Direction: Kenneth Branagh
Actors: Lily James, Cate Blanchett
Charles Perrault’s 17th century fairy tale has been adapted more than a dozen times, most notably as a Walt Disney animated musical back in 1950. Now the reigning Shakespeare laureate Kenneth Branagh gives the familiar story of a commoner-turned-princess a live-action makeover.
Brimming with visual pizzazz, the outcome is a cut-above-the-common place fantasy. Following the death of her parents, young Ella (James) is forced into servitude by her cruel stepmother (Blanchett). Mockingly nicknamed Cinder-ella since she’s always covered in soot from her household chores, the maiden’s fortunes change when she meets a dashing stranger (Richard Madden).
The special effects, especially the transformation of a pumpkin into the golden carriage, are uniformly impressive. Cinderella, which is preceded by an overly cute eight-minute animated short titled Frozen Fever, is more than likely to enchant adults and youngsters alike.