Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Branagh's "Cinderella" Wows CinemaCon (& Blanchett Channels Evil Stepmother Perfectly, Complete With Cat On a Leash!)

Maleficent is going to have to battle for headlines shortly as Disney's live action I has already caught hearts and minds with her grand entrance today, Wednesday, aka preview at CinemaCon. (I'm sure Disney, owning both, doesn't mind too much at all.)

There are no, that's right, NO new images. (Boo. :( ) Yet. But with a teaser/preview like this we should be seeing something by Fall or Christmas at the latest to whet out appetites even more.

In the meantime, enjoy the live action reference photos from the animated movie I've scattered throughout the post.

Here's the (much edited) scoop from an iO9 writer and CinemaCon attendee who is clearly newly besotted with what she just saw (warning: some of this may be considered spoilerish. Read at your own discretion):
I have left HUGE chunks out for you to go and mine on your own. :)
Disney's live action Cinderella movie is so wonderfully beholden to the animated source material, it will make your heart swell. And we've seen a large chunk of it, including the Evil Stepmother, Cate Blanchett — who makes her grand entrance with A CAT ON A LEASH. 
...The footage opened as all good fairy tales should, a woman's voice says "Once Upon A Time there was a Child named Ella." 
... Fast forward... Evil Stepmother Cate Blanchett enters, wearing a stunning dress black with gold embroidered details, a black veil wrapped tightly across her face, and topped off with a massive, black victorian hat. But more importantly, she is escorting in her pet cat who is being led in on a leash. SHE HAS A CAT ON A LEASH!!!!!! THE EVIL STEP MOTHER HAS A CAT ON A LEASH. A CAT. ON. A. LEASH. It is, amazing. We can only assume that this charcoal tabby, who totally flicks his paw like he's rubbing his litter in Cinderella's face, is named Lucifer (like in the the animated movie). How I even managed to watch a thing after the "cat on a leash" reveal, I will never know — but I'm still freaking out about it. And the footage only got better. 
...Someone announces there's going to be a Royal Ball! ... They are all ready and Cinderella descends the stairs in a dress they didn't see coming, "It was my Mother's dress!" And, of course, the Evil Stepmother rips it to pieces. A PAIR OF CG MICE WITH VESTS LOOK ON FROM THE STAIRS. The mice have clothing, and it works, because this movie is literally a complete literal translation of the animated classic with additional Robb Stark scenes. How could there not be mice! 
...Cinderella will NOT go to the ball. She's crying on the balcony watching her dreams die when suddenly a haggard old woman appears in their house. Which is weird because that would mean that she broke into their house and that is illegal. But wait it's actually Helena Bonham Carter in old lady face and she says, "I'm your Fairy Godmother of course." And then bippity bop pity boo, she turns into a gorgeous, blonde Helena Bonham Carter (note she never actually utters that classic turn of phrase, but we assume it's coming). She looks stunning and almost exactly like Glina from Oz but without the down and gigantic sleeves. 
Full disclosure: I was not on board with HBC being cast as the fairy godmother, but I was wrong. She is sensational. She has this little angelic charm and together they root through the green house looking for a sizable vegetable that she can transform into a carriage...  
... We all know where this is going — nothing I've reported on here is new for Cinderella, but that's the point! The absolute dedication to the source material hits right in the Disney sweet spot... Sure there are plenty of new scenes that were hinted at... Plus it's gorgeous and some how they may just make mice with vests work. 
Fingers crossed for this one: It looks really, really good.
Read the whole, entertaining and highly enthusiastic report HERE. (I recommend it - it's not like you don't know the story, right? And you know Branagh/Disney is saving the real live-action departure-goodness for the full show.)
Some additional notes from CinemaBlend who also attended CinemaCon:
While we were told before the footage that some of the special effects had yet to be completed and that the movie is still very much a work in process, I was definitely impressed by what I saw. There is an interesting mix of tones at work, as heavy drama is lightened by some funny dialogue and rapport, and the film looks gorgeously shot. Of course, this is the footage that Disney wanted us to see in order to get us excited for the film, but my interest is definitely piqued. 
Wondering what the release date is, with such a large teaser already shown? March 15, 2015. 

Most of the visual effects are still in the works and clearly they have plans for a lot more in post as well so we shall see. 

Though live action fairy tales have had a recent resurgence in Europe in the last few years in particular (and there are some beautiful looking films out there if you search!) it looks like the revival of the live-action fairy tale, which, honestly, has stumbled a little in the US to date, is well underway now in the House of Mouse as well.
PS Wondering if Into the Woods has made an appearance at CinemaCon yet? It did, but not in the form of footage. Just headshots for now, so Into The Woods news is just a footnote compared to the rest of the 'fairy tale news'. :)

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