Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Ella Enchanted

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
7 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Buy this DVD at Amazon.com

Rating: PG

Starring:
Anne Hathaway as Ella
Hugh Dancy as Prince Charmont
Cary Elwes as Prince Regent Edgar
Minnie Driver as Mandy
Vivica A. Fox as Fairy Lucinda
Joanna Lumley as Dame Olga
Patrick Bergin as Sir Peter
Jimi Mistry as Benny the Book
Eric Idle as Narrator
Parminder K. Nagra as Areida
Lucy Punch as Hattie
Jennifer Higham as Olive
Steve Coogan as Heston
Aidan McArdle as Slannen
Rory Keenan as Otto

Special Features:
Music Video "It's Not Just Make-Believe" Performed by Kari Kimmel

Deleted and Extended Scenes

Feature Commentary with Director Tommy O'Haver, Anne Hathaway, and Hugh Dancy

"Prince Charmont's Fan Club" Set-Top Game

"Ella Enchanted Red Carpet Premiere Special"

"The Magical World of Ella Enchanted"

"Happily Ever After" DVD-ROM Feature

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
French Language Track
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 96 Minutes

Synopsis:
Ella Enchanted is based on the book by Gail Carson Levine.

When young Ella is born in a fairytale land, her misguided fairy godmother Lucinda puts a spell on her. Ella is magically forced to obey any order given to her no matter what it is. While it makes Ella a well-behaved child, it also makes her unable to stand up for herself when given an order by friend or foe.

When Ella grows up, her father brings a new stepmother and two stepsisters into her house. They make her life exceptionally miserable when they discover the secret of Ella's obedience spell. To make matters worse, Ella meets and falls for Prince Charmont. He's set to take over the throne from his uncle Prince Regent Edgar. But how can she ever have a relationship with him if she can't be free to make her own decisions.

Determined to have the spell removed, Ella goes on a quest to find Lucinda. Along the way she gains help from an elf, an enchanted book, some ogres, and some giants. But what will happen when her evil stepsisters and Prince Edgar try to foil her mission?

Ella Enchanted is rated PG for some crude humor and language.

The Movie:
If you're a fan of The Princess Bride, A Knight's Tale, or Shrek 2, then you'll probably enjoy Ella Enchanted. While the film is nowhere near as good as Shrek 2 or Princess Bride, they are very much in the same spirit of each other. You have a fairytale romance in a fanciful kingdom full of quirky and amusing characters. You also have them making fun of fairytales in a modern context. You also have modern dance numbers set to established rock tunes. Throw all this together and you have a lighthearted film that is fairly entertaining.

This film is aimed squarely at young girls and I believe they are the ones that are going to get the most entertainment out of it. While male audiences will find things here and there that are appealing, girls are going to most enjoy the unicorns, the romance, the fairy magic, and the conflict between Ella and her stepsisters. After all, they were the ones that the original novel was targeted for.

Anne Hathaway stars as Ella. She's one of Disney's new darlings and she follows her Princess Diaries role with this film. Like Mia in the other movie, Ella has an appropriate mixture of geekiness and cuteness to make her accessible to girls and attractive to guys. This, of course, makes her a good leading actress. Hathaway again demonstrates that she can handle comedy, romance, drama, and singing. She even gets to take part in a few fight scenes in the movie. The gimmick of her character having to obey every command is amusing and makes for some entertaining moments in the film. While it's never used to its complete comic potential, it is a fun twist that audiences will enjoy.

The rest of the cast isn't spectacular. Hugh Dancy is an adequate pretty boy as Prince Charmont, but he never quite stands out. Cary Elwes again picks another fantasy role as Prince Regent Edgar. (Yes, he was in The Princess Bride, too.) Minnie Driver is almost completely useless as Mandy, a fairy that lives in Ella's house. Her role seems to serve little to no purpose to the story. Vivica A. Fox is also annoying as Fairy Lucinda. Every time she appears on the screen she has a bad attitude and causes nothing but problems. She's almost a villain in the film. Eric Idle has a cameo as the narrator, but his talents are more or less wasted in the film. The same goes for the cameo by Parminder K. Nagra (Bend It Like Beckham) as Areida. She's hardly in the movie at all, and when she is she's second banana to Hathaway. Heidi Klum also makes an appearance as a giantess.

The effects in the film are a mixed bag. Some scenes featuring a camera sweeping across the fairytale kingdom are impressive. A small effect featuring a face floating like a hologram inside a book cover is also well executed. A cartoon-looking snake is also well animated. However, a lot of the blue screen work looks terrible. The ogre makeup is also atrocious. It looks half completed since the backs of their heads are blue and the fronts look flesh colored.

The film also features remakes of some classic rock tunes. One of the most notable is Anne Hathaway singing Queen's "Somebody To Love". They also sing "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing", "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart", and more. It actually ends up working well in the context of the film and the tunes are definitely classics.

Overall, Ella Enchanted is a light comedy that's fun for kids and adults, but young girls will probably enjoy it the most of all.

The Extras:
There are a fair number of extras included on this DVD. Besides the Feature Commentary with Director Tommy O'Haver, Anne Hathaway, and Hugh Dancy, here are some of the other highlights you'll find:

Music Video "It's Not Just Make-Believe" Performed by Kari Kimmel This is just another standard pop song featuring another one of Disney's generic pop singers. Kari sings this tune while clips from the movie flash by. There's not much remarkable here.

Deleted and Extended Scenes There are a lot of deleted scenes included, but they only total up to around 10 minutes of footage (and that's with existing footage included to put the scenes in context). In one scene the evil stepsisters order Ella to burn her clothes. In another scene Edgar and the snake have some brief dialogue (the snake animation isn't completed). Another scene features our heroes getting lost in the castle while trying to save the day. One of the most notable deleted scenes is the alternate ending. In it, Lucinda returns during the wedding party to offer a present to Ella (which she politely rejects). However, the evil stepsister demands a gift from Lucinda. She wants to marry a prince. Lucinda happily obliges her with a frog prince. When the sister flips out, Lucinda proceeds to turn her into a frog, too. It's a fun alternate scene and it helps to slightly redeem Vivica A. Fox's character.

"Prince Charmont's Fan Club" Set-Top Game In this game you help the Prince avoid his adoring fans. There's a memory game and a few other things. Kids will enjoy it a bit more than adults.

"Ella Enchanted Red Carpet Premiere Special" This show looks like it appeared on the Disney Channel at some point. A couple of the Disney pop stars host the show and introduce behind the scenes footage, interviews with the cast and crew, and more. They also interview the cast on the red carpet of the premiere. The show concludes by showing the after-party that takes place at a candy shop. It's about 30 minutes long.

"The Magical World of Ella Enchanted" This "making of" video also appears to be from a TV show, but Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy host it. Unfortunately, most of this show features the exact same footage that was seen in the previous special. It is also geared towards people that haven't seen the movie yet. It's nice to have for the sake of completeness, but you're not going to learn as much new stuff about the film.

The Bottom Line:
If you liked The Princess Bride, Shrek 2, or A Knight's Tale, then you're probably a prime candidate to enjoy Ella Enchanted. This film is a bit lighter than those other movies, but it is still entertaining, especially for young girls.

Order this DVD @ Amazon

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