So fifty years after the release of the classic film that still has high marketability even today some high executive at Disney decided that it needed a direct to DVD sequel that would help define the early 2000s as a Dork Age for the company. So for this Disney fan that rather liked the original Cinderella both for its look and story my response to this thing is a resounding…meh.
This movie certainly isn’t good, but it’s not a complete abomination either. The theme of being yourself isn’t a bad one and is explored well enough using three separate stories and characters. The timeline is good, picking up right after the original film and showing the Cinderella and her friends dealing with living in the palace. Although showing Cinderella having friends in the village totally wrecks my isolated from abuse idea for the original film so thanks for that movie.
In my Cinderella review I said that the sequels didn’t show Cinderella with a position of responsibility and I now take that back. No she’s not in an authority role as a queen, but she does have a lot of things to do as a princess like arranging for the ball and the festival. I really like the compromise she comes to with her duties too. Not just in the first story where she runs the ball well while still changing things, but also in the following story with Jacque where she is wearing a simple blue dress while still performing her royal duties. She shows grace and refinement during her meeting while drinking tea. And when she goes to the fairgrounds she shows independence by riding there herself, but still having femininity by riding side saddle. It’s really a nice balance. The only bad thing I find with Cinderella is the voice. Irene Woods gave a nice mature quality to Cinderella when she voiced her. Here Cinderella seems to come off likes she’s sixteen in some scenes.
I also like some of the new characters we see here. The baker is nice and I really love Prudence. It’s probably my enjoyment of Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter that has drawn me to the stiff formal older lady with her hair in bun character, but Prudence is really great. Also her romantic dance with the Duke at the end of the story is cute. The only downsides character wise are the mice whose voices I just find so grating, and the Prince is still a cardboard stand in for an actual character. He is as bland as the bone coloured napkins. The king I don’t really have an opinion on, I’m saving that for the third film.
On the more negative side of things as well the music is awful. Not that the singer is awful it’s that loud pumped up pop songs don’t fit in the film. They start out of nowhere and are not even remotely memorable. Furthermore the animation is totally made for TV. Sure some of the backgrounds, like those in the village, are nice and have good detail, but the character animation is limited, and the colour palette is basic. Although I did like the opening where the Disney castle logo dissolves into the Cinderella castle with the theme of’ A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes’ playing over it that was good. Still the loss of really nice subtle animation is a shame to me; especially for Lucifer. They just can’t capture that wild yet contained way of doing him that Kimball had. That’s not to say that the animators are bad it’s the budget that really brings this project, and all the other Disney sequels like it, down. To do really good animation requires more time and work and that of course requires more money than this project had. So I won’t blame the creative team for this, though I do blame them for aiming this movie at kids with the whole mice and the book thing being the way to tie the three stories together.
Story wise the only part that really bothers me here, besides the bend towards a younger audience, is the last section with Anastasia. Now redeeming a villain through the power of love is fine, if clichéd, I just don’t think it was developed enough. I mean why is it now that Anastasia wants to change for love? Why is Cinderella so willing to help her step-sister? Yes she’s a nice person but watching the scene where Anastasia and Drusilla rip apart her dress in the original film and then going to this storyline is just shocking. You can’t really make a message about being yourself for love when the only real picture we have of Anastasia is that her true self is a horrible person! There needed to be more build up towards this storyline in my opinion.
In closing this movie works perfectly fine as a TV show. It’s geared towards a younger age group and the three story structure works best on television along with the animation and the use of music. In fact had it been a TV series like the Aladdin one was it probably would have held up a lot better for me. It would have allowed storylines like Anastasia’s to develop more naturally, and I wouldn’t hate the animation quite so much. As a film it certainly isn’t needed as sequels go, but it’s not really that horrible otherwise. I don’t recommend it, but I don’t think there’s anything bad in it for kids and I think they’re the ones who will get the most enjoyment from it.