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Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is meant to take this Marvel Universe into a whole new level. It introduces a villain that could lead these heroes into dark situations by giving them one of their ultimate tests. The movie lives up to that tone; it's not as humorous as its predecessor, and that is definitely not a bad thing since we want this material to step up into a grittier and much challenging approach, but the real problem is its plotting. There's so much build up to juggle, starting from its own plot to the upcoming installments of this franchise. It's still fun if you can tolerate its stalling foreshadowing, but to those who seek for compelling narrative, it somehow disappoints. Still, there's so much action and large scale worth checking out in this summer blockbuster.
The movie introduces new characters and new locations, telling us that this is definitely bigger than the first movie. When it proceeds to the actual plot, there is some intrigue to what the titular main villain is capable of. And so, there is more mayhem happening on screen, but they essentially exists for the story, of course. Though, after those nearly unending amount of heavy action, the movie suddenly settles to explore what else is going on in this universe. This middle act somehow intrudes its main plot, aside of some few drama, the movie is pretty much preparing to what will happen next. It's feels long, even if it's actually not. At these moments, it doesn't feel like it's supposed to develop enough of the actual storyline. Many of the subplots in those minutes seems to belong to another set of movies that are yet to exist. Sure, we discover more information from its characters, but most of the time, it's a filler of cliffhangers.
What really troubles here is how it aims to be a setup of numerous events, like the phase 3 of Marvel Studios and the climax. The movie would have been nicer if it explores more of Ultron's abilities and not just making plans, controlling drones and preaching monologues (the film kind of only teases and mostly verbalizes that he can hijack through networks worldwide.) Or build up a different theme for the Avengers team instead of them trying to hate each other again like in the first one. But if we're not talking about its story, then the movie works magnificently in its action. To those who are in for some bigger, louder and more destructive than ever set pieces, then this sequel must be a marvelous feast. The Hulk vs. Stark's Hulkbuster Armor scene is such a glorious sequence of just seeing things getting hit and destroyed, more well constructed and thrilling than a mediocre blockbuster would do. The rest of the action is a tremendous blend of pretty spectacles, sudden suspense, sudden comedy and impressive choreography. As popcorn cinema goes, this is perfect for a superhero movie experience.
Aside of the action, nothing spices these movies up more than its actors. The cast does their thing; with Robert Downey Jr. trying to add more depth to Tony Stark than just bringing more memorable punchlines, Chris Evans stays cool as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth sticking with his charisma as Thor. There's an interesting turn between Black Widow and The Hulk, which Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo buying into their characters' chemistry. Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen are additions that can be worth rooting for, with their characters' mysterious nature and well, accents. And finally, what everyone is so stoked about is James Spader as the main villain, Ultron. Spader verbally brings more menace to the character, understanding the angst and potential threat behind this robot. There is levity exists in this character as well, and he nicely balanced it with Ultron's darkside.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron is a little too burdened by the future. As an exclusive narrative, the movie seems lacking, sure the action is too awesome to contain, but when it comes to the storytelling, it feels like it isn't going anywhere further until the climax. But even for a film that is reserved enough from showing a much complex or much adventurous plot, it's still a grand experience, thanks to its undeniably exciting action, some interesting character-work, and other clever elements. But then, we want these movies to offer beyond that standards; as in a story that could move forward way far behind the first Avengers movie. Well apparently, it does, but the effort of going through that result just doesn't seem enough. It's more innovation, then save it for later. Then again, there's nothing wrong if you still want to spend two hours seeing our favorite heroes clash together, even in a senseless way. Because blockbusters are supposed to be fun and this movie still lives up to that promise.
While We're Young (2014)
While We're Young is mainly about comparing between two current generations. A typical comedy would normally make it a silly opposition about which one is better, but the movie doesn't make that as a conflict at all. The movie is more concerned on how its main characters acknowledge that they're at the point of a mid-life and finding a way ignore that by interacting a younger crowd. It's simply engaging stuff, almost devoid from the common comedy movie formula until the third act went through some climax that feels different from its more sincere setup, but even with that conventional turn, the film continues to be clever and sticks to its whole theme.
