DTV Heaven: Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time

“Do you remember the story of the girl who lived a life of cinders, and who found true love because she kept a beautiful dream alive in her heart?” Yeah, I do, I just reviewed the sequel last time. Oh, wait, that’s right, there’s another unnecessary sequel to that movie.

Cinderella III: A Twist in Time is one of the very last Disney Sequels to be produced, before the company decided to can the concept completely, making exceptions for the Tinkerbell movies, of course. So, perhaps it is a fantastic irony that one of the very last of these legendarily poor films happened to be not only good, but, in my honest opinion, better than the movie it was based on. Yeah, you read that right.

This second unnecessary sequel came out of nowhere for me, and was actually an inspiring element for these reviews in general. When someone thinks of Disney Sequels or Direct to Video movies, their first instinct is “total crap.” This movie proves that wrong, even if it is simply only slightly above average for expected theatrical releases. This movie is, in fact, a good movie, as many Direct-to-Video films are capable of being. I mean, Donnie Darko was intended to be Direct-to-Video.

Direct-to-Video releases are a mechanism for production companies to release work that otherwise would be complete wastes of money. Think about this: If a movie makes back 50% of its cost from a release, it would be considered a flop in the box office, but if that same movie is released direct-to-DVD and makes back 50%, it helps to reduce the burden of a studio to recoup that loss through samey action fare, or immature “romantic comedy,” or even the occasional blockbuster. Good movies are necessary to pay for under-appreciated or under-viewed movies, regardless of their quality. I just want to help people find some good films amidst the sea of mediocrity.

So, without further adu, Cinderella III. We open with what easily qualifies as the worst part of the movie. Hell, I wonder if most people who know about this film have even seen past the song “Perfectly Perfect Year.” The song is a nice touch, however, establishing that the “happily ever after” thing from the end of the fairy tales is proceeding smoothly. That is, until Anastasia gets her hands on Fairy Godmother’s wand. Yes, that is the driving force of the plot this time: Lady Tremain gets her hands on the magic wand, and decides to get revenge on Cinderella because her daughters didn’t get the happy ending in the original story. Oh, and remember what I said about Anastasia’s characterization in Cinderella II? Well, that is maintained here, as her great wish in life is to have a prince of her own. Ah, true love. Kinda sucks things didn’t work out with that baker from the last movie, eh?

“I call upon all the forces of the universe. Bibbity, Bobbity, Boo.” That… just can’t sound threatening. So, the wand lets her rewind time, leading to the only real plot hole in the movie: The redone scene from the original movie actually manages to screw up the timeline, but thankfully all the worst stuff in the film is behind us in about ten minutes. Scene is still funny, though. We get a great moment at the end where Cinderella foolishly shows Tremain the slipper she still has. And Tremain destroys it. Next song: “More Than a Dream“ starts off a bit weird, with her singing about how she dreamed of a fairy tale life, and even may have found something more when she met the prince, but it gets much better when she finally decides that she has nothing left to lose, and needs to take action to make her dreams come true. And with that, we get to one of the main themes of the movie. Cinderella actually has to do something to get the ending she wants. It’s called “Earning your happy ending,” and it is one of the better elements of any story with a happy ending. Hell, look at most of Don Bluth’s 80’s work and you get the idea.

This is where the movie starts getting awesome, but alongside Cinderella’s efforts, there exists the subplot of Anastasia, who is now engaged to marry the prince due to the liberal use of magic powers. The group meets the Prince, who, as it turns out, is not a blithering idiot, and remembers that he danced with Cinderella. However, a bit of magic wipes out that memory, and he soon meets up with Cinderella again. She sneaks into the castle easier than Solid Snake, and the mice observe the magic being used by Tremain. The spell is unstable, it seems, as he kind of remembers who Cinderella is after touching her hand. Something to note: The character animation in this movie is really exaggerated, to the point that you could damn near read the character’s lips and facial expressions without any sound. In any case, Cinderella resolves to get the wand back and break the spell, all while Anastasia is beginning to feel significant regret over the use of magic after a well-written meeting with the king. Interestingly, the former Queen looks a lot like Anastasia. Cinderella, however, is soon caught by Tremain, and after an exciting chase, she is almost banished from the kingdom. However, we then get to the worst song in the movie by far, “At the Ball,” where the mice explain to the Prince what has happened to him and why he feels like he’s losing his mind. He chases her down and rescues her from her banishment, with the spell finally being broken by the two holding each other’s hands. Oh, yeah, knowing true love instantly upon touching someone’s hand is a running plot point here. Though, to be fair, it doesn’t feel quite as dumb as it sounds, barely. Upon returning, the Prince sics the guards on Tremain and the stepsisters, who vanish. Soon enough, though, Cinderella gets to see Tremain and Anastasia again. However, Anastasia is not herself, but rather, Cinderella. The real Cinderella is teleported into a dark version of the Pumpkin carriage from the original movie, with Lucifer the cat transformed and driving. The mice, who saved Cinderella’s ass at the end of the first movie, manage to do nothing while Cinderella herself puts on her Action Girl hat and proceeds to be absolutely awesome. And that shredded dress she ends up in by the time its all over? Fantastic. That’s the sign of someone who put forth real effort in a bad spot. She makes it back to the castle just in time to see Anastasia refuse to marry the Prince, finally realizing that she doesn’t love him. Tremain tries one last time to get revenge, but it ends up failing. The ending is great as well, with the people choosing not to reset the timeline to it’s original state. “And they lived happily ever after… again.”

This is a very action oriented movie, much more so than the previous films in the series. We get more characterization for the various people in the movie, even bit characters in the original like the King, Drizella and the Prince, who said almost nothing in the original film. The music bounces from okay to awesome, and even to terrible, without feeling as detached as it did in the second movie. The only real problem I have with the series in general is that we never really see any chemistry within the main couple, though we get close in one scene in the second movie. Still, the idea of Cinderella actually getting out into the world and fighting to earn a happy ending was a great concept, and for once, they didn’t screw it up. Very few Disney sequels can really be considered good movies, and even though often have very glaring issues. Peter Pan 2 has the Neverland sequences, Lion King II has a racist Simba, but this movie has one bad song. That’s really it. I really wish I owned a physical copy of the movie, rather than having to rent it, but this film is sadly more difficult to find on DVD nowadays. If you have the chance, and you’re willing to watch kid’s fare, then give this movie a try. I’m confident you won’t be disappointed. Or, at least too disappointed.

Well, that story is over and done with, and I suppose it’s time to get on with something a bit different than usual. How about a horror film? Perhaps one with some terrible acting, and packaged with a whole bunch of other horror films. Next time, we scrape the bin at Best Buy, and bring up a terrifying harvest.

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