Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Movie Review: Ella Enchanted

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny and endearing
Cons: Special effects
The Bottom Line:
The effects are weak
But the characters charm you
And story is fun

Let Ella Enchant You

I missed Ella Enchanted when it hit the theaters and only now caught up with it. That's a real shame, because this is a treat.

Ella of Frell (Anne Hathaway) is an unusual child. As a baby, a bumbling fairy godmother named Lucinda (Vivica A. Fox) gave her the gift of obedience. Every time anyone gives her a direct command, she must obey.

Despite, or maybe because of, this "gift," Ella grows to be a headstrong woman. She goes against the conventional wisdom of the realm when it comes to ogres, giants, and elves. Current rules state that these creatures are dangerous and must perform certain jobs only. But Ella campaigns for their equality.

She is also one of the few women in the realm who doesn't swoon at the site of crown Prince Char (Hugh Dancy). When the two meet accidentally, Char finds this distain quite refreshing and immediately begins to fall for the headstrong young woman.

Trouble is brewing at home, however. Ella's stepsister Hattie (Lucy Punch) has figured out Ella's secret. Now, Ella finds herself doing things she would never willing do. So she leaves home and sets out to find Lucinda to give the gift back.

The movie is funny from start to finish, and I had a grin on my face the entire time. Ella's world looks like a medieval/fairy tale world, but it includes lots of modern touches, like malls for example. These modern references made me laugh. Additionally, I often found myself giggling or laughing out loud at the things poor obedient Ella had to do.

The humor is a good thing, because the story is a bit predictable. Given the fact that it is a fairy tale (in fact, the narrator tells us that right off the bat), the audience knows how things will end. Still, there were a few twists I didn't see coming, and I was actually wondering how they'd pull everything together when it came time for the climax. And, while the movie isn't a musical, there are a couple of musical numbers. I was a little surprised by this, but they fit in with the story and are actually quite funny.

When I realized that equality would be a theme, I was afraid I was in for a preachy movie. Fortunately, my fears weren't founded. The movie makes it point, but as part of the story. It helps that this is but one theme. The other theme is the power of one individual. The two actually compliment each other well and make this an uplifting movie.

The cast does an amazing job bring their characters to life. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy are wonderful as the leads. They have great chemistry and play well off each other. Minnie Driver plays another fairy, and her scenes are very funny. Cary Elwes also appears as Char's uncle. To be honest, I didn't recognize him, but I loved his character as well.

Unfortunately, the movie does have one flaw. The special effects just aren't up to today's standards. While the computer animated talking snake is excellent (I kept watching to make sure it was fake), many of the other special effects fall flat. This is especially true of any scenes involving giants. It was mildly distracting a couple times, but it didn't dampen my enjoyment of the movie one bit.

Despite the one flaw, this is a great movie. Don't make the same mistake I did. See Ella Enchanted today.

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