Complete A-Z list



Stars: Cate Blanchett, Lily James, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter, Nonso Anozie, Stellan Skarsgard, Sophie McShera, Holliday Grainger, Derek Jacobi, Ben Chaplin, Hayley Atwell, Rob Brydon, Jana Perez, Alex MacQueen, Tom Edden, Gareth Mason, Paul Hunter, Eloise Webb.

Director: Kenneth Branagh

When in doubt as to what to do and without an obvious sequel on the horizon, Hollywood has a habit of green-lighting a remake, if for no other reason that studios usually already own the rights to the subject.

Not so here, though.

This attractive family film is a live action remake/reworking by Disney of their celebrated 1950 animated version of Perrault’s landmark 17th century fairytale.

Happily, unlike so many contemporary kidflicks, adults who accompany young filmgoers should enjoy the familiar story which, thanks to Chris Weitz’s screenplay, excellent casting and, above all, to Kenneth Branagh’s sensitive and to-the-point direction, is thoroughly enjoyable.

Branagh sets the apt tone right from the start, which sees two bluebirds flying away from the Disney castle logo and into the countryside where 10-year-old Cinderella (Eloise Webb) enjoys an idyllic time with parents Hayley Atwell and Ben Chaplin.

Then her mother dies, arming Ella with the useful advice “Have courage and be kind”. Chaplin then marries scheming Cate Blanchett who brings her two daughters with her. And when Chaplin dies unexpectedly, Blanchett and her brood become the traditional wicked stepmother and ugly sisters, Ella (now played by Lily James) becomes their unhappy servant until…enter the Prince followed by the ball and the glass slipper…

The keynote of the project is charm, warmth and attractive, to-the point portrayals and performances all round, decorated with attractive settings and locatins and some splendid movie magic which, operated by Helena Bonham Carter (“I'm your Hairy Dogfather... Oh! I mean your Fairy Godmother”)' she's deliciously daffy and stealing all her scenes as James’ Cupid who transforms a pumpkin, lizards, mice and a goose into Ella’s transport to the Prince's bride-seeking ball…

(And if you have bothered to read some of the no doubt well meant (and well paid?) but largely superfluous cultural media comments wondering if James’s wasp-slim waist is a product of special effects rather than of nature, you can safely ignore them. Such “intellectual” musings have nothing to do with filmmaking, only with (hopefully for the writers) well paid space filling).

Alan Frank

USA 2015. UK Distributor: Walt Disney. Colour.
113 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: U.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 25 Mar 2015