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Jupiter looks down on the wedding audience in Jupiter Ascending.

Jupiter looks down on the wedding audience in Jupiter Ascending.

On Thursday, after spending a good part of the day figuring out my taxes and realizing I owed way more than my accountant had led me to believe, I was looking forward to a little escapism via an early screening of Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella. A fan of Branagh’s early work, I was surprised to find a rather standard Cinderella tale unfolding before my eyes.

The Cinderella poster art depicts the heroine fleeing the palace.

The Cinderella poster art depicts the heroine fleeing the palace.

I have written about Cinderella before and it is certainly not my favorite fairy tale, but still, I was disappointed. While there are a number of versions of this persecuted heroine, this one is based on the 1950 Disney animated film, itself based on the Perrault tale of Cendrillon, which gave us both the fairy godmother and the glass slipper. I apparently don’t remember the earlier film very well, since a few things I thought were new in this one weren’t new at all. Sigh. It was even less inventive than I thought, and I didn’t think it was very inventive. Really, I expect better in 2015.

That said, it did have very, very pretty costumes. At least I’ve probably gotten a head start on next year’s Oscar blitz with this one. Cate Blanchett’s outfits in particular looked gorgeous throughout.

The wicked stepmother makes an entrance at the ball.

The wicked stepmother makes an entrance at the ball.

The wicked stepmother plots with the Grand Duke.

The wicked stepmother plots with the Grand Duke.

If you must see one Cinderella this year, make it the original space opera Jupiter Ascending instead. While the Perrault tale claims the persecuted heroine spot (510A) on the Aarne–Thompson tale type index, given the unusual family relationships, I’d place Jupiter Ascending on the opposite end of the Cinderella spectrum, unnatural love (510B). However, while the film shares many aspects of the Cinderella tale, it also has a whole lot of other stuff in there as well. Some might say too much, but I have to admit to being baffled by the poor reception this film has gotten. Is it perfect? No. Is it rather silly in spots? Yes. But it’s no worse than most superhero or science fiction films. For one, I actually understood the plot, which is more than I can say for Guardians of the Galaxy. Have people forgotten how ridiculous the Lee Pace scenes were in that film? Or how misogynist it was? Here, multiple women, both white and black, have actual parts: They talk! They do their jobs! And their gender/race is completely immaterial. It’s about damn time.

If you care about supporting movies with diverse casts and feminist messages, you should ignore what you’ve heard and see this in the theater.

Plus, it’s very, very pretty.

Jupiter and Kalique discuss passing the Bechdel test.

Jupiter and Kalique discuss passing the Bechdel test.

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