FANTASY; 1hr 45min
STARRING: Lily James, Cate Blanchett, Richard Madden, Helena Bonham Carter
Pretty, nasty: James (right) and Blanchett
The Disney elves have given their 60-year-old Cinders a fairy dusting, scrapping animation for live action and rolling out red-carpet frocks, props, sets and effects. In director Kenneth Branagh’s plushly earnest presentation, the charmed existence of golden girl Ella (James) is grievously erased by her doting parents’ deaths, leaving her saddled with snooty stepmother Lady Tremaine (Blanchett) and her grating daughters (Sophie McShera and Holliday Grainger).
Reduced to maid status by La Tremaine, who grows meaner with every scene, and renamed Cinderella by a bitchy step-sis, Ella soldiers on with the iron-clad grace of a living saint. Until one day, while riding in the forest, she stumbles, ta-da, upon a life-saving prince (Madden). You know this drill, of course, Cinders having done her virtuous thing for centuries before Disney got hold of her. But now that they have — again — they do just fine, especially after Bonham Carter rocks up as the shape-shifting Fairy Godmother and Branagh’s pumpkin grows glittering legs. His direction is literal and the two leads are vanilla: Blanchett has the limelight unequivocally covered. But her sneering hauteur is still no match for the pearly lustre of dream-weaving spells.