Despite a stellar cast and significant hype, Cinderella’s reviews have so far been predominantly negative. Although the new movie – which is available on Amazon Prime – has really resonated with audiences, currently holding an 87% positive audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, critics have not been so enamored. By contrast, the film holds an unenviable 39% rotten rating on the popular review aggregator site, suggesting that – despite occasional high notes – the movie as a whole ultimately falls flat.
The new Cinderella adaptation follows in the footsteps of numerous versions of the popular fairytale. Among the most celebrated is the classic animated Disney movie from 1950, as well as the more recent Kenneth Branagh-directed Cinderella from 2015. In this version, the starring role of Cinderella is played by singer-songwriter Camilla Cabello, alongside a strong supporting cast including the likes of Idina Menzel, Billy Porter, Minni Driver, former James Bond star Pierce Brosnan, and James Corden. The entire project was actually spearheaded by Corden, who approached studio Fulwell 73 with the idea of an updated adaptation.
Although the movie boasts serious talent both in front of and behind the camera, the reception has been extremely lukewarm. Although the new songs and musical elements of the movie have generally been praised, many critics have taken issue with some heavy-handed dialogue and surprisingly mediocre acting. One particular criticism has been the over-reliance on archetypal, poorly realized characters. As the most successful cinematic musicals invariably prove, it takes more than good songs to make a great movie. Here’s what some of the critics have been saying about Cinderella:
“Tropes and archetypes are the engine of this film, thinly sketched characters whose development seems to have been jettisoned for endless belting”
“Likely to be more warmly received by the family markets, especially those with young girls, Cinderella is an innocuous diversion that feels like it should be so much more.”
“The movie mostly feels like Disney Channel fare with a pinch of Moulin Rouge, a colorful distraction lacking enough magic to fulfill dreams or wishes.”
“Cinderella’s music is enjoyable, but it’s hollow, the performances flat, and the dialogue often cringe-worthy.”
However, while most critics agree that the writing and characterization are two major flaws with the movie, many recognize that the musical elements often more than live up to their billing. In fact, almost across the board, the one area of strength in the end result is the songs, both original and recycled. In addition, some critics have highlighted the film’s positive, albeit maladroit feminist message. Here are a few of the more enthusiastic responses:
“It’s just too bad there’s a pandemic going on, because this latest reboot of a beloved fairy tale is perfect for a sing-along.”
“[T]he message of female empowerment, even when it feels like it was designed by committee, transforms what could have been just froth into something a little more solid.”
It’s clear from the overall reception that the new Cinderella movie has some major flaws. However, despite the general negativity around the release, the film does have some redeeming qualities that make it work watching. If nothing else, its impressive audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes highlights its plus points. It might not be a critics’ favorite, but that doesn’t make it irredeemable.