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Cinderella III:
A Twist In Time

The secret to the direct-to-video sequel, at least for Disney, lies in the fact that their target audience always likes what it just saw the best. So when my daughter claimed Cinderella III to be better than the original Cinderella, my first urge was to lock her up in her room in the tower until such time as she realized that classic Disney animation and storytelling would never be topped.

But for a modern audience, there's a funny thing about the original. Though she's humble and grateful, two admirable qualities when showing the movie to your daughter, Cinderella also has a tendency to sit idly by and let her circumstances run her. That's a problem that Cinderella III: A Twist In Time fixes. In the meantime, it's also one of the best written and truly respectful sequels that Disney's television animation arm has produced.

Aside from being a mind-bender (because time travel stories can't help it), this movie doesn't undercut anything established storywise or thematically. Though it has sparked some internal McCaw family debate over whether or not it occurs before the lesser Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, it even throws some acknowledgment toward that DVD.

On the eve of their first anniversary, the Prince (C.D. Barnes - Disney's go-to Charming) and Cinderella (Jennifer Hale) return to the clearing in the woods where she first met her Fairy Godmother. Nodding to that gratitude thing, they include the dotty old woman in their celebrations. Unfortunately, Cinderella's stepsister Anastasia follows them and discovers their secret.

As in Cinderella II, Anastasia gets portrayed as not evil but misguided. She just wants true love like Cinderella has, not letting social ambition devour her soul as it has her mother, the bat-like Lady Tremayne. It's a more gradual and believable character arc here, and guest reviewer Allie really liked it, recognizing that it fit with what had happened in the other sequel.

What Allie thought was out of line was Lady Tremayne's final punishment toward Cinderella, but Dad being an English teacher noticed a strange parallel to Hamlet, so kudos for unexpected literacy in this movie.

The rarest thing that Cinderella III accomplishes is to have a singable song. Taking the most memorable element of Disney's version of Cinderella, the mice Gus and Jaq stop the show to explain the plot in "At the Ball," a number so catchy even the Prince has to comment on it. I vouch that kids will love it.

Every Disney DVD has come with some sort of set top game, and the Princess-oriented ones in particular we've played over and over. Allie described this one as the "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo game," in which you have to find the wand and use it to reveal facets of Cinderella's future.

For the first time, we tried the interactive DVD-ROM portion of it, and discovered all the tools we need for Allie's next birthday party. Not only can you plan out a party and print out a variety of Cinderella-themed items, the DVD also allows you to create a (limited) animated scene that has enough variations to it to keep younger computer users interested for a while.

So from a seven-year-old's perspective, this is the best DVD ever - until the next one. But the surprise is that Cinderella III: A Twist In Time stands up better to repeat viewings than you'd expect. New head of Disney animation John Lasseter has proclaimed "no unnecessary sequels!" and yet, while not exactly necessary, Cinderella III has some charm.

Cinderella III - A Twist in Time

Derek McCaw


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