It starts with the childless main couple beginning to realize their age and almost makes a big deal about it until they discover how youth today actually live their lives after befriending with a younger couple and try to exchange each other's medium and lifestyle from the time they grew up with. The most typical way to treat this idea is to aim their new behavior for laughs or go against the other generation, but the movie rather takes it simple by just having them tag along with both of their interests. It may not be too sensational, but it gives a pleasantly charming feel within those interactions. There is still a sense of division between the generations, like how their peers couldn't relate to their new appeal. It kind of jokes about how odd cultures have gone, but the movie doesn't want to be too critical about it either and remains understanding both sides, anyway.
There is also a side story that involves their work as filmmakers of documentary and the movie still explores its main idea by showing how even the ethics of their industry have changed. And this leads to a third act that often exists in generic comedies, but the movie doesn't take those sequences as a punchline. Though, most of that part feels like it's shifting into a whole new topic, but as it turns out, it actually tries to build up a more reasonable contrast between the perspectives of the young and the old. When you think it's going to be in a clichéd direction, it's the writing that keeps things authentic. The acting are thoroughly natural on what they do. Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts are as likable as always, while Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried bring the charm in their characters.
While We're Young is pretty likable, even when it leads to a weirdly contrived conclusion, but either way, it still works, thanks to its genuinely charming performances and smart writing that has the right intention. The characters are rather fascinated at these hobbies and things that are popular from each other's generations, than making it a serious competition for themselves. But it still concerns at a person's mindsets and change of attitude due to age, which somehow becomes the actual conflict of the story. In the end, it finds a good heart anyway, and it's quite interesting to just see the distinction, but also the similar appeal between these featured generations.
Classic Spongebob Returns
Spongebob Squarepants is one of the greatest animated television shows of all time. It sounds weird, but for some reason, it shaped the sense of humor of a generation and possibly one of the inspirations that helped exceed the imagination and creativity of many cartoon shows that came after. The show itself has been terrific in its first three seasons, but after its first feature film, it slowly loses its touch until every character becomes something else other than what they were once known for. This latest Spongebob film might be the end of its glory as it seemingly panders the audience into another lame Alvin and the Chipmunks/The Smurfs approach, but surprisingly that only becomes a marketing stunt, and it turns out that most of the movie is basically just like the show, but at its original form. It didn't need any grand or blockbuster type of plot to save the material, we just need to revisit the stuff that we truly loved about Spongebob.
Other than its creative animation and zany undersea world, Spongebob Squarepants has always been known for its richly established characters and unique sense of humor. I haven't seen the show in a while, specifically the newer episodes, but I do remember how the ones that followed season four have become paler incarnations of the show. This feature film, while stuck in posing as a typical family movie fare, is actually meant to stay loyal to what really defines this show. The characters have gone back to their classic personalities (Spongebob can now be reasonable again than just a complete goofball) and the humor is smartly priceless in an ultimately unhinged way. The film doesn't offer anymore bigger plot than retrieving the Krabby Patty secret formula, it's all about fooling at the audiences as it messes with the logic and their senses, the Spongebob way, of course.
The mix of animation and live-action is definitely never a stranger to Spongebob, but its involvement is often taken as a joke. Here, it's supposed to be its central idea. Though, it takes so long for them to get out of the water, in spite of its title, but when they do, it still sticks to its own surreal, extremely ludicrous style. But their welcoming antics up there felt forced, in comparison. The 3D stuff really exists to attract the viewers who thinks it's gonna be a cute adventure with the characters as silly superheroes, but it's mostly just a small payoff to those who have that expectation. It kind of cheats them, otherwise it's a cool trick for instead luring them to what makes this material so enjoyable. But we don't have to underestimate this approach too much, because apparently it's still pretty fun when they are in the real world, giving the humans some hilarious reactions, like the one who's wondering if the Krabby Patty he's eating is hallucinogenic after encountering the gang as superheroes.
