There are many reasons to enjoy "Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time." In many ways it improves upon its predecessors. Unlike the animators from the original film the amazing animators at DisneyToon Australia worked from their own imaginations instead of relying on live-action "reference" film. Furthermore the plot is far superior to the first. Still with me? Great. Here's what makes this plot better than the "classic" fairy tail: 50 years ago Disney's idea was to adapt the fairy tale into a full length film. The story was of a girl who, denied her birthright was forced to work as a maid for her step-family. She dreams of a life of luxury, and because of her kind heart she has friends that do all the work for her, she gets her chance with a prince and after dancing she's in love and gets married. Fairy tales are supposed to teach you something. The original Grimm Tale had a lot more plot to it and actually taught children never to give up. Disney's watered down version still taught that lesson- sort of. But the basic lesson was hold on to your dreams . . . . someone will eventually show up and magically make them come true.
That lesson is turned on its ear in "A Twist In Time." Instead of making everything easy for Cinderella, she is now working against magic and must overcome something a lot more powerful than a mean old lady- a mean old lady with a magic wand. She works hard to achieve her dreams. Oh sure, the mice help, but Cinderella is the clear heroine in this new film- a heroine that little girls can look up to.
Step-mother gets hold of the Fairy Godmother's wand and turns back time to the shoe fitting scene from the first film. One may recall that the step-sisters feet were too big, but also remember that in the Grimm tale the step-sisters cut off their heels and toes to make the slipper fit. Well, this is still a Disney film so magic is used and the slipper now fits Anastasia. Now's when the movie kicks into high. Cinderella is determined to find the prince she met the previous night and she sets off to do just that. Knowing what the girl he danced with looks like, the prince is forced by magic to think that Anastasia is the right girl for him. Although what follows seems a bit hokey when describing it (The magic of the wand is not as powerful as Cinderella and the prince's predestined love) it is handled maturely and time is given for the couple to get to know each other a bit more (in the first film they had said, what, four words) before getting married. Meanwhile Anastasia, who in the beginning wants nothing more than a prince of her own- even if it is Cinderella's prince, must overcome her jealousy of Cinderella lest she take what is not rightfully hers.
This film is not only a worthy sequel to the original film (unlike Part II), it surpasses it. Not just with a much more valuable lesson: Cinderella must not "live in dreams if (her) dreams are to come true" but vocal performances and the animation are consistently better. While the prince's design has been puffed out a little, I always felt the original design was far too stiff. Cinderella also has a pretty stiff design, but under senior animator Ian Harrowell's supervision she is allowed to be expressive and give a performance that can match with Jennifer Hale's vocals.
The songs are a bit more contemporary than the classic film, but that's to be expected. We're not in the 1950's anymore, kids. Personally, I can't get enough of "More Than a Dream," Cinderella's balled that sucked me into the story and told me that we'd be dealing with a much more pro-active Cinderella than ever before (somehow I cant' imagine the Cinderella from the first film singing "There's a better life that's waiting past the mountains I must climb. I will take a chance on love to get my once upon a time" . . . she was much more concerned with what a nightingale sounded like), and frankly that suits me just fine. I feel that this way to go is a lot better character for Cinderella to be. In a time when every other blonde that girls are looking up to are drug-addicts or bulimic it's refreshing to see a twist on a classic character that makes her someone to be admired.
As I've said the animation in this film, which seems to be getting the most flack from critics is astounding. What probably no one short of myself will ever realize is the historic significance to this film. It is the last film to be hand-animated by Disney Animators. Quietly Disney has for years been shutting down the traditional animation studios in Paris, Tokyo, Montreal, Orlando and in the case of the original in Burbank- converting it to a CGI studio. Australia's DisneyToon Studio was the last of it's kind. With this film (and thanks to that overrated story thief John Lassiter) the chapter is closed on Disney's traditional animation Perhaps most fitting this film (unlike the aforementioned studio's final films) bears a dedication to its animators. It reads "Special Thanks to DisneyToon Studios Australia for their many years of producing beautiful hand-drawn animation." I mourn the loss of an art form that Disney worked so hard to gain respect for, the brilliant animators who are now out of a job, and for the fact that their efforts will no doubt be overlooked as "mediocre" by critics and audiences that simply don't understand the effort that went into this film. There are many reasons to enjoy this film, but I fear that prejudice and ignorant people will find their voices of protest and cries of blasphemy for making a sequel to a "classic" the loudest.