Once upon a time, the director and actor Kenneth Branagh decided to remake the classic fairytale Cinderella for modern audiences…

This stylish and sophisticated film is so much more than the basic tale of a downtrodden girl who meets a handsome prince and marries him. What Branagh and Chris Weitz have done with this live action version of the story is add extra depth and character development that was lacking in the original animated film (but that is not to say the original film was bad – it was more focused on the story rather than the characters).

In this film there is a lot more emphasis on the grief experienced by (sorry for any spoilers if you haven’t seen it!) Cinderella and the Prince himself and how they each cope with it in their own way. The way in which the characters are played also add to the ‘believability’ side of the film – very natural and nothing pantomime about them at all.

Lily James as Cinderella is very much more of typical modern day princess, proving once again that although she has her happy ending complete with prince, she also has a mind of her own and discovers her own spirit – which is a refreshing message that is beginning to come through more and more in Disney films.

Meanwhile Richard Madden as the Prince is perhaps the more stereotypical character in the film, but because of the lack of cringe-worthy lines, the audience truly believes in his instant reaction to Cinderella. There is a great chemistry between Madden and James throughout.

Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother plays it in a subtle manner, but the film gives us a hint of why she is the way she is but leaves us to make our own conclusions. Perhaps she even underplays the role, coming across as more of school bully who you can’t say no to rather than a wicked stepmother – but it was still an interesting interpretation.

The visual effects were of a standard that the audience has now come to expect from Disney and the costumes actually suited to the characters who were wearing them – without becoming clichéd.

At the heart of it, the story is still as old-fashioned as ever but the characters seem to be more contemporary in style and that is the modern twist that the film produces.

But what with a live action version of Beauty and the Beast coming out and Tim Burton to direct a live action version of Dumbo – does this reveal a lack of ideas from Disney to create new animated films? That I can’t be sure of but for now, their live action adaptations of fairytales seems to be a winning formula at the moment.

It is overall a lovely and charming adaptation with a solid cast and expertly directed by Branagh to keep audience’s faith and joy in happily ever afters lasting for a while longer!

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