Danielle vs Ella
Okay, Drew Barrymore's accent is all over the place. And Lily James is undeniably lovely. But COME ON. Danielle blows Ella out of the water in the personality department. "Have courage and be kind"? That's nice and all, but Ella basically would have been satisfied to sit in her attic singing forever while slowly starving to death. Danielle speaks up! She gets things done and she PUNCHES HER STEPSISTER IN THE FACE. Having a Cinderella (made in 2015! Come on!) take so much abuse and just wait around for someone to rescue her is ridiculous.
I actually enjoyed the stepsisters from the new Cinderella. They were funny (wonderfully acted by Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger) and totally over the top. But what I really like about Ever After is that one of the stepsisters (played by the always amazing Melanie Lynskey) is really sweet. She is pushed aside by her mother for her more beautiful and shrewish sister (Megan Dodds) and really feels for Danielle, becoming a valuable friend and ally to her. Sisters helping sisters, I love it!
Baroness Rodmilla de Ghent vs Lady Tremaine
Anjelica Huston versus Cate Blanchett. How can I choose? Okay, Lady Tremaine definitely gets the fashion points (although I do love the Baroness's ball outfit). Truth be told, Cinderella's costumes were the primary reason I went to see this film at all. They both act the hell out of their roles, and I cannot choose. We'll call this one a draw. I have to give a Sick Burn Point to Huston for her delivery of this line: when Danielle asks if she ever loved her, she responds "How can anyone love a pebble in their shoe?" OUCH.
The "Fairy Godmothers"
Ella's fairy godmother doesn't show up during any other hard time in her life. She just shows up to let her go to a dance. Danielle's "fairy godmother" is Leonardo Da Vinci, and they have a friendship throughout the film. Yes, he helps her get out of a tough spot, but she ultimately does her own rescuing. The winner here is obvious.
Princes are princes. They're generally boring, and they're boring in both of these films. However, Ever After's prince at least gets in several meetings with her before they run off and get hitched. She throws an apple at him, he's annoyed. She shows up at court, they share words, he's intrigued. He meets her again while she's swimming like a lovely water nymph. And then they have a wonderful all-nighter where they fight and then befriend gypsies, and talk about books and life goals and then kiss and fall in love. Ella has one conversation with her prince in the forest, and then he pretty much has his mind made up that SHE'S THE ONE. And of course she feels the same way because she's totally sheltered. Sigh.
Cinderella's costumes are pretty breathtaking. While I was originally a little underwhelmed by Ella's blue dress, it's definitely grown on me. However, lovely as it is, it's your fairly standard ball gown. Danielle's dress has wings! WINGS! And let's talk about the shoes for a second. I'm sorry, but no human foot could comfortably fit in Ella's shoe. That thing looks like fetish wear.
The bottom line:
I'm not trying to dismiss all fairytales or all love stories. I can somewhat accept a passive heroine back in the 1950s. But in 2015, with renewed interest in building up our girls to be more than just pretty faces, I'm looking for my princesses to pack a little punch. Ever After shows that a girl can suffer through abuse and survive, go to the ball, and get her prince, and still be strong and outspoken and do her own rescuing. Ella, you're nice and pretty but you've got a LOT of growing up to do.