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


A girl named Ella (Cinderella) has the purest heart living in a cruel world filled with evil stepsisters and an evil stepmother out to ruin Ella's life. Ella comes one with her pure heart when she meets the prince and dances her way to a better life with glass shoes, and a little help from her fairy godmother, of course.

User Reviews

Die-hard traditionalism is both the greatest strength and the greatest weakness of Kenneth Branagh's version of "Cinderella," that seminal tale of a young orphaned girl who suffers great abuse at the hands of her evil stepmother and stepsisters, but who is transformed by a fairy godmother into the belle of the ball and thus winds up living happily ever after married to a handsome prince (should I have included a spoiler alert with that last part?).

On the one hand, one appreciates the movie's sincerity and squareness, its resistance - in the face of what I imagine was a fair amount of pressure - to provide that cynical and snarky postmodern "spin" that almost inevitably attaches itself to any contemporary adaptation of a literary classic (see "Noah" and "The Great Gatsby," for just two of the more recent examples). The risk, however, is that our very familiarity with the story will dilute our interest as we sit around waiting for the well-worn plot points to play themselves out. Yet, despite our over-familiarity with the material, it's amazing just how caught up we become in the story and outcome, as strong a testament to the durability of the story as anything I can think of.

Certainly, this "Cinderella" is as good as any we're likely to get for the foreseeable future. The screenplay by Chris Weitz is loosely based on the Disney animated classic from 1950 - sans the musical numbers, that is. The transition from animation to live-action works well enough, though the CGI mice here are a mite lethargic and lacking in personality compared to their cell-drawn predecessors in the original film.

Lily James ("Downton Abbey" and the upcoming 'War and Peace") lights up the screen as Cinderella, charming without being overly cutesy, and feisty without being anachronistically modern. Richard Madden is suitably scrubbed and bland as her Prince Charming, while Cate Blanchett, Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger score as her cruel and boorish stepmother and stepsisters, respectively. Derek Jacobi is the king and Helena Bonham Carter plays the fairy godmother who also narrates the tale.

It's safe to say that this visually ravishing version of "Cinderella" will become a home video staple for generations to come. And, for the less romantically-inclined among us, the midnight-escape scene alone is worth the price of admission.


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