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Monday, 06 September 2021 13:58

‘Cinderella’ a musical misfire

Every time we see another remake/reboot/reimagining of a classic tale, it begs the question: is this necessary?

Look, I’m not naïve – I recognize the nature of the business, with the familiarity of IP ruling the day. Even so, you have to wonder whether what we’re getting is something that people actually want to watch. Are people clamoring to see some vague variation on a story they’ve seen a thousand times before?

The folks behind the new “Cinderella” – currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video – seem to think so. As to whether they’re right, well … I have my doubts.

This new version of the classic fairy tale is directed and adapted for the screen by Kay Cannon, best known as the writer of all three films in the “Pitch Perfect” series. Basically, it’s the story you know with a few feints at feminine empowerment and a whole bunch of pop songs that have been put through the musical theatre wringer. It’s OK for what it is, but the truth is that it’s basically a mediocre jukebox musical and not much else.

This is a story that feels polished to within an inch of its life, to where there’s almost nothing there, all style and no substance, despite its best efforts to have you believe otherwise. It’s like a gift, gloriously sparkly and beribboned, festooned with all manner of decorative accents, but when you open the box … there’s nothing inside.

Published in Movies

There’s a reason that Grimm’s Fairy Tales remain embedded in the cultural consciousness even now, over two centuries since their appearance on the literary scene. So many of those stories, while collected in the early 19th century, sported origins much older – ancient even. They are archetypal and allegorical, framing the good and evil of the world in a manner both fantastical and mundane.

It doesn’t hurt that a lot of them are scary as s—t.

So it makes sense that we would see adaptations of these tales – some direct, some loose, some tangential – for the big screen. There’s a universality to them that appeals, and they lend themselves quite well to cinematic translation. But that same universality also means that it can be hard to figure out what’s going too far and what’s not going far enough.

The new film “Gretel and Hansel,” directed by Oz Perkins from a screenplay by Rob Hayes, suffers from that particular problem – it seems as though the filmmakers are never sure just how far they want to push the envelope, which means that for every challenging, provocative moment, there’s another bit of formulaic boilerplate. The result is a movie that is wildly uneven and never settles into any kind of real groove.

It’s a shame, because there are some good things here. The performances are solid, while the establishing of atmosphere is spot-on. There are a couple of good slow-burn scares as well. Unfortunately, that’s all wound up in a too-thin plot that feels empty despite a sub-90-minute runtime; far too little actually happens here.

Again – moments of excellence, but sadly not enough of them.

Published in Movies

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