2015 / Kenneth Branagh.
Review by Glenn Cochrane.
I have no problems with Disney adapting their classic animated films into live action. In fact I've enjoyed what they've offered so far with MALEFICENT being particularly enchanting. Disney's live-action output over the last several years has been exceptional and they are venturing into a new era with these larger than life adaptations. Their latest is CINDERELLA, which beautifully captures the romance of the 1950 animated film as well as suggesting influence from earlier versions of the story. We all know the story and so detailing the synopsis is a waste of time. The film follows the narrative astutely and makes a few minor diversions and liberties to help the transition from cartoon to live action appear seamless. A lot of the toony elements to the 1950 film have been removed, such as the talking mice and the musical numbers. Those things were fundamental to the original film's success, however, would have been out of place and distracting in a live-action environment. The film was directed by Kenneth Branagh who has ditched his newfound action-thriller stylings and returned to the costume-period films that made him famous. When watching CINDERELLA it's clear that he is was perfectly assigned the job. He brings experience with elaborate costumes and classic storytelling. He also brings actor Derek Jacobi to the table as the aging king... and what is a Branagh film without Jacobi? The rest of the cast is also solid with Cate Blanchett relishing every moment of her deliciously malevolent performance as the evil stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter adds a nice touch of magic as the fairy godmother. There is also a great little scene with Rob Brydon as the royal artist. It's a bit part but he injects a much needed portion of comedy to break up the ongoing melodrama. The star of the film is actress Lily James (Downton Abbey). She is perfectly cast and brings a natural beauty to the character without being too "princessy" and superficial. Her own transition from a dishevelled housekeeper to a stunning young lady is breathtaking. Lily James reminds me of a young Nancy Travis. She's gorgeous. I have no doubt that some purists will take exception to some of the liberties taken in this new CINDERELLA adaptation but then again those purists were going to take issue regardless. I was swept up by the whole majesty of it and let every detail wash over me. It's lovely.