As feature film goes, it doesn't go beyond bombastic, if it does then it's all about the weirdness instead of epic proportions. This is basically just like a new episode on a length of an actual movie. And the cast has always been great no matter what. Out of all the cartoons Tom Kenny has been, Spongebob will always be his best and he once again brings the lovable charm to the character. While Antonio Banderas makes a fun turn as the villain, but his moments are the one where he interacts to talking seagulls which amazingly works for this character.
The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water is what the fans deserve. Not sure how the newcomers would exactly react to it, but this movie fully represents the true spirit of the show. It would be a brilliant surprise to the ones who missed this great side of Spongebob. It didn't need any deeper sentiments or darkness (unless we're referring to its twisted humor, because it gets a little close to that.) Sure it's not the best episode ever either, but it has so many elements that remind us why we loved this show in the first place. The out-of-water scenes weren't as bad as many fans were worried about, it's just some randomly crazy addition to an already fun ride. Overall, it's more nostalgic than groundbreaking, I do hope this movie would be the salvation of this show. It won't change anyone's life or anything, we just like Spongebob to be Spongebob again and that's already given too much to a fan like me who grew up with the cartoon.
Furious Seven (2015)
The Fast and The Furious franchise has gone way out of hand in this seventh installment, as it begins with its main villain leaving an entirely wrecked hospital which is done by him, a one man army who is about to take down Toretto and his team. And their mission gets to involve even more crazier stunts than ever, and these characters often mentioning about how they fully acknowledged of what they've been through. Just like what the last two films had promised, these movies will get dumber and dumber, but at the same time a lot exciting. And it is, though the direction kind of overdoes his own style, which can cause minor distraction through the fun that is already happening. But this movie is relentless in ever way, it may not make sense on what they're doing, but again it's always been better this way.
Once again, the team is hooked up with a mission impossible, but this time out of revenge from its enemy. There isn't much new other than expanding the scale of the action's utter insanity, but before all that, the movie concentrates more on the personal life of its heroes, like Letty unable to feel normal in her old life and Brian who cannot let go of the action despite of the need of staying with his own family. These and the comedy are the only human element containing in this film because once they are in the field, they totally become superheroes that can push any limit and incapable of dying unless the movie demands them to. There is still suspense, of course, but the people who keeps thinking about the logic of its impossibility will have a hard time, indeed. Otherwise, it's just sick fun.
The plot doesn't make much of a sense either, but then, it is written to create a set of outrageous stunts, as they look for a drive that can track down their enemy who is already behind them, constantly. So they go to these random places just to setup a particular action scene and then proceed. But it isn't only about cars, there's also cameos of great on screen fighters like Tony Jaa and Ronda Rousey who have sidelined action scenes with one of the crew while the main characters are driving their way, either being chased by more enemies or jumping between buildings with broken brakes. It's over-the-top, for the good reasons, of course.
James Wan is more known in the horror genre, but I do remember his other action movie, Death Sentence, was a pretty exciting film. Here, he does plenty of styles with prominent shots that highlights cars, hot women and locations, even more. The action also has too much quick cut editing, which can be exhausting; last helmer of the series, Justin Lin did it cleaner, but otherwise, Wan made a larger sense of scale in his action, anyway. And for the cast, Vin Diesel once again gruff and broods, but that already defines this character. Jason Statham plays the main villain at his coldest. The film is smart enough to give Dwayne Johnson's character a little break at leading their mission to bring a cooler guy like Kurt Russell to take his place.
