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:: Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted is based on a Gail Carson Levine’s best-selling book, yet this film, while pleasantly entertaining, certainly isn’t groundbreaking. It is a fairytale romance very much in the genre of Ever After, Princess Diaries (1 and 2) and the Prince and Me.

Typecast Princess Anne Hathaway, plays Ella of Frell, a modernised Cinderella. She lives in a fantastical realm of magical creatures and spells, akin to Harry Potter’s wizarding world or Shrek’s enchanted forest. Ella is a feisty, modern girl who doesn’t want to be a princess but is destined for greatness. Sound anything like the Princess Diaries?

As a baby, Ella is given the gift of perfect obedience by a fairy named Lucinda. When given an instruction, any instruction, she must obey, no matter how ridiculous or terrible the task. Joanna Lumley oozes disdain as the awful stepmother Dame Olga, who brings with her two horrible daughters. They quickly realise there’s something odd about Ella and take great pleasure in making her their slave.

In spite of the spell, Ella is a strong freethinker who is willing to fight against the injustices in her life and her world. Desperate to be free, Ella embarks on a quest to find Lucinda and beg her to break the spell. Along the way she meets Prince Charmont, a spoiled rich boy who knows more about being on the cover of medieval teen, than he does about being a king. So, when things take a turn for the worst, Ella must summon her courage and the magic within herself, to break the spell and save her prince.

Narrator Eric Idle (made legendary by Monty Python) keeps the story moving at a good pace and a feel-good contemporary soundtrack adds to the fun. Cary Elwes also adds his stamp of credibility to this film, as the Prince’s nasty Uncle Edgar. Despite a long and successful career, Elwes is still celebrated for his starring role in the 1987 fairytale classic, The Princess Bride.

For the look of the film, director Tommy O’Haver has relied heavily on computer animation to provide the bright colours and magical backdrop. The result is pretty in the extreme and readily eye-catching for a young audience.

Sadly, Ella Enchanted has not the excitement of The Princess Bride, the beauty of Ever After, nor the irreverent humour of Shrek. But, it does contain a worthy message for teenage girls and is certainly sweet enough to win them over these holidays.