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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Cinderella III - A Twist in Time
Cinderella III - A Twist in Time
Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment // G // February 6, 2007
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by David Cornelius | posted February 5, 2007 | E-mail the Author
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Disney's latest entry in their direct-to-video sequel series is "Cinderella III: A Twist in Time," a story that more or less ignores everything that happened in "Cinderella II: Dreams Come True." (Heck, we've all ignored everything that happened in "Cinderella II.") The gimmick here is that the wicked stepmother gets a hold of the fairy godmother's magic wand, turns back time, and casts a spell making the prince fall in love with the grimy Anastasia instead of sweet Cinderelly.

(If you remember - and I wouldn't blame you if you didn't - Anastasia already found true love in the previous DTV sequel. But who cares about continuity in Disney cash grab projects?)

The result is a movie that brings a bit of meta-quirkiness to the classic fairy tale, with Disney's version of the story folding over on itself, at least for a little while. It's an interesting move - after all, kids (and grown-ups) enjoy watching their favorite stories get twisted around, and the filmmakers have the courtesy to treat the audience with a bit of respect, understanding that viewers already know the Cinderella story, allowing them to jump right in with the references and the retooling of key plot points.

To its credit, "Cinderella III" is much better than its predecessor, although such a feat is not too difficult, as "Cinderella II" is perhaps the worst to date of all Disney sequels. But still, hats off to Disney for making the right improvements: the script is more solid, the songs are better, and the animation is, for the most part, up to par with Disney's second-tier DTV work.

The lone stumble in the artwork is the decision to keep the classic characters in their original 1950 designs - I wouldn't call it "limited" animation per se, but it's far flatter than the more complex 2D animation done today. Seeing these simpler, flatter designs playing out against more detailed backgrounds and secondary characters that show a greater use of shadow and depth is off-putting, making the film look cheaper than it is. (Oddly, the mice characters, Jacques and Gus, get upgraded designs, while the humans do not.)

The story itself has its own stumbles, mainly in keeping the gimmick running for a full 74 minutes. The screenplay wraps up convincingly enough before the hour mark, with the evil spell being broken and other such happiness, yet the evil stepmother is called back into action for more villainy (this time disguising Anastasia as Cinderella), just to keep the whole thing rolling to reach feature length (and to provide the movie with a clunky-but-apparently-necessary big wedding finale). It's two spells when only one is needed.

We also get a curious amount of action for a movie based on one of Disney's sweetest, most action-free efforts. There's a lengthy carriage chase late in the film that feels all too out of place, an attempt by the studio to turn the title character into an action hero, hoping to appeal to modern girls' sensibilities. I suppose it worked well enough, as my daughter, age six, ate the whole thing up like crazy, but it still felt wrong in relation to the overall picture.

I guess it doesn't matter, as, like I said, my daughter loved the thing, and your kids probably will, too. And as a Disney DTV sequel, it's not nearly as bad as it could have been. Still, there are far too many satisfying children's movies out there for your kids to be bothering with this quickie project bound to be forgotten in a few years, at least until "Cinderella IV" comes out and some smart-aleck critic cracks wise about how nobody remembers "Cinderella III."

The DVD

Video & Audio


A vast improvement over "Cinderella II," "Cinderella III" reveals lush animation with colors that pop, even in the disappointing lead character work. It's a vibrant work designed to look good on home theater set-ups. The anamorphic transfer maintains the film's "family-friendly widescreen" format (1.78:1).

The soundtrack goes for full 5.1 in your choice of Dolby or DTS. Both sound terrific, with proper use of all channels and a solid balance between music, dialogue, and effects. French and Spanish tracks are also provided, as are optional English captions.

Extras

The film's theme song, "I Still Believe," gets the music video treatment with a performance by Hayden Panettiere. Considering Disney's penchant for using and reusing their own in-house line-up, I'm somewhat surprised to find somebody who isn't Raven-Symone or Ashley Tisdale here.

"Backstage Disney" and "The Making of Twice Charmed" are essentially two overlong commercials for the Disney brand, the first pitching the upcoming "Enchanted Tales" line of Disney Princess adventures, the second shilling quite shamelessly for the Disney Cruise Line. ("Twice Charmed" is a live show exclusive to the cruise.) Both are obnoxious bits of ads-in-disguise, the latter being doubly offensive for trying to convince kids that their lives will not be complete if their parents don't spend thousands of dollars on a family vacation.

"Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Choose" is an interactive game that young kids may enjoy; solve puzzles to get clues on the whereabouts of a magic mirror.

DVD-Rom content includes a "Ballroom Scene Designer," which lets you plan a fantasy ball, and a "Printable Party," where you can print Cinderella-themed invitations, menus, etc. Again, cute for kids.

Also included is the usual round-up of Disney previews, some of which immediately play as the disc loads as part of Disney's "FastPlay" program.

Final Thoughts

Your kids will really enjoy "Cinderella III" for about a week, and then they'll forget all about it. Rent It.
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