Furious 7 ends with a tribute of the late Paul Walker, where you can really feel how the cast, especially Vin Diesel, love and missed the actor, a scene that indicates that their friendship will forever live on, even if he departs to another lane. You will understand if you've actually seen it, but that scene alone made it worth it, for a film that is already given itself too much action movie pleasure. But these movies haven't come to this emotional side that really felt this genuine. Of course most of it is loud and crazy, but once it settles to this part, it immediately makes it up for the whole experience.
Kids Movie Fluff
Home is one of the most standard family films you'd get, in spite of its likable character designs, colorful visuals and intriguing premise. The film doesn't seem to offer beyond those dazzling spectacles and unending comedic antics. While that's not a terrible thing, the overall film feels more of a distraction for children to see in cinema. There is a totally appealing world built here and there is a theme hidden somewhere, but Home rather just conforms to the typical style of CGI kids movies today that follows the fast paced energetic set of punchlines and action until it finally decided to reveal what the whole story is all about. The overall film is undeniably adorable, but we've come to love animated movies even better than this generic quality.
It all sets in a friendly invasion by an alien race that is hiding from an enemy, since they are new in planet Earth, they don't exactly understand enough of the world thus they have to humorously misuse most of its objects, having a hard time using their language, and make a mess around every place, usually landmarks. The main character, Oh, then meets a young human girl who at first hated these aliens for capturing her mother after separating every human to an isolated civilization, but slowly earns trust after befriending with Oh. The center here seems to be about avoiding naivety and misjudgments or something. The ending also seems like it has this same sentiment, but the plot doesn't do much to build that up pretty well. Sure, most of it takes place in a car with the two heroes talking and learning each other's culture, mainly treated as a gag, but the narrative feels so uncertain, we're just stuck with these two fooling around and getting involve with more trouble until the film decided to jump into its third act. Like everything happens so randomly.
It's full of energy, but at the same time it sort of feels lazy. The story contains some interesting ideas and themes that could transcend itself from its first impression, but the film rather prioritizes the most common choices to absolutely keep the children's attention, which are the ones that don't necessarily help making the storytelling compelling. It may have ended with a heartwarming message, but everything else is so drowned with sudden action and humor, and so little inspiration is left to the audience. But the animation is cute, it's definitely designed that way. Everything looks so whimsical; what could have been a disastrous alien invasion, rather makes the world look like some sort of an amusement park. And how the characters look is so cartoony that this studio might earn another memorable character. Too bad, those designs only go that far. The vocal performances are delightful enough to bring them to life.
Home needs more tweaks, mostly in its own plot. So much potential surrounding in its world, the movie rather focuses on what the mass would usually get in these animated movies. It may be delightful, there is some creativity in its visuals and it's easy to like these characters and the enthusiasm behind their voices, but it's also forgettable, due to its really uninspired storytelling. It's like they just threw everything together and sat around, letting the cuteness and random sentiments do the talking, but they somehow forget how it works, or just lacks the care it deserves. But whatever, just like what I said, this is perfect to distract the children, but this won't end up being a classic or anything.
There are reasons why people are afraid of clowns, this movie doesn't exactly represented much of it, it is more of a creature feature that could have been anything else, but there are still reasons to fear this kind of monster. Clown is ludicrous, but that is already expected to a movie about a killer clown. No matter how much grim the titular monster is compared to Stephen King's iconic villain, Pennywise, the movie still manages to bring some twisted self-aware humor among the gross violence. It doesn't offer beyond the total horror, but then, all of its scares already made it enjoyable enough.
Clown didn't have to wait for an exposition to move along with the plot, after the birthday party, the main character is already consumed by the clown costume, leading to a number of unpleasant scenarios of wounding his own body and having strange behavior, with the other characters being amused and terrified by it. When it introduces the origins of the clown, the movie becomes full bonkers, even with the seriousness delivered by one of the characters. But it never really underestimated the concept, while it's still utterly ridiculous, the movie goes deep within the terror; when the main character is gruesomely transforming into a monstrous clown and the probability of him harming others, especially children.
