“Cinderella” is an unrecognizable remake


“Cinderella” movie poster

Srinithi Raj, Co-Editor-in-Chief

At this point, there’s a Cinderella movie that seems to pop-up every decade or so; heck, every one of my aunts born in different generations has a single adaptation they gravitate toward. Upon watching Amazon’s newest take on this classic tale, I was left crying by the end of the movie: not in a touchy way, but left with an internal inundation of disappointment. 

Brought on the platform for Labor Day weekend, Kay Cannon’s version puts a modern twist on Cinderella with a musical. Set in a monotonous kingdom, Cinderella (Camila Cabello) lives with her status-conscious aunt (Idina Menzel) and stepsisters and dreams of becoming a self-sufficient dressmaker. However, Cinderella must make a choice between pursuing love with Prince Robert (Nicholas Galitzine) and securing her status, or delving into her own creative passions. 

Simply put, the cinematography and costuming are excellent. The color scheme used is vibrant, yet is still muted enough to convey a magical tale. Cannon also employs a variety of memorable longshots and close-ups that keep the audience on their toes with the emotions of the film. In terms of the costumes, especially the ones Cinderella creates, viewers can tell she is an aspiring designer with the level of detail that each of Cinderella’s pieces carries, truly being a visual treat. 

The director also made it a point to include characters of different cultures into her piece and break the trend of having a princess be saved by her prince, which also allowed me to connect more to the themes. For example, she included Cabello herself, Billy Porter (the fairy godmother), and Romesh Ranganathan (Cinderella’s mouse). 

“I didn’t connect to Cinderella as a kid. I connected to the underdog part of it but even her being blue yellow blue-eyed blond-haired, and I’d never liked the notion that someone would come and save me. I wanted to modernize the movie and rewrite it for my younger self,” Cannon said in a recent interview

However, that’s about where the positives of the film ends. Cabello’s acting was mediocre, but her performance was much more commendable, especially for her first film, than that of her Prince, whose role literally seemed to be a piece of eye candy. Cabello’s powerful, pop voice didn’t fit well with some of the songs chosen for her like “You Gotta Be”, and overall her style made it difficult to connect with her as Cinderella. Although pieces such as “Million to One” were well executed, I was surprised the singer/songwriter did not add any originals to the film, as that was something I was looking forward to in the film but never got to hear. While Cannon also made it a point to include many different cultures of individuals into his piece to make the tale relatable to more young people, together their performances didn’t add much flavor to the film. They all did well as isolated parts but together, the film was all but magical and seemed very unsynchronized. 

In addition, so much of the 2021 film focuses on providing backstories to characters and leaves no loose ends, but princess movies always play to the imagination of the viewer and this modern take simplifies too much, again taking away from the magic of the original story. 

Although there is a central conflict of Cinderella’s self-discovery, the film introduces a handful of other side conflicts in the film that are uniquely relevant and exciting, yet these underdeveloped sides stories leave the viewer confused and derailed instead of enthralled by the magic. I found myself having to pause the film occasionally to put together the basic plot on a handful of occasions, detracting from the movie. Consequently, not only does the resolution feel rushed, but meaningful points in the plot are overpowered by general confusion, such as when the prince’s arc in the story is convoluted by that of his sister. 

Especially for a coming-of-age film geared toward younger teens, had the film focused on a singular, well-developed conflict instead of ending up in a choppy mess in the name of adding depth to the film, the overall movie would have been more successful in its plot delivery. 

As the movie came to a close, I was left feeling inspired by the theme of writing one’s own destiny, but also severely taken aback by the plethora of flaws in the casting and basic plot development of the story. Cannon makes a commendable effort to send a message to younger demographics that it’s okay to be unsure of one’s self, but this movie simply derails too much from the original version to even be called a remake. 

Overall, “Cinderella” is a cute musical to watch with the family especially if you liked movies like “Stargirl” and “Ella,”  and the musical is a fun way to introduce younger friends and family to lessons about self-discovery, albeit in a convoluted manner.