The story of Cinderella is one of mankind’s most enduring fairy tales. It is a tale of romance, dreams and accepting one for who they truly are. Over time, the story has been adapted many times, the most notable one being the animated feature film in 1950. Thanks to Walt Disney and his crack team of animators, Cinderella was brought to “life”. This movie was the start of something very special and now in 2015, Disney has taken it one step further and made Cinderella live-action. Renowned Shakespearan film director Kenneth Branagh has provided his reliable services in capturing the magic of the girl with the glass slipper and the results aren’t only good but downright magical.
If you’ve been living under a rock you’re entire life, then the premise of Cinderella might be a bit foreign to you. The story focuses on Ella (Lily James), a wholesome young girl with a heart full of innocence and cheer. When her mother falls ill and passes away, Ella’s father eventually remarries. He weds the cold-as-ice gold digger Lady Tremaine a.k.a. The Wicked Stepmother (Cate Blanchett). When Ella’s father passes, Lady Tremaine quickly takes over the household, forcing Ella to become a slave and wait on her and her two annoying daughters hand and foot. There is hope, however, when Ella randomly crosses paths with Prince Charming (Richard Madden) and the rest of film deals with Ella as she tries to find the prince and well, live happily ever after.
This version of Cinderella is as epic as they come. A big budget romantic adventure, Kenneth Branagh’s live-action romp is nothing short of exciting. Pretty much everything in this film is of the utmost quality. The costumes are equisite, as are the sets which really make you feel like you’re in a magical kingdom. The music is soaring and memorable. The screenplay is smart, sweet and at times, rather funny and all of the actors do a fine job reciting their dialogue. Having said that, the acting is top notch with Cate Blanchett’s deliciously evil Wicked Stepmother. She definitely steals the show with her over-the-top villainess. Supporting roles from Derek Jacobi as The King and Stellan Skarsgard as The Grand Duke add a touch of class to the proceedings. We also get a quirky performance from Helena Bonham Carter as The Fairy Godmother though her screen time is painfully short.
Lily James is a fresh young face that has a huge future ahead of her. At 25-year-old, she has proven that age doesn’t matter and that anchoring a film is something she is more than capable of pulling off. Cinderella is a timeless tale and this live-action production pays homage not only to Cinderella but to all classic fairy tales. Branagh has brought his careful eye to the material and built a world that is bright, vivid and quite simply, extraordinary. This film, while initially for younger audiences, will no doubt bring in viewers of all ages. Yes, there are cute mice and pumpkins that transform into carriages but the way the story unfolds here is suitable for audiences both young and old. Basically, if you want to go to the movies and leave with a smile on your face, then Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella is one film you might want to experience and here’s hoping we see more live-action Disney films of this caliber in the near future.