The plot doesn't lead to anything else compelling other than its horror movie roots, but the movie already did a solid job at moving its story forward and building what's worse to come. The only mess comes around at the third act where challenging dilemmas are continuous until the film finally decided to give up, it's both overlong and anti-climatic. But none of that matters if you're already having fun with the craziness, in fact, this is a horror film that rarely stops at subplots. The acting is solid for a horror film, they come with a natural reaction to the horror they face, except for Peter Stormare, but his campy acting fits perfectly in this environment, anyway.
Clown is an effective scary clown movie, in spite of turning its monster into a literal savage beast instead of featuring what people would normally fear about clowns, like a disturbing vintage makeup. But that makes it easier for most audience to be sold by its creeps, if they can stand the violence. This is not one of those indie-horror films that has a hidden meaning behind, this is an outright horror that constantly shows a lot of tension and violence. Even when it sometimes take a joke about its premise, it still makes us take its terror real seriously. We see a nose being torn off, teeth falling apart, brains that are made of candy(?), etc. Those are the weirdness of the film, and as horror movies go, this is an immediate pleasure.
Robot Overlords (2014)
Embracing its Campiness
The title, Robot Overlords, alone already indicates that this is the campiest movie to exist in this generation, too dated that it would be an amusement for today's common moviegoers. It sounds like one of those generic fake films that are typically featured in romcoms or teens movies where it has a scenario in a movie theater, because apparently the production couldn't afford product placing an actual film, or basically just portraying or satirizing what the mass choose to pay for their price admissions. Robot Overlords does sum up with that standard, it's formulaic about its own plot: an evil force, unlikely heroes, a protagonist who has something special inside him which becomes the only hope to save the day. It's a total cliché, but this is one of those where people could shrug them off and see the charm of this little fodder. As a B-movie (for the "Family" genre in particular), it may have one of those corny qualities, but there is an appropriate amount of fun. There's nothing novel about it in the end, but this is a film that intentionally gives you the pleasure to turn off your brain.
Aside of its title, the movie seems totally committed to be this cheesy, but that doesn't let the negativity get in the way. The storyline is totally simple, it never tries to say something deeper or political or something else. Dystopian future movies tend to bring up something thought-provoking, but this film just sticks to the classic saving-the- world premise. And for once, it feels refreshing, specifically for not stopping by providing an overlong sentimental drama or a romantic subplot. The characters are only on a quest where they are often encountering robots, other ridiculous ideas and little twists that don't betray what it has setup. Otherwise, there is nothing actually special about it, but there's a real momentum that makes it easy to watch. When the robots start clashing, it gets too loud, the effects look good enough for a B-movie, bringing a sense of scale for these typically designed machines. but the shining moments are basically when the heroes are finding new discoveries in this world, it's basically just embracing what this should be an adventurous ride.
And just like any generic action film, the hero is the good-looking white guy. There is also a girl (who thankfully isn't mainly designed for love interest, since it totally shoehorned the romantic subplot) and the comic relief best friend. And there is a little kid, and this kid is always curious, because why not? The only interesting character side here is the villain who is attracted with the hero's mother, which brings an intriguing little extra conflict. The acting is B-movie at best; Callan McAuliffe has everything you would ask for a bland protagonist. While Ben Kingsley is delightful as the performance slowly hams it up the more the villain unmasks his true colors.
Robot Overlords might be too lame for this era of an even more convincing and edgier blockbusters. Movies like this would easily be groaned at and we can already see why. And for some reason, the film seems aware of its own trashiness and instead makes a simple fun out of it. Unlike many dumb B-movies out there that doesn't accept its absurdity by glossing it over with gravity that makes no sense until it stops being watchable, this film at least has the joy over its preposterous nature; the hero kids do impossible things, the villain sneers his plans, and they're against giant robots. But again, there's nothing brilliant about it, it never gave us anything meaningful in the end, but it sure is amazing seeing a movie like Robot Overlords that is confident enough to be released in today's blockbuster cinema.
