim Burton film. This one had a simple pan of a painting. He could have done so much more such as showing the painting being painted step by step.


Overall, Big Eyes was a really good movie. It told a solid story, had a tight plot that moved at the right pace, but was kind of depressing until the last 5 minutes. You'd never guess it was a Tim Burton film -- it lacked his usual signature touches aside from the great casting and beautiful cinematography. But I still recommend it and give it a solid 4 out of 5 boxes of popcorn.