‘Cinderella’ Review: This Classic Fairytale Gets a Magical Live-Action Polish

‘Believe me, they’re all looking at you.’

When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.

The fairytale to live-action process has been rolling for some time now, with movies like Snow White and the HuntsmanMaleficent, and many others. And while we do enjoy seeing each those classic fairytales come to life, most have just been okay or even disappointing. Well I’m happy to say that the doubt of whether or not these stories can be fitted for live-action got a glimmer of hope with Disney’s Cinderella, from director Kenneth Branagh.

Lily James & Cate Blanchett in 'Cinderella'

From the moment I saw the first trailer, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super, super into it but rather just interested to see what it had. I like seeing these stories come to live-action, and with one of the all time classic stories like Cinderella, how can I not at least be interested? As the weeks went by, I saw more and more on Branagh’s movie and my interest started to rise. It wasn’t until about a week before its opening where I was completely in and excited to see it. Whoever would’ve thought I’d be excited to see a live-action Cinderella? Luckily for me, it paid off.

The one question going in is how would that story translate to live-action on screen. How can it work? With the magic and the animals and all that. Kenneth Branagh vision was insanely good. He took the best parts from that original story, injected some of his own flair, and created something that flows beautifully. It has that Cinderella magic that so many of us have when watching the original animated version. Now there are definitely things that are different or changed to fit the live-action format, but with that flair I was talking about, it worked really well.

While some of the names will be unknown to many movie-goers, the choices couldn’t have been better. Lily James (Downton Abby) did such a great job as the sweet and innocent Ella, while giving us such a glimmering Cinderella at the same time, fitting the part much better than I was expecting. Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) as Kit/the Prince was just as good as I was expecting. Being a GoT fan, I know what this guy has as acting chops and he definitely showed them off. But definitely, the best character was Cate Blanchett’s Stepmother role. Even though I would’ve loved to see a much more evil stepmother, the evilness Blanchett brought to the character was perfect for the story. She was cruel, harsh, selfish – which ended up as a fabulous counter to James’ Cinderella.

Image of 'Cinderella'

I can’t finish up without mentioning the pure beauty of the movie. Not just from the way it was shot or popped on screen, but the set and costume designs were just fantastic. Everything was down to the detail; the farm/town, the carriage, the outfits (especially the ball room sequence). The creation Branagh and his team did brought me into the Cinderella world so much more, really bringing that Disney fairytale magic to life.

Cinderella isn’t just a great nod to the original of bringing that classic fairytale to life, but it stands on its own. Disney, Kenneth Branagh, and the whole cast and crew have a real winner here. It’s fantastic and lovable, letting you experience the magical world of Cinderella through her eyes. If you haven’t already, I recommend that you find some time to check out Cinderella. After how much I enjoyed this live-action fairytale, I’m very excited to see Disney do the rest of their classic stories.

Rating: 8/10

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