The Zero Theorem (2013)
Exploring the Philosophy
The question about what's the meaning of life is wandered around The Zero Theorem. This is an existential subject that takes away its ideas too easily, but yet made it seem complex by the queer style of director Terry Gilliam. There isn't much of a plot, whatever keeps the whole story running is when everybody's asking questions, making arguments and introducing concepts that have something to do with the main character's pivotal questions. It didn't leave any revolutionary answer, but most of the experience is utterly interesting, staying on point for its center. It may get too obvious and the contrary of that; but for the whole thematic building alone is what makes The Zero Theorem worth seeing.
There is too many details in this world that is vaguely explained, what should be clear here is what it is trying to say about the mysteries of life. It kind of depicts that reality is just a dull place that people tend to embellish it with media, religion, etc. it may take place in the future, but what it is trying to sum up here seems like a general portrait. There's also the skeptics, the ones who don't believe there's a true meaning of existence and knowing the benefit of accepting it. This is basically a set of clashing opinions, taking us to places that symbolically represents these arguments. The characters are also brought up to this allegory, like how Quohen keeps referring himself as We, or the kid who calls everyone Bob. Nobody's different; we're all delusional, seeking the same satisfaction, and still haven't found the truth about everything, apparently.
In spite that these philosophies are meant to be grounded and important, the visuals that Terry Gilliam deliver are still outright otherworldly and amusingly zany that many might find it out of place, but personally it actually isn't. There is a realistic hint of commentary around the quirky places, one that doesn't seem fantastical enough to feel alienated by its culture. Another merit that keeps up the whole experience is definitely the performances. Christophe Waltz is, as always, terrific; he captures the character's void in his universe, but also the earnest hope pursuing the "phone call" this man is seeking. He's surrounded with great talents as well, but the most conspicuous ones: Mélanie Thierry gives an appropriate strangeness within the sociable world of Quohen, while young Lucas Hedges energetically steals the scenes whenever he's with Waltz.
The Zero Theorem may not be subtle enough and probably ended up not fully resolving what the main character has been trying to prove throughout the movie, but then it does gain a lot in its own journey, providing some interesting perspectives in society, rationalists, existentialists, etc. describing them in a fantasy-like future that sort of pictures what drives more of Quohen's fear of futility, and even unable to find what's more valuable in life than meaning. It's just that these ideas are expressed tad too evidently. But the appeal of the director's style made it look fascinating, anyway. The result is more than nothing, even though the conclusion is either a mystery or a setback to what it was fighting for. Nonetheless, this is still an interesting analysis to settle into.
Flashy Cover Up
Last year's Divergent was a film that not even its skilled director or high ambitions could fix the problems of its source material. The sequel, Insurgent, is a way different movie, since it's now handled by someone who is known for stylishly dumb action films. The film has gone to that same direction as well. It can be both a good and a bad thing; it elevates the entertainment value, but also leads to a lot of ridiculous ideas. It's quite hard to call it a better film since it has lost the intriguing flavor of its predecessor, but many would call it more fun, but the YA genre has its own way of appreciating its viewers and this straightforward action movie approach would hardly be described as anything more than an impressive spectacle for these movies.
For its credit, this movie has more plot than the first one. We get to see the heroes explore more places even though it no longer lingers in its innovative ideas. But for an easy pleasure, the pacing is swift and the action is constant, but the story still offers some themes worth seeking out; settling into Tris's trauma and behavioral issues, and then some social commentaries. The former is often played out with bombastic bad dream sequences while the latter is understated by making its conflict look like any generic corrupt governments. But the real trouble here is how both of its core and its action don't mix well together. Putting its serious situations next to a stylish action scene just makes it look silly as a whole. But it does have a clever additional climax, while preposterous, it still manages to somewhat resolve the arc of Tris.
