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Cinderella (Blu-ray Review)

CinderellaDisneys beloved and empowering fairytale told in a new beautiful way, Cinderella, arrives on Blu-ray Combo Pack, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere September 15th! The bonus features includes over 12 minutes of additional scenes, the “ Frozen Fever” theatrical short and more! We have an enchanting treat to share with you from the bonus features below.   The film stars Cate Blanchett as Stepmother (“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”), Lily James as Cinderella (TV’s “Downton Abbey”), Richard Madden(TV’s “Game of Thrones”) as Prince, Stellan Skarsgård (Marvel’s: “The Avengers,” “Thor”) as Grand Duke, Holliday Grainger (“Jane Eyre”) as Anastasia, Derek Jacobi (“The King’s Speech,” “Underworld: Evolution”) as King, and Helena Bonham Carter as Fairy Godmother (“Alice in Wonderland,” “The King’s Speech”).  The film is directed by none other than Kenneth Brangh (Thor, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit).

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Film 

Celebrate Disney’s “Cinderella,” a modern classic that shines with beauty, imagination…and magic! Despite being mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters, a spirited Ella resolves to take charge of her fate. Add a royal ball, a Fairy Godmother and a glass slipper, and suddenly – magic becomes reality!

Leading up to this film, I think many were worried that this take on Cinderella was going to be that of the Maleficent and Snow White & The Huntsman mold.  Some dulled up, uber serious, “grimdark” version of a fairy tale we all know.  Basically, try and sell it to boys.  When the first trailer dropped, I think folks were shocked that it looked like the actual fairy tale.  And now, having seen it (finally), I can say, wow, what a breath of fresh air this was.

Kenneth Branagh is the perfect person to direct this one, lets just get that out there first.  He’s definitely a guy you go to when you want some period elegance.  His film realizes that the source material is strong enough and that he doesn’t need to fill it with needless details and bs to make it “grander”, he just needs to tell this story and tell it as good as his abilities allow.  And the man does it in spades.  This modern stroke on Cinderella feels that of a 60s era vibe and elegance with modern techniques, effects and budget.

The cast here is terrific as well.  In a nice switcheroo from expectation, Cate Blanchett plays the wicked step-mother and Helena Bonham Carter is the Fairy Godmother.  Carter isn’t in the film but the scene she’s needed, but boy does she ever chew the scenery and make her presence loom over the film.  And wow, its different to see her all dolled up.  Blanchett definitely owns this film and no matter how badly you know where this story ends up, its in her performance and character’s dastardly deeds that make you second guess what you’re 110% sure is going to happen, which is the sign of a terrific film.  The rest of the cast rounds out nicely (Nice to see Rob Stark have, what I assume, was a death free wedding).

Cinderella doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it just makes the best damn wheel out there.  This film is a great production on a familiar classic, making it feel fresh and new again.  By doing what its done, it can easily now be a “go to” in terms of picking a Cinderella film to watch.  Everything about this film just works.  The restraint to just stick to the story is terrific, the runtime even is favorable as the film features an outstanding pace to it as well.  There’s a lot of fun, excitement, emotion and heart in this take on Cinderella.  Its one of the better big budget blockbustery movies of the year and you should definitely check it out if you hadn’t (like me).

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Video 

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Clarity/Detail:  The question is, who DIDN’T think this was going to be a masterful video transfer?  Disney absolutely crushes it here with sharp and very detailed image.  No detail goes unseen in this picture.  From threads, to patterns, to wood grain, to the tiniest specs of dirt on a surface, everything is accounted for.  The pumpkin carriage is pretty wow’ing once it is revealed.  Its a bold and very impressive image, likely one of the best from a modern film this year.

Depth:  With a more cinematic look, it still features a nice free feeling between people, objects and their environments.  Movements are very cinematic in nature and no blur occurs.

Black Levels:  Blacks are rich and a nice contributing factor to the expertise of the image.  There is no crushing and no detail lost.

Color Reproduction:  Colors look absolutely gorgeous.  They are bold and striking enough without being extremely vivid.  The dresses worn are quite the highlight, especially Cinderella’s lovely blue dress.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural for the most part with one scene taking on a slightly golden look.  Skin detail is very high, as make up, wrinkles, stubble, pore and lip texture is quite visible at any distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Some slight, but very welcome grain.

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Audio 

Audio Format(s): English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English 2.0 Descriptive Audio, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  While this isn’t some movie that calls for tons of action or whatnot, they absolutely nail this 7.1 track.  Sound effects sound nice, clean and distinct.  Everything here sounds nicely uncompressed and loose.  There is a terrific balance of the effects, vocals and scoring in this 7.1 mix.

Low Frequency Extension:  Most of the low end sounds come in the form of a door closing or horses clip clopping, things like that.  It also has its place within the score.

Surround Sound Presentation:  All 7 channels are utilized quite well, whether it just be ambiance or spreading some of the environments sounds around the room.  Onscreen action and volume placement is accurately displayed here with grand precision.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Crisp, clean and wonderfully full sounding.

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Extras 

Cinderella comes with a DVD Copy and UltraViolet Digital Copy of the film.

A Fairy Tale Comes To Life (HD, 9:23) – Featuring interviews with the cast and the crew, they discuss the source materials and bringing a live action version to modern audiences.

Costume Test Fun (HD, 2:39) – The screen tests for the costumes in the film.

Staging The Ball (HD, 11:27) – Kenneth Branagh and company discuss crafting and executing the perfect ball scene.

Alternative Opening: Ella’s Childhood (HD, 3:02) – Kenneth Branagh introduces the alternate opening, experimenting with a longer introduction and background on young Ella.

Ella’s Furry Friends (HD, 3:43) – This featurette focuses on the animals in the film and their trainers and the actors interactions with them.

Frozen Fever (HD, 7:56) – The short film and further adventure in the Frozen world that screen before Cinderella theatrically.  This puppy is in 7.1 DTS-HD MA too!

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Summary 

Disney’s new live action rendition on Cinderella is a breath of fresh air after other recent live action fairy tale updates.  Its the product of just giving us the goods and focusing on just doing the source material very well and not overthinking it.  This Blu-ray gives the perfect performance in audio and video and has some decent extras.  For the movie and display alone, you should snatch this one up.


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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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