For the past decade Hollywood has been obsessed with recycling, at least when it comes to movies: whether adapting tv shows for the big screen, rebooting franchises, or doing re-remakes, everyone was looking for something they could re-imagine, all that is except Disney. So when Disney announced that they would be doing a live-action version of Cinderella, to many it bordered on heresy. But rest assured Waltâ€™s legacy remains intact.Ellaâ€™s (Lily James) idyllic childhood is shattered when her mother passes away and her father marries the recently widowed Lady Tremaine (Cate Blanchett), a scheming social climber as cold as she is well-dressed. Ella, always the optimist, strives to get along with her step-mother and atrocious step sisters, but when her father dies on a trip away sheâ€™s left to the mercy of the terrible trio. Banished to the attic and a virtual slave, her only friends are the mice she shares her meals with. She experiences a ray of hope when the palace announces that a royal ball will be held to find the prince bride, but her step-mother forbids her to attend. Despondent she settles in for another lonely night, when a beggar gives her a second chance.
Director Kenneth Branagh is not one for whimsy, characters bursting into song or a litany of witty pop-culture references, so banish any thoughts of Shrek or Enchanted (not that those werenâ€™t enjoyable films in their own right). What he does deliver is a faithful interpretation of the 1950â€™s animated classic, with the addition of a subplot involving political intrigue, that is brought to life (pun intended) by a talented cast: Lily James is perfectly suited to the role of Cinderella â€“ not so beautiful that she is distracting = blessed instead with an infectiousness charisma that buoys her character. Richard Madden is suitably charming as the prince (faring much better here than he did in Game of Thrones) and the wicked step-sisters are not only loathsome to listen to theyâ€™re hard to look at (thanks to their garish wardrobe), while Helena Bonham Carterâ€™s fairy godmother has just the right amount of quirky. It is Cate Blanchett however that steals the spotlight, both with her cool as ice demeanour and haute couture wardrobe.
The film boasts a stunning palette awash with near fluorescent colours, gorgeous pastoral scenes, and expansive sets, enhanced by flawless cinematography and the CGI sequences - especially the transformation of Cinderellaâ€™s entourage â€“ are consistently detailed and executed (although kiddies may find the lizard footmen a tad creepy).Branagh and screenwriter Chris Weitz could have tinkered with the story to update the film or give it new dimensions to the film, instead they chose to embrace to the source material. The result is an unabashed fairy tale that is enjoyable on every level. Cinderella is sure to win a new legion of fans and will delight audiences for years to come.