I don't mean to be snide, but I usually know if I'm going to like a movie or not. Years of practiced movie watching have led me to this place of superiority. Still, even the most profound film viewer often finds herself watching something that, by all reasoning, she knows she shouldn't be sitting through. Sometimes it's out of duty, sometimes it's nagging, persistent friends, and sometimes it's simply grotesque curiosity.
Cinderella III: A Twist in Time (2007)
Of course it's supposed to be shit, right? I mean, for one it's a sequel to a Disney Animated Feature. Two, it's a sequel to a sequel of a Disney Animated Feature. Three, it's a sequel to a 57 year old movie so all the original voice cast is either dead or dying. And four, it's about time travel. In the spring semester of my freshmen year of college, my friends and I just had to pull over and see the freakish roadside attraction Cinderella III was sure to be. But then I committed the cardinal sin and ended up liking it. Oops.
One year after the ball and the pumpkin and slipper, former scullery maid Cinderella (Jennifer Hale) and Prince Charming (Christopher Daniel Barnes...also the voice of Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid) are happily married and celebrating their one year anniversary. But not everyone is living happily ever after. Cinderella's stepmother, Lady Tremaine (Susan Blakeslee) and her stepsisters Anastasia (Tress MacNeille) and Drizella (Russi Taylor) hate having to do their own chores and still don't understand how Cinderella managed to pull off the impossible. Then, Anastasia discovers the Fairy Godmother's (also Russi Taylor) magic wand and gives it to her mother. Faster than you can say "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo", Lady Tremaine turns back time to the moment Anastasia tries on the slipper and makes it fit her, leaving everyone to believe the ugly, awkward redhead was the mystery girl from the ball. As with all of these fairy tales, Prince Charming and Anastasia are to be wed later that night, which leaves Cinderella a few hours to figure out what the hell is going on and save her prince from a most awful fate...and she must do it without the aid of her Fairy Godmother.
Yeah, it's still kind of shit. But entertaining shit, with twists and turns and chase scenes. Trust me, you won't get bored. Everyone in this film is far more active than in the previous two installments of Disney's Cinderella franchise. The titular heroine manages to find her way to the palace without a pumpkin carriage this time. And Prince Charming! He's actually charming and brave and has a whisper of a personality. He's still no Flynn Rider, but he does try to save Cinderella at one point. The pair seem to have an actual chemistry and he takes an interest in her when she's dressed in rags. Yay!
Cinderella III is not a good movie, but it is a good Disney Sequel (Perhaps even my favorite of the Disney Sequels...hmmm). It takes a story we can recite verbatim and fucks it up just enough to make us wonder if love will conquer all. Yes, it still has those irritating side characters and unnecessary slapstick, but what are you gonna do?
Cinderella III also brings layers into the story. Several times Prince Charming has a feeling that something's not quite right, that Anastasia is just not THE ONE, despite Lady Tremaine repeatedly putting him under a spell. The film deals with issues of destiny; it can only take you so far and then it's up to you to make happen. And Anastasia herself struggles with being her mother's pawn. She too is hot for Charming but does she want to spend the rest of her life living a lie?
Layers. I was pleasantly surprised by Cinderella III's layers. Especially since the first movie is a Love At First Sight snooze-a-rama. If you watch any direct-to-video Disney sequel this year, please, make it this one.
Also, all the trailers on Youtube have the audio blocked so here is a fan made music video to the end credits song "I Still Believe (in Destiny)":