The new director is known for the mediocre RED movies and, y'know, R.I.P.D. His style definitely overpowers each scenario, but he does spare the same breathing room of the first movie when it comes to providing details. The action is just too absurd compared to the film's occasional gravity. Some might call it exciting, there is mild tension in some parts, but much of the priority is to make things look cool, which also glosses some supposedly grim moments, with snazzy CGI and cool swagger.
The best strength of the film lies on the performances: Shailene Woodley still buys into her character. She exhibits Tris beyond to what is now written to the character. The villains have become the lesser of themselves, but that fact is indeed surpassed by their talents; with Kate Winslet giving a sense of humanity to the suddenly unreasonable Jeanine, while Miles Teller brings a measure of levity in Peter. Other great stars like Naomi Watts and Octavia Spencer are underused and yet brought an impact in their scenes.
Insurgent is not a good movie, but the viewers might value it as one of the rare not-good young-adult movies that isn't boring. I mean many YAs are bad and dull, it almost becomes unbearable. This one however would only be bragged about its silliness and sometimes laughable choices that instead becomes a guilty pleasure. There are some cool action and all, but again this genre asks for something beyond spectacle and maybe sophisticated, and there were only few movies that got it right, so far. Because it's possible to get past by the romantic clichés or the same dystopian future/revolution tropes. The source material may not be that great, but it still considers some interesting things that a film adaptation could transcend, but the pretentious action really gets in the way and that doesn't necessarily justify its deeper potentials. It may be a popcorn entertainment, but if this was labeled as another action film, it would remain not diverged.
Beyond All Magic
Fairy tale movie adaptations today either retell the story with a darker tone or add a progressive twist. This version of Cinderella makes none of those turns and instead stays faithful, to the animated Disney classic, at least, but still slightly polishes something within the storyline. The 1950's version was straightforward, but made memorable by the songs and the animal characters, this version however brought a different core and establishes more of Cinderella herself. The result is too simple, maybe kind of contrived, but when you focus at the heart of the character, that's where it becomes endearing. The rest of the movie is a good entertainment that also has the stuff you may expect in a Kenneth Branagh movie. It didn't break any grounds, but there is still a lot of charm in this Cinderella.
Following the basic storyline would make it feel contrived, it becomes more obvious with a voice-over narrator, but this is an adaptation that takes things easy, anyway. However, there is a strong theme in this narrative, which is centralizing the humbleness of Cinderella. It's all over the place, it features the antagonists as superficial people who don't understand the true value of what they should desire. There's also a clever a parallelism within the love story; the Prince, who was once an obsolete type of romantic figure, is now depicted with the modesty that could match with Cinderella's. These messaging and storytelling may end up looking pretty obvious, but how it embraces this sentiment makes it quite admirable.
In another side, the movie is just entertaining, though it really minimizes the antics of the mice and lacks any musical numbers, but nothing goes wrong with those ridiculously hammy scenes with the cruel stepfamily. You may also notice some of the director's trademarks scattered around, like some Shakespearean inspiration at the subplots. The performances, specifically the leading actresses, made it much worth it. Lily James really makes herself feel like a princess, especially when she is dancing with her ballgown, she brings a dashing innocence that is deserving to the character. Cate Blanchette, while the villain is still written as a caricature, gives the evil stepmother some depth and terrifying pizazz.
Cinderella isn't really meant to transcend the material, it basically just given the story a different aim and mindset. There is still actual magic in this rework, but the film makes sure that those enchanting spells and other fantasy stuff don't gloss over the real point of this story; seeing more of the humility in the character of Cinderella. Focusing on that intention would make you appreciate this version better, though the old animated film is still an unforgettable classic that this didn't quite capture its own delight, but this Cinderella is clearly making things more fitting for modern viewers, mostly understanding what's more profound in this tale than just having friendly creatures and magical Fairy Godmothers.