Ella Enchanted

Cover Art and Menu: 5/10
Cover = yuck.  Menu = semi-interesting. In this day and age of cute and cuddly family flicks it’s only fair to say that the cover art and menus suffer from pure neglect. I understand that Anne is an up and coming young starlette and that her face is part of the hard sell of this DVD to her core audience, girls 12-16, but it’s boring. Maybe it’s boring to me, and woman past her prime and simply jealous of Hathaway’s youth and beauty…um nope. It’s actually boring. The menu isn’t too bad with it’s parchment background and decorative images. They get a B for theme, but a D for lack of originality.

Features: 6/10
For such a good little movie I was seriously disappointed with the lack of effort they put into the overall DVD package. These extras are quite boring along with the cover, and add nothing to the movie watching experience. Thumbs down on the extras.

  • Deleted & Extended scenes – Not much here except a few scenes with footage that did not make it to the final cut of the movie. None of these scenes add anything to the story. They are all just bits and pieces that were taken out for time reasons.
  • Commentary with Director Tommy O Haver, Anne Hathaway and Hugh Daney – I always love commentary and this is a good one to hear about all the on set adventures and just how much fun they had making the movie.
  • Set Top Game – Whatever….oh, sorry. This is just a crappy little “game” you play on your TV finding your way past Prince Char’s fan club members and avoiding the horrible fate of watching their scenes in the movie. I repeat…whatever.
  • Red Carpet Premiere Special – This is one of those TV specials meant to promote the movie to a hipper, younger crowd. I would say the target age being about 6-9 years old. It’s hosted by a couple of nobodies and has the production value of a cheap commercial. Sorry folks, this is not a quality extra for the grown ups in the crowd.
  • Music Video – I think the girl singing this song is the same nobody who hosts the Red Carpet Premiere Special. Yep, that’s her. Lame.

The Movie: 8/10:
Remember my old saying, “A movie is what it is.”? I can’t emphasize enough how I do understand that is is NOT a masterpiece of movie making. It’s not an award winning script and does not contain the most impressive performances. So why would I give a movie with so many flaws an 8 out of 10? Allow me to explain.

From the opening scene this movie reached deep inside my head and grabbed my long since buried sense of fun and love of fairy tales. I can’t deny it, I’m a sucker for grand tales like this. I’m not a girly girl if that’s what you’re thinking. I don’t like happy endings and I don’t think Prince Charming’s are, um, charming. I just love the fact that these stories have heart. Ella Enchanted is a story of a young woman who was given the “gift” of obedience at birth by a very spiteful fairy. The implications are quite interesting when you think about it. Imagine going through life and being forced by some mystical power to do EVERYTHING people tell you to do. Every “Shut up!”, every “Wait a minute.”, and every “Go jump off a bridge.” would run your life. What, no one ever told you to go jump off a bridge? I guess I bring out the best in people. Beyond the comical and sometimes tragic elements of the curse lies the real story is about making your own choices and not letting other people run your life. Who wouldn’t like a story about that?

Ella is smart and confident. Unfortunately, as fairy tales go, her evil step mother and two horrible step sisters swoop in to ruin her life. A pursuit of the local Prince Char ensues complete with a medieval fan club of screaming teenage girls. One evil step sister finds out about Ella’s curse and uses it against her, of course. What else would we expect? Well, I must say that I was rooting for Ella the whole time. It might be Hathaway’s resemblance to my dear niece, or the escape to a fantasy world, but this movie got me hook line and sinker. I cared about the characters. I cared about the outcome of the kingdom. I even cared about the fate of the blue tinted ogres. Go figure!

I know it’s crazy, but I got totally into the story and even with all it’s predictability, it was still stringing me along from moment to moment. It wasn’t the story so much as the endearing characters who fill in the gaps between old fashioned story books and modern day movie. With lots of pop culture references and twists on the traditional Grimm fairy tales it gives you a lot more to absorb than just the rather simple plot. No, it’s not deep nor does it have any hidden meanings. This is a straight forward, make no apologies, feel good flick with nothing to prove to anyone. It’s for having fun and offering up a lot of special effect eye candy, nothing more, nothing less. I mean, it’s got a musical number at the end people..what more could you ask from from a fluff movie?

With political issues to tackle like enslaving giants and discrimination against elves, Ella Enchanted doesn’t steer totally clear of all grown up themes. There is an element of social commentary, somewhere, hidden behind fairies, snakes, talking books, and amazingly colorful sets and costumes. You can dig out the meaningful stuff the second time you watch it though, for now just enjoy the ride of this new take on Cinderella. The glass slippers make an appearance, but only for a brief moment. This is not a retelling of that same old story, but rather an upgraded version for a more sophisticated audience, or so I tell myself.

What about those special effects? Well, there are times when I think they might have taken the cheap way out here and there. The Giantsville could well have been in a 1979 Disney movie with the not-so-good pasting of smaller folks into scenes with the giants. Other than that it’s got acceptably convincing images of amazing things flying at you on a regular basis. Enough to keep your eyes distracted so your brain doesn’t criticize too much. The Ogre’s costumes looked more like what you would find in a play, kind of too big and too styrofoamed up. Someday all movies will have flawless special effects, until then, we can live with the occasional laps in judgment.

Value: 5/10
Not a very well loaded DVD so the value is not in my appreciation zone. I think a DVD like this should be about 12 bucks to start with and by Christmas be in the $5 bin at Wal Mart…but that’s just me living in a fairy tale ain’t it. Rent this little beauty of a movie and have some fun with it without making too much of an investment. Spend the difference on the original novel by Gail Carson Levine and read the whole darn story. Overall the movie was excellent, looked great and is one of my favorite of this type. The overall DVD experience was really a let down though, kind of cheap and thrown together. I can’t say it’s worth a purchase. Maybe someday they will do a special edition with tons of extras that will make me weep with happiness. 🙂

Overall Score 7/10