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Ella Enchanted (PG)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: N/A

THE spirit of Shrek runs rife throughout Ella Enchanted, a better-than-average take on the Cinderella story.

Anne Hathaway (of The Princess Diaries fame) stars as Ella, a teen princess in waiting who is forced to endure a spell of complete obedience bestowed upon her by an over-enthusiastic fairy (Vivica Fox) while she is still a baby.

The spell means she is compelled to do anything she is commanded - a device used to mischievous effect when her father (Patrick Bergin) re-marries the dastardly Dame Olga (Joanna Lumley) and Ella is forced to befriend her two spiteful daughters, Hattie (Lucy Punch) and Olive (Jennifer Higham).

Determined to break the spell, however, Ella sets off to find the fairy responsible and sets off on a journey frought with peril in order to do so, befriending a cheek elf (Aidan McArdle) along the way, as well as the idolized Prince Char (Hugh Dancy), heir to the kingdom currently ruled over by the scheming Sir Edgar (Cary Elwes).

Needless to say, the ensuing adventure finds Ella falling in love with the prince, while also exposing the evil and corruption that is rife throughout the kingdom.

Ella Enchanted is designed as a 21st Century take on the fairytale genre and comes packed with magic and music, ogres and elves, giants and wicked stepsisters, as well as some contemporary humour to boot.

Yet as enjoyable as it is for young children, the film cannot escape comparisons with better films in the genre - most notably Shrek, which follows a similar, smarter path thanks to its ability to cater for both the adults and kids alike.

Ella, while sweet and good-natured, seems to be trying too hard to make everything perfect, especially when tackling issues such as racism and persecution, which don't really sit well with the general tone of the film.

Hathaway does, however, provide an endearing guide, proving much more likeable than she did in The Princess Diaries 2, and several of her companions (most notably McArdle and Minnie Driver's fairy) add some nice touches of humour whenever they are around.

Director, Tommy O’Haver, also keeps things lively, packing his film with some nice visual moments, which do much to keep the kids enthralled - for anyone who relished the childhood charm of first watching The Wizard of Oz or The Princess Bride there is much to admire.

Yet for all of its enthusiasm, Ella Enchanted falls short of achieving the feel-good factor of many of the films it is trying to imitate and is neither as enchanting, nor as memorable, as it would probably wish to be.

 

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