Ella Enchanted

Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Aidan McArdle, Lucy Punch
Director: Tommy O’Haver

Ever hear the one about the girl from Frell who had a fairy for an aunt who gave her the gift of obedience? It sounds simple but imagine for a moment the many perils of having to obey each and every command that is given to you. Ella (Anne Hathaway) is the young woman burdened with this spell of obedience weaved upon her by her aunt (Vivica Fox). As Ella comes of age her mother dies but not before she makes Ella swear to not tell a soul about her gift. Ella’s father (Patrick Bergin) marries a rich woman (Joanna Lumley) as he needs the money to keep their house. His new wife arrives with her two new daughters who soon begin to notice something strange about the way Ella quickly responds to their commands. They soon realize that Ella cannot refuse a direct command and so they promptly begin to use her to do all sorts of silly things. As Ella and her friends are protesting at a rally where the pin-up male idol of the kingdom Prince Char (Hugh Dancy) is opening a new shopping mall with the kingdom’s ruler his evil Uncle Edgar (Cary Elwes) her stepsisters command her to leave at once. Just then a flurry of girls rush the stage and as the prince runs away he bumps into Ella. Ella initially has nothing but disdain for the prince but she soon realizes that he is nothing like his uncle. She now decides that she must seek out her fairy aunt and beg her to take back her gift.

As Ella embarks on her journey she saves an elf (Aidan McArdle), who has dreams of becoming a lawyer and he becomes her companion on the journey that takes them through giant, troll and elf territory. Along the way Ella and her elf are saved from becoming a troll’s dinner by Prince Char who also joins them for the remainder of the journey. As Ella arrives at Sir Edgar’s castle her jealous stepsister decides to let Sir Edgar know about Ella’s secret. Sir Edgar and his dastardly snake (voiced by Steve Coogan) command Ella to stab prince Char at the ball at the stroke of midnight. When Ella finally finds her aunt she is reminded by what her mother told her about being strong, and she must now face her greatest challenge if she is going to save her true love and as they say in all great fairy tales – live happily ever after!

Anne Hathaway is a delight in this hip slice of the modern fairy tale for the SHREK generation. She expertly handles all aspects of her character from the sadness of being forced to do what she does not want to like banishing her best friend, to belting out show stopping tunes in two very memorable singing scenes and then finally discovering true love and her own self confidence.

With a host of great supporting performances and cameos from the likes of Heidi Klum as a giant who falls for an elf, this quirky fairy tale proves to be a very entertaining ride that you will wish could go on and on.

Add to this the excellent directing from Tommy O’Haver as he skilfully makes it entertaining for all the family and even though the film has a very magical look to it he successfully manages to keep the use of CGI to a minimum.

ELLA ENCHANTED will prove to be a great escapism trip to the cinema for the family and for everyone else too!

4 out of 